Do you struggle to balance the day to day demands of life with your writing goals? You’re not alone, writer.
I’m a writer, but I’m not always writing. I guess you could say I’m a part-time writer, but I prefer to think of myself as more than a writer. I have a family, a business, and other hobbies. But I don’t let them dictate how successful I can be as a writer. I don’t let them make me feel like I’m less of a writer. Neither should you.
When I am writing, I give it my all. I am very focused and dedicated to writing and achieving my writing goals. I just don’t think I have to choose between writing and all the other things I need to do and love to do. I don’t see why I can’t be a mom, wife, photographer, chef, runner, and successful author.
My writing life certainly looks different than someone who is pursuing writing without all the other side-interests. But that’s okay. I do have to modify my goals and be realistic with what I can feasibly accomplish while living the rest of my life. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m passionate and ambitious about my writing goals, but I don’t feel pressure to achieve my goals quickly. For me, that’s not realistic.
I’m in no rush to get published. And I have no intentions of being a prolific writer. I typically only write for 15 minutes a day. Hardly prolific. And that’s just fine with me. If you have other obligations or interests, I encourage you to think of yourself as more than a writer, not less. There is nothing wrong with not wanting or being able to spend all of your spare time writing.
How to Be More than a Writer
First, let’s look at some obligations or hobbies that take time from our writing lives. I believe that you can be happy with your life even when it takes you away from your writing, if it’s something you truly want to be doing. I also want to stress the idea that what we do outside of our writing lives can have a huge positive impact on who we are as writers. So, although you may not spend all your time writing, you might actually be better off for it.
When I was in school, I barely wrote. Unless I was in a creative writing class, I pretty much put all personal projects on hold. I was so busy attending class, doing homework, writing papers, studying for exams, and working to afford my tuition, housing, and other college expenses. I wish I had spent a bit more time writing for myself, but it wasn’t something I thought I could do. When I wasn’t working or doing school work, I also spent a lot of time with friends. College is such a social scene, and I tried to be active in events, organizations, and parties.
I wanted the most of my college years. And I don’t regret the way I spent my time. I received an excellent education that has served me well since graduating. I made a lot of friends that I’m still in touch with. The experiences and memories I have of my college days, are something I will never forget. And that has shaped me as a writer. I learned so much about relationships and other important life lessons during college. And I can use what I learned as inspiration in my stories. Who I became during my college years has helped my create stronger stories.
If you are currently in school, don’t feel like you can’t write at all. Even if it’s just 5 minutes a day. Or 30 minutes on the weekends. Try to do something so you don’t completely put your dream on hold. But be intentional with your time. Take full advantage of the unique opportunities only found in college. Live life so that you have something to write about later.
I spend a lot of time writing and working for my blog and business. I’m lucky that my job requires a lot of writing and creativity, but writing novels is my true passion. So running a business, even one about writing, is still work. And it takes time away from the writing I love most. But I know it’s what I want to do. I enjoy helping other writers recognize their potential. I enjoy the challenge of learning new skills and feeling accomplished when I see my business be successful. I love that the time I dedicate to my job can help teach my children the value of hard work. Because I recognize the value of the time I put into my business, it’s easier to accept the time it takes away from my writing. I am fully aware of the choice I am making to spend my time this way.
It may not be realistic to turn your day-job in for Scrivener or pen and paper. Maybe you really enjoy your job. Even if you work just to have money to pay the bills, being able to enjoy the comforts of modern society make your time at work well-spent. Remind yourself why you work. Even if it’s not the most ideal job, focus on what benefit you do get out of it.
No matter where you work, or how you feel about your job, it can help you as a writer. All jobs come with the need to have certain skills that can make you a better writer. If you have projects at work with deadlines, you might have to prioritize your time and avoid procrastinating what needs to get done. These skills are invaluable as a writer. Especially when your writing time is limited! Work often requires schedules, goals, and plans. Scheduling your writing, and having proper goals and plans will be extremely beneficial to you as a writer.
