Furry Writers' Guild Forum

Making time to write

Hi there!

I’d like to pick your brains about something. For a long time now I have struggled with making and sticking to a daily writing schedule. I was a university student for the past four years with a heavy science curriculum… and a writing minor, which gave me an excuse for creative writing, but not as much as I would have liked. On Monday I am embarking for Montana to lead a field crew conducting wolf research in Yellowstone. I couldn’t be happier about this; it’s a dream come true! Nonetheless, I’m afraid I’ll get so busy I won’t make enough time to write to satisfy my craving to do so. One of my biggest fears has always been that I’ll get to the end of my life with too many stories left untold, just because I didn’t have the courage to jump in and devote myself to my writing. As a part-time freelancer, I know I have to be realistic about my goals for productivity, but at the same time, I also know that there are plenty of single-mom writers and CEO writers and other really busy people who still manage to get their books and stories written and out into the world. So I have no excuse not to write. I could never give up my career in wildlife biology to be a full-time writer; I love it way too much. But writing is a calling of mine also, and I never want to set my creative self aside, either.

So I am trying to figure out how to balance my time. I am such a perfectionist that I often make writing goals that are too big/unrealistic, and when I don’t realize those goals, I get down on myself. This pattern creates a vicious cycle that sometimes keeps me from writing at all, before I even begin. I expect too much in too short of a time, and I get discouraged and fall into self-doubt… and this makes it hard for writing to be fun again.

So, how do you make time to write? And how do you overcome self-doubt and the nagging, paralyzing negative Nancy thoughts in your head? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this stuff. Any insights are much appreciated!

I made time to write by quitting my job. (I don’t recommend that giggles)

Sometimes, on really busy days, there is no time to write. On those days, I carry my tape recorder or my notebook so if I get an idea I won’t lose it. I’m currently on a schedule for writing, and am treating it like my full time job. That’s been a lot of fun and has pushed me toward the idea that I would actually like to do this for a living.

That said, before the hours at my last job got stupid long, I would take some time, (usually before work because I felt tired after,) and throw a few words on the paper. That’s how I made time. Woke up, wrote a little bit usually right out of bed, then got the rest of the day started.

When I’m out and about, I always have a notepad with me. It’s how I wrote my book, its sequels and a few of my short stories. That way, anywhere I am, I’m ready to write.
When at my pc, I always have word open, ready for notes or actual writing. (I once wrote a short story while on hold)

If it’s really your passion, you’ll find the time, whether it be an hour here or 20 minutes there…Just remember to have a way handy.

Congrats on being crew leader! Good luck, and happy writing!

Don’t feel that you need to write daily. It works for some people but not everyone. You may find a few times weekly is more reasonable and you’re able to fit it into a schedule much easier.

First off, I’m not as good about this as I’d like to be. :slight_smile: I’m not the kind of writer yet who has multiple things going at once, which I think would actually make this somewhat easier: if I wasn’t “feeling” one project I could pick up another.

Despite my own failure to follow through on this, I think it is good to make time to write nearly every day. So far what’s been most successful for me is setting aside time in the morning; despite not being much of a morning person, I find I can usually get in an hour or so between the time I make coffee and the time I have to leave for work. My goal is a minimum of 500 words a day when I have an active project. If I don’t make that in the morning, I’ll see if I can try again in the evening. If I can’t, I don’t beat myself up about it.

The “don’t beat yourself up about it” is probably the key, I think. Some people are comfortable with much higher word count goals than mine, but for me I’m pretty sure that’d be counterproductive. Ryffnah has a much lower daily word count goal than I do, and she’s one of the most successful writers in the FWG. There are people I know who set time goals but not word count goals – they’ll do their best to set aside an hour (or two hours, or just a half hour, or whatever) at about the same time every day. And I can think of at least one professional author, Cory Doctorow, who pretty much uses the “grab a few minutes whenever I can” method of writing, because he says that’s really the only thing that works for him on a practical level: his schedule is too chaotic for him to do otherwise.

I’m not really sure what your new position (which sounds incredibly cool, by the way) is going to allow in terms of writing time, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you can carve out some time either in early morning or, I suspect more likely given outdoor work, evenings. The main thing it sounds like you need to watch out for is the “too big/unrealistic writing goal” you mentioned. Give yourself permission to start small.

I have a strategy that’s been working for me. I don’t know if it would work for anyone else, and I can’t even guarantee that it will keep working for me.

I write at least 40 words per day on my novel. I can write them any time during the day, but I don’t get to go to bed until they’re written. I can write more than 40 words (and usually do – I’ve been averaging 176), but I must write at least 40.

The advantages to this strategy are: it keeps the novel fresh and salient in my brain, since I’m working on it every day; 40 words is such a minimal goal that it’s (relatively) easy to succeed; and once I’m writing, chances are good that I’ll have momentum and go past the minimum goal. So, it’s kind of like I’m tricking myself into writing by telling myself, “Hey, it’s okay, you really only have to write three sentences!”

So, I guess my strategy generalizes to: pick a goal that’s small enough for you to succeed and often enough to keep the project fresh in your mind.

Thank you all so much for your insights!

That’s not such a bad thing! Sometimes I have the opposite problem - I start too many things and don’t follow through. I think it’s important to focus on something and stick to it until it’s done. :slight_smile:

Yes… I am often my own biggest enemy and worst critic. But I am working on those bad habits, and I think I’m getting better!

Very sound advice!

It turns out that my work hours will be pretty flexible, which is great! Just finished the first draft of a story today! :slight_smile: Everyone who suggested writing first thing in the morning - seems like that’s going to work for me too, at least while I’m here! Huzzah.

I always struggle with this. Once I start I can keep going but turning everything off and writing that first word, particularly after work is alway hard.

I wake up early for work and write for an hour, then I write on the train but its never quite enough to hit my word goals. Once I get home the battle begins to eek out that word count for the day. Two thousand words a day. If make 10K words for the week I give myself the weekend off. If I don’t make it then I give writing my Saturday morning.

I was never this hard on myself before I published Off Leash but I find the fact that people are eagerly waiting for the sequel very motivating.

My two cents.