06 May Create A Writing Routine Part V: Not Letting Life Get in the Way
It’s extremely difficult to create a writing routine, especially these days. Not only do we have day jobs, families, bills, and responsibilities of all kinds, we also have more technology than ever before, tempting us with an infinite amount of information, and useless distractions, at our fingertips. To be a successful writer now means to push back against everything that comes first in our lives and to fight every day for the time and space to put words on a page. And even though it is a fight, it doesn’t have to feel like one. With some planning, a shift in how we view our day to day lives and routines, and some positive self-reinforcement, we can all be successful writers, whatever that means to each of us individually.
I’ve had a lot of lifestyle changes recently. I’m married now, I have animals to take care of, a house to look after, and more bills than I’ve had before, plus, I’m constantly on the pursuit of different ways to make money. I’m also living in a new town without the comforts and resources I’ve had previously. Luckily, I’m pretty good at finding places to work wherever I am in the world, but the struggle of staying in one location longer than normal, plus stress of the other changes in my life put writing to the back of my mind. While I’ve always been interested in productivity, especially in a freelance work setting, it’s never been more important for me to stay on track and continuously progress both in my short-term money making opportunities, and my long term writing goals.
After reading books by Carolyn See, Áine Greany, Anne Lamott, Ron Carlson, and Natalie Goldberg, I’ve compiled a list of tips and advice that has really changed the way that I work and view the work that I’m doing. I’ve focused on five topics and have created a post for each of them.
Table of Contents
- Preparing you inner self for writing and being more productive.
- Ways to getting (re)started in a writing life, maybe again.
- The importance of having a daily and weekly writing habit.
- What to do about talking to others about our work.
- How to not let life get in the way.
How to Not Let Life Get in the Way
Sometimes life gets in the way, not just of our writing, but of everything. We can’t often avoid huge things, but we need to avoid letting day-to-day snags derail our writing. We need to work really hard to protect our writing time.
Take on Less from the Outside
This can be so difficult because we all try to do everything, and we don’t want to give up responsibilities or push them onto other people. But if these tasks are taking away from your writing dream, you need to make a change. We really just need to reevaluate our priorities and cut things out where we can.
- Have a spouse or child do a chore you normally do.
- Give up a club or group we belong to.
- Automate repetitive tasks that add up each month like paying bills, grocery shopping- doing it online and having preferences saved for quick buying.
Cut out Multitasking
I’m a firm believe that there’s no such thing as multitasking, not really. One might be able to do two mindless tasks simultaneously, but you will never be able to do two things at once if even one of them is creative. You need completely engage in the task in order to be creative and focused on writing or editing.
You can’t be switching back and forth between writing and doing taxes, or editing and searching for a short story contest. For a while you can trick yourself into thinking you’re multitasking, but in the end, you will either not accomplish these things, or they’ll be so poorly done you have to redo it anyway. Pick one thing to do. Hopefully this is writing, and write until you’re finished with your word count goal, the scene, or the timed session.
Remind yourself of Long Term Goals
Another help to avoid getting off track by little things is a constant reminder of our long-term goals. Long-term goals can sustain us through some of the little difficulties we face. We can write 1 year goals, 2 year goals, 5 or ten year goals. They all need to be realistic, but lofty enough that we know we need to work hard. Make these goals visible. Write a sentence on a sticky note hung on your computer so you see it when you work. Have it in your notebook so you can go look back at it when you feel yourself sliding. Or have it written on the wall in your office. Do anything to keep it in the front of your mind.
I’ve had a difficult time when it comes to keeping on track. I’ve had so many goals over the years. And I’ve been influenced by outside voices telling me what I should do. I’ve had goals for things I thought more acceptable. I thought about getting a “real job.” I still do every day, but I’ve had to really stop and look at what I want from life. I want to write. That’s when I feel productive. I feel untrue to who I am.
So I’ve decided to stop dreaming other people’s dreams. I keep a reminder in my little office of why I write: that I’m writing for myself, and that I’m writing because I have things to say.