Every writer has times-days, weeks, sometimes even months or at worst years-where they fall far short of their writing goals. Every writer gets caught up in something called life once in a while and time passes them by. And I’m sure every writer has at least once looked at a clock and gone ‘it’s that time already? I have to leave now and I didn’t get any writing done’.
Personally, I’ve spent most of the last month not writing. I’ve written quite a bit of poetry-almost half a book of poetry, actually-but very few blog posts and even fewer novel chapters. I looked at a calendar just the other day and went ‘where did July go?’
So what does a writer do in such times? Renew their commitment to writing, of course. How does one do that? Well you start by looking at your routine. What do you do every day-or at least five days a week-without fail? This includes things like work, school, even your daily walk. After everything that’s part of your routine, how much time do you have left in a day? Most people will probably have somewhere between three and seven hours of spare non-sleeping time. Some have less, some have more.
Now that you know how much time you have in a day that’s not dedicated to routine things, figure out how much of that time you want to devote to enjoyable activities that aren’t writing. Say you want to devote one hour to reading or one hour to video games. Or maybe you just want to make sure you have one hour of completely spare time every day during which you can just relax. Every person is different. I’ve got a lot of spare time because it’s summer, and I’d like to keep it that way. Some people plan out every minute of their summer six months in advance. I think those people are crazy, but who am I to call anybody crazy?
After you’ve decided what else you want to do in your spare time, take a look at how much time you have left. You might not want to devote all of that time to your writing-if you’ve got a lot of spare time, spending it all on writing will probably burn you out sooner rather than later-and that’s perfectly fine. But you want to make sure you’re writing time is enough to get something worthwhile done every day. Everybody works at a different pace, so for some of us fifteen minutes is enough to get something done and for others it takes an hour to write a couple of pages. That’s fine too.
You might also want to leave your weekends, or just one day of your weekends, completely open. This doesn’t mean that you won’t spend any time on your weekend writing, it just means that you don’t have to. Though I don’t have school or work, lots of my friends do, and parties are always on weekends; I won’t be scheduling writing time into my weekends because that’s my social time. Of course I’ll still spend some time writing on my weekends, but if I don’t get anything done, I have nothing to feel bad about.
When scheduling remember that it doesn’t have to be a rigid schedule. You can make a commitment to spend at least one of the hours between six o’clock and ten o’clock writing, if that’s your spare time and you’re bad at schedules. So long as you get the writing done, it doesn’t really matter what time of day you’re doing it at. Writing is one of those things that can be done at any time of day or night, week or weekend. Some people work better with a rigid schedule and others work better with a minimal commitment.
So what does renewing my commitment to writing mean to me? It means that I’ve decided to spend two hours writing every day, five days a week, for the month of August. In September I’ll cut back to one hour a day, five days a week.
What qualifies as writing during your writing time is a post of its own-and that post should be going up on Monday. In the meantime, I’d love to know what renewing the commitment to writing looks like for you.