Guest Post: How to Balance Writing Your Novel and the Rest of Your Life

By Josh T.

It seems like whenever you try to sit down and write your novel, life gets even crazier. In all likelihood, you have another job to support you and your family or you have school to deal with. Where is the time to write? It’s there, but you may have to make a few adjustments to find it. Here are a few ideas to help you find those hidden pockets of productive writing time.

Set Aside Time

Just as school and work are scheduled, you need to schedule your writing time. Figure out when you are most productive and set aside a little time during that period. Do you think best in the morning before you get started on your day? Try waking up 30 minutes earlier. Does your brain run crazy at the end of the day? Sit down at your computer after dinner and let the words flow. Even if you can’t get into your novel at that point, you should be writing something. Try writing a little backstory for a character or brainstorming future plot points.

Prioritize Writing

Once you have set aside that time, make sure you prioritize writing. It can be easy to sleep in a little later or sit down and watch an episode on Netflix during your writing time with the excuse that you will get to it tomorrow. If you do that, you are likely to do it again tomorrow. Treat your writing the same way you would a job because it might be your job someday. While there are a few important things, such as family events, that should take precedence over writing, don’t let the little things take priority.

Focus on the Essentials

Even when you prioritize your writing, there are other things that are important too. Don’t neglect work, school, or your family for your novel. You need to have a way to support yourself and you need to not alienate those around you. But if you are struggling to find time to write, don’t take on extra responsibilities. If possible, arrange things to be more flexible. If you are working on your degree and you find that school isn’t working for you, consider some less traditional options. Online degrees are just as legitimate, and many of them are cheaper and more flexible than a traditional university. This flexibility gives you more time to write since you can choose to work on your classes around your writing, instead of working on your novel around your classes.

Don’t Get Lost

Making sure you have your facts right is essential for a well-written novel, but don’t let your research lead you down the rabbit hole of the internet. It can be easy to start out looking for a fact and then get distracted by a news story, email, Facebook, or any number of things. To avoid getting lost while writing, don’t do your research at the moment. Mark the fact you want to know in your document, so you can find it again and write it on a list of things to look up. Once you have finished your writing for the day, look up the answers to the questions on your list and plug them into your story. This will help you stay focused and make sure that you don’t leave out any information.

Find Support

If you are struggling with your writing, it can be really easy to get discouraged. It’s important that you have a good support system to help you figure out how you can how you can adjust your time. Having supportive family members or friends who are willing to listen to your crazy ideas and help you work through conundrums makes a huge difference. If you read the dedication or afterword of any book, most of the time the author lists several people who were instrumental in helping them. It’s also important to having a support group of other writers. No one quite understand the struggle of an author like another author.

Balancing your writing with everything else you have going on in your life may not be easy, but you can do it. Find the time and don’t let anything interrupt that. You need to be dedicated or your novel will never get finished.

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