My family is my first priority. Always. Right now, it is so much more important for me to spend time with my little ones. I’d much rather go to the park or the library than hire a babysitter so I can get my writing done. That may work for others, and there is no shame in that. But my personal preference is to be at home with my children. Ever since I was a little girl, that was my number one desire. It’s a conscious choice I make, and that helps me when it feels like my family is pulling me away from my writing.
I also try to do a lot of house work. Laundry, dishes, grocery shopping. My husband is a huge help, and sometimes I rely on him so that I can find time to write among the chaos of a young family. But he works hard all day providing for our family so that I am fortunate enough to stay home. So I work hard to have dinner on the table when he gets home. I work hard to have evenings free to spend with him. That means I don’t have as much time to write. But that’s a choice I’ve decided is worth the cost.
And spending time with my family gives me experiences I’m sure I will write about. The emotions I’ve felt, good and bad (but mostly good), aren’t something I could experience without being part of a family. The joy of giving birth and meeting my babies for the first time, the tenderness of watching my husband play with my children, the amazement of seeing my children learn and grow. The sorrow of watching a child hurt, the frustration of not being able to communicate with a toddler, the anxiety of wondering if my child is developing correctly. These emotions may be portrayed differently in my writing, but they are emotions I have learned to feel and describe as I’ve experienced them in my own way. And understanding emotion is such a powerful part of being a successful writer.
If you have a family, know that spending time with them is one of the best things you can ever do!
Other Creative Pursuits
Sometimes I choose not to write because I have other hobbies too. I like to do puzzles. I like to read. I love running races, sewing simple projects, and trying new recipes. I am interested in photography, and I love travel. Even if it’s exploring the city I live in. I love to go for walks and find new places I’ve never noticed or visited before. These creative pursuits are a good use of my time because they help me stay creative without facing burnout with my writing life.
They also give me experiences to write about. The more I learn about another hobby or the more I see of the world I live in, the more I have to write about. Having other creative pursuits also makes me a more interesting person, and that makes my writing more interesting. The more knowledge and understanding I have about a particular topic, the more I have to write about.
Use your other hobbies to make your writing more rich and interesting.
Writing Related Activities
I’m not always the best at multi-tasking, but when I’m doing house work that leaves my mind free to wander, I listen to podcasts about writing. Or I will listen to Audible which helps me keep up on my TBR list.
I also try to read a physical book on a regular basis. I love listening to audiobooks, but I will never lose the passion of holding a book in my hand and curling up on the couch to read.
I also try to take time to meditate, something I’ve started doing recently. And sometimes I take a moment to sit and think about my writing. This can lead me to write thoughts down, but sometimes I just reflect on how well I’m doing, where I want to improve, and what goals I want to set. It’s a great thing to do regularly!
There are also writing-related activities such as brainstorming, doing research, and revising. Sometimes I will go a few days, or weeks, without adding much to my word count. This can get me discouraged, but I know I’m still working on my writing and the time I’m spending is valuable to making my novel the best it can be.
So, if you are dedicating time to learning the craft, to brainstorming or revising, or to publishing and marketing, you are still writing. Just because your word count isn’t growing, doesn’t mean you are not writing.
If you get nothing else from this post, understand that balancing writing and life should never cause you to feel guilt or shame. There is no wrong way to write. You should never feel guilty for the time you spent writing, as long as you are consciously making that decision. Nobody can tell you how to use your time. That is up to you. If you are being intentional and are happy with how you fill your day, or you understand the purpose of the less desirable tasks, then you are living life and being a writer the best way for you. And that’s all that matters. Don’t compare yourself to other writers. Don’t think you have to do it like them. Carving your own path to success will help you actually make it happen. It’s unrealistic to think your journey should look like someone else’s.
If you are not happy with how you spend your time and know you could spend more time writing, you still shouldn’t feel guilt or shame. It won’t change the way you’ve spent your time. But it will make it harder for you to be in a good state of mind to make changes. So, if you know you can spend more time writing, give yourself some grace. Forget why you haven’t been writing, and be proud of yourself for recognizing the need to make changes. Focus on what you need to change and how you can use your time more wisely.
What makes you more than a writer?