I don’t know about you, but I often have difficulty finding the time to write. Between work, family, friends, and the obscene amount of time I spend composing this blog, I’m lucky if I write more than 5000 words a week. This is especially ironic because one of the main reasons I started the blog was to build a platform for my future novel (but has since developed into a passion all its own). It saps up most of my creative energy, leaving me with the constant mental state of “I’ll make up for it tomorrow…”
Writing a novel is difficult for many reasons, but the biggest one is nurturing that motivation to keep going. As most budding writers can relate, it takes a great deal of your free time with few gratifications – even once the story is complete. You have to really want to make it work. I don’t even remember what free time looks like anymore because, if I have a moment to myself, I’m either writing or stressing about writing (which is totally unproductive and not relaxing in the least). The trick is to figure out a schedule that will allow you to feel like you’re making strides within your novel while not placing unreasonable expectations on yourself.
Life gets in the way, and it does your creative energies no good to stress if you don’t have a chance to sit down at the computer every day. When this happens, I’ll take a moment to think about my next scene and maybe jot down some notes in the notebook I always carry with me. Even though I’m not writing, I’m still immersing myself in my story. Doing this allowed my subconscious to continue developing ideas that have led to several “ah-ha” moments throughout the project. I also find it much easier to pick up where I left off when I do this because the ideas have been percolating for days.
So now I have a rhythm down that works for me and my writing processes in all areas but one – when it comes to choosing between blogging and writing, the blog wins every time. They use the same sort of creative mental energy but one gives me instant gratification while the other seems a thankless task. I’ve recently tried to counter this by limiting the amount of posts I do per week to four, rather than the seven I was doing before. It it irritates me to do this because I have enough ideas and content to fill the blog 365 days a year so I’ve had to make some sacrifices. I’ve cut out a book club feature (which took the most effort for the least payoff), limited my other features (such as this one) to be written only after I’ve committed time to my novel for the day, and continued with two book reviews per week. I always see posts from other bloggers explaining why they have slowed down in their content and laugh a bit because I seldom noticed until they pointed it out. I figured the same would be true for my readers. As long as I am consistent with book reviews – the stars of the blog – I’d still be in good shape.
Since I made the change, I’ve noticed a remarkable increase in my amount of creative energy, and am much more able to recognize and take advantage of opportunities to write than I ever have before. Incidentally, my average books read per week has nearly doubled, effectively relieving any stress I felt at having things to review. Overall, it is allowed me to start off NaNoWriMo of with a bang and puts me in a great position to have the first draft of my novel completed by the end of the month… Wish me luck!
What about you? How do you find the balance between life and writing? What kinds of schedules work for you?