Fitting it all in

Ah, life.

So I’ve been in the middle of a relocation for … well, too long. And now myself and my husband are in the beginning stages of the end game: getting our house ready to put on the market. We’ll be making the move to Chicago in mid-May and should be living full-time in the big city by June. I said all of that to say this: writing around my chaotic schedule for the past several months has been a bit of a challenge and it’s about to get worse.

Some of the other group members have talked before about life getting in the way of writing. This is a reality of the writer’s life–if it’s not a move, it’s kids; if it’s not kids, it’s that concert from the band you love; if it’s not the concert it’s a family reunion that eats the entire weekend. It’s always something. It’s easy to let that stuff get in the way of writing, and before you know it, it’s been two weeks and you haven’t written a word. Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years, and I’m counting on them to keep me sane in the coming months.

1. Do something every day to make your dreams a reality. I’m leaning on this pretty heavily right now. Normally when I’m working on a novel I like to write 1K at day, which in reality averages out to be about 5K a week. I sometimes get more or less depending on life. Getting words on the page and generating new content is definitely the goal; however, if I’m super-busy and can’t squeeze in an hour or two of writing, I do things like read, submit stories to open markets, or listen to audiobooks. If I’m not actively putting words on the page, I try to find other ways I can further my career or learn about the craft.

2. Manage expectations. I know I’m not going to write 5K a week for the next several weeks. I *know* that isn’t going to happen. So instead of beating myself up about it, I accept what I can do. That’s not to say I can blow off writing entirely: “Well, the spring is shot, I just won’t writing until June.” For one thing, it’s counter-productive to tip number one. For another, the writer-brain is a muscle–you have to use it to keep it limber and toned. It’s also not an all-or-nothing proposition. So I can’t make 5K this week. I’ll try for 2.5K or 1K. Writing one page a day will give you a novel in a year, you know.

3. Juggle priorities. Writing is always a priority for me–it’s just a matter of making sure it doesn’t fall off the bottom of the list. Right now I’m not playing guitar or exercising as much as I’d like. Those activities will return once life settles down a bit; for now, I put fewer “optional” tasks on the list to be sure writing happens.

4. Take a deep breath. Relax. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t write tonight. But tomorrow? There has to be words on the page.

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