Writers like to go off about how, especially when you’re a young writer, important it is to live life and have real-life experiences, but then they turn around and say that there’s no excuse to not being productive. You need to push yourself to get things done, you need to make it a priority, you need to work even when you don’t want to. So where do you draw the line?
This is just one of the many reasons that balance is so important in a writer’s life. Establishing a balance between all the components of your life will not only reduce your stress level, but tremendously improve your productivity. So how do you find balance?
Let’s get one thing straight: You do not need to write every day. Writers, even the professional/respected ones, are constantly saying how in order to make any progress, you need to be sitting down at your laptop/notebook/typewriter and put words down every day. I’d like to call bullshit. Hey, fulltime writers, remember when you had a day job? I’m sure it’s still in your nightmares. Remember when you were so busy with your job that it took up your whole day, or all you could think about is sleep? Did you honestly write every single day? I doubt it. And a dayjob, or an education, isn’t even half of what’s going on in some people’s lives. So how do you keep yourself productive, even without writing every single day?
I like to take Emma Lederman’s words, “Get one thing done every day.” This does not have to be an entire chapter of your freaking manuscript. This doesn’t even need to be a paragraph. It can be absolutely anything that forwards your progress. Because forwarding progress = = = PRODUCTIVE! Do you still think you need to write every day? I hope not.
Another important part of finding balance is to list your priorities. This doesn’t need to be an exhaustive list, and this doesn’t need to even be written down anywhere. But if you manage to keep your priorities in mind throughout the day, you’ll gravitate towards getting things done that are more important to you. For example, the first thing is probably your education or livelihood. Get that shit done first, get it out of the way. On a lunch break? If you can work while eating, move on to your second priority. This can be your writing, or you can get more specific and say this is your main manuscript. Move down the list, and allow yourself to put things on the back burner.
Wanna solidify your priorities? Make a to do list. Make five to do lists. I don’t care. You can have a general to do list that you’re constantly adding to and crossing off of, you can have a list of things you want to get done that day, you can have a to do list for the entire week. But seeing your goals on paper can forward your progress that much more, and the accomplished feeling of having all your bullets crossed off is moving.
Let’s take a step back from productive for a moment. Because progress is important- But you know what’s more important? Your mental health. Your mental health should be on the top of your priority list each and every day. Before work, before school, before writing. I’m not saying that if you’re feeling a little stressed out that you can skip out on going to work- That will get you fired. I’m not saying that if you don’t feel like writing, you shouldn’t write. But there’s a difference between sitting in a bad feeling and taking care of yourself. Be sure to do what you have to do for yourself every single day. Nobody cares more about you than you.
And lastly, yes, experience life (the bastards got something right). You want everything in your writing to be as authentic and true as possible. If you’re a young adult romance writer, and you’ve never experienced romance, how is that supposed to come across as authentic? Beta readers and research can only go so far. So get out there and live. You’ll have plenty of time to write later.
So that’s it, my tips on how to find balance in your writing life! It’s something a lot of people take for granted or don’t take at all, both mistakes. So do what you need to do to forward your progress, and get shit done.
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