Protecting your writing time
I want to talk about something that I have been noticing more and more lately.
That is people’s attitudes when I refer to writing as work and how to start protecting your writing time.
When drafting this blog, I hummed and hawed about calling my writing work. This is because whenever I refer to it as work, or as my second job, people either openly disagree with me or give me a ‘look,’ the type of look that says “I don’t believe what you’re saying, but I am humouring you.”
And to be frank, I’m rapidly losing patience with the whole situation.
When I mention I write books or that I run a legal advice blog (with full guides coming soon) the usual response is one of support. “Oh, well done you” and “That sounds great.” But what I have noticed is that when my writing, fiction or nonfiction, interferes with what people want or expect me to do then suddenly, they stop being great and become hobbies.
Work and writing balance
I have noticed a need to be increasingly aggressive when it comes down to protecting my writing time. A good example of this is when I was asked to take on an extra day per week in the office. I talked it over with friends and family weighing the pros and cons. Only no one else could see the cons.
“What are you moaning about? It’s extra work which is extra money, you should be over the moon,” was the common response.
I agreed that this was very much a pro for taking on the extra day a week. Money is always a strong motivator unless you’re already loaded, which sadly I am not. But when I raised my concerns about losing a day which I would usually spend working from home on writing, no one saw this as a genuine concern.
“ You’re going to give up a paid day of work for your little hobby?”
In the end, I took the extra day in the office, the lure of a little more financial security was too much to resist, and I’m confident I made the right decision.
But it also reduced my available time to write. I still hold firm my belief that writing is a business and needs to be treated as such, and with even less time to get things done, I had to implement tactics to help me reach my goals.
Break it down
Facing a large job, especially when you’ve just got in from a busy day at work, can be daunting. But every large job can be divided into a series of smaller jobs. Turning the big project into a series of smaller projects not only make it feel more manageable but also allows you to focus your energy in a more direct fashion.
You can forget about the rest of the project hanging over you and focus on the task at hand, knowing that it will all come together in the end as long as you follow the plan.
Motivation has become something of an issue now that I have less time to work in. Motivation and stress are my two biggest problems (apart from time). I feel stress because I have so much I want to get done in such a small amount of time and I lack motivation because the evenings after work have become my primary writing time and I’m bloody shattered.
Something I have implemented to help counteract the lack of motivation is a reward. Every week if I manage to tick off all the evening tasks that I had set up that week I get a reward. Usually, this comes in the form of a book (I always want more books) or a food treat (like a dog, I am easily motivated by food). I’ve found myself sitting there in the evening saying to myself “I know your tired, but if you want that new issue of Attack on Titan/that roast pork chow mien at the weekend then you need to finish this chapter
To counter stress, I found that leaving a day a week empty for relaxing fun things like video games is a great stress reliever. Also giving myself a bit of time on Saturday evenings to finish off any jobs I didn’t get done during the week helps also.
Keep a clear list of where you are and where you need to be
When you’re juggling so many different plates, or jobs, of novels, or pretty much anything, it can be very easy to lose control and watch everything crash and burn. Keeping an organised schedule is key to not losing track and letting yourself focus on one job at a time.
I use Outlooks task manager for my jobs, both at home and in the office, without this, I would forget half the jobs I have to do, miss deadlines and probably cry myself to sleep with stress every night.
This also really helps you keep track of where you are in a project at any given time and before you know where you are you’ll have finished that novel.
Always keep a backup
This is a good tip in general, back everything up. Then if your computer explodes when you’re not looking you’re not back at square one with the deadline much closer.
Even when time is restricted, you still need to treat your writing like a business and run a tight ship! Break down your goals into manageable chunks, reward yourself for meeting those goals and don’t beat yourself up for missing one or two. Organisation is key here but so is keeping your cool and remembering to chill out now and then.
These are my favourite tips on how to meet a deadline, but I’m interested in hearing any of your tips and tricks, so please let me know!
Katie Marie wrote a Book. A big one and a couple of little ones. Check them out!