Create a Writing Life That (Actually) Works for You

Hullo, world! 

It’s actually snowing in Vancouver today, which is super exciting. Snowcouver trumps Raincouver! (I know, spoken like someone from Edmonton where it’s -30°C and sunny.)

I’m thinking I’ll take a short walk in the snow with my sister for an early Valentine girl’s date…It’s a White Valentine! (I know, now I’m ceasing to make much sense.)

Me going outside today.

Today, we’ll be tackling the topic of Writing Life

Writing Life is a fickle thing. Last week I talked about writing what you love, but sometimes we don’t even get there–we seem to be unable to find time to write. Or, you might be squeezing in that writing, but it leaves you exhausted and dissatisfied with your writing and you think, “This isn’t the writing life I was dreaming of!”

Courage, dear heart. Where there is a will, there always is a way.

1. Brainstorm

First off, take a moment right now and think of your ideal writing life. What does it look like? When are you writing? Last year, I stalked my four legendary authors and went to see what kind of writing life they had. From this experience, I’ve been brainstorming what my ideal writing life would look like. I shared my ideal Bookham routine in January, but February has been knocking me out, so I’m not able to follow that routine too much. 

A good writing life or day for me would be devoid of siblings (sorry my dears, you are too obstreperous), filled with cups of tea and hot chocolate and coffee magically refilling themselves (or not), and me banging up 5K or more. And no, this isn’t just a fantasy. I had a very good writing day about a year ago where I banged out 10k in a single Saturday. 

But enough about my ideal writing life. Try to come up with yours and make it as specific as possible. It might be a good idea to make a Pinterest board on it, too. (I know, I can’t promote Pinterest enough.)

2. Assess 

This is where a reality check comes in. Where are you at your life sans writing? Are you a high schooler, a college student, or a stay-at-home mom? What does your work schedule look like? 

If you are a high school senior, I will advise you to focus on your future. And if you’re offended, I’m sorry, but I was a senior myself. You can read about my disastrous writing life back then. It’s not a priority. Your life is. Writing should be put on the back burner until you’re finished with applications and scholarships and whatnots. 

If you aren’t on the dividing road of life, however, really think back on your schedule. When do you wake up and go to sleep? What are some of the non-negotiable blocks of your time? Ruthlessly go through everything in a given day, and yes, that includes the time you spend scrolling on Instagram. It’s a good idea to do this on paper and list all your non-negotiable schedule versus negotiable things. 

Example:

Non-NegotiableNegotiable
-Full-Time Work (8hrs)
-Part-Time Work (2-4hrs)
-Study (6hrs or more)
-Sleep (6-7hrs)
-Eating (3hrs)
-Personal Hygiene–Shower, bath, etc. (1.5hrs)
-Transit (1-2hrs)
-Sleeping in
-Reading
-Social Media and other phone usages (ave. per day=3.5hrs or  more)
-Watching TV shows (ave. per week= 8hrs)
-Other Hobbies

3. Excavate

Once you have a detailed idea of where all your time is going, ruthlessly go through the negotiable list. Is it truly necessary to binge-watch Netflix over the weekends? Do you really need to read that book? *gasp* Is it possible to wake up an hour earlier than usual? What can you be doing other than scrolling through Instagram feeds? 

At this point, go back to point 1 where you did a brainstorm of your ideal writing life. Now, compare it with the time you have. How much time can you actually allot? As much as possible, try to create one day in a month where you can achieve that ideal writing life. Once you can do that regularly, try every other week. Then once a week. 

For me, Saturdays are my sacred days where I leisurely write my blog, work on my WiPs, and ignore work and study as much as possible. I know, it sounds a little stressful, esp. if you’re a studyholic like me, but it works. 

During weekdays, I try to set my bars really low. If I can write an hour a day, I consider it a great achievement. But as long as I make the time to write consistently, I think it a great writing life. 

Think of your ideal writing life. Assess the time you have in your 24 hours a day. Then at the actual time you can excavate to write. Chances are, if you are serious about writing, you can cut back on the negotiable and write. It doesn’t have to look the same every day, but it is preferable to stick to it until you’re wired to take the time to write. 

When everything is stripped away of life, will you be writing? How much writing means to you will be the measure of how much you will treasure it. And if writing life right now looks like taking ten minutes every morning to jot down small details or typing on your phone in transit, that’s okay, too. What matters is you realise what your priorities are, and if writing is one of them, to guard it. 

And that’s what we do–write. 

Thank you for reading this post! What does your ideal writing life look like? What are some areas you can cut back on to write instead? How can you make time to write in your stage of life? Let me know what you thought in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

6 thoughts on “Create a Writing Life That (Actually) Works for You

  1. Thank you for this post, SJ! All these points are really insightful, but I especially appreciated you saying that seniors should not necessarily be writing…I’m a senior right now, and boy, I have been feeling GUILTY for not writing! (Although I think there is some time I could use…because I don’t spend all my time working on school…but I still need to figure that out. XD)

    Also, it’s snowing here, too! I spent quite a bit of time playing with my siblings. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you found this post useful! And yes, I personally had a really stressful senior year (especially because I was a study-crazy Asian senior), so I really struggled with finding the balance in life. I hope your senior year goes well and you find your stride!

      Like

  2. “But as long as I make the time to write consistently, I think it a great writing life.”

    That’s the main goal always, isn’t it? I, too, judge myself by my consistency rather than my output. Most times I’m proud enough of myself for sitting down on that chair and typing at the keyboard, regardless of the quality of words I put out. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading!

      A writer is a writer. It’s not how much you write or how well you write, but if you do write. Nice meeting you, by the way. 🙂

      Like

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