You wake up in the morning to find out you overslept by 30 minutes. You have class/work in less than an hour. You throw on the first outfit of school/work appropriate clothing you see, grab an oatmeal bar, and dash out the door. Upon arriving at class/work, you sit down and get bombarded by work of all kinds, whether it be paperwork, worksheets, lectures, lab time, racing all around the building(s) to make sure things run smoothly, etc. By the time you’re done with work and heading home, you realize all you ate for lunch was a banana and a strong caramel macchiato, which you grabbed in the cafeteria during a run to another classroom/office. So, you stop, grab fast food, and get home. Day’s not done yet though, because you have chores to do: dishes, laundry, sweeping, organizing all the papers that are all over your desk. On top of that, you have brought work/homework back with you. You get to the breaking point, and are just about to go to sleep (probably around midnight), and a writing idea pops into your head. You didn’t write at all that day, so you feel obligated to at least jot the idea down somewhere and get some rest. Next thing you know, it’s Two in the morning, and you’ve outlined three-quarters of this new idea, that somehow turned into a potential 100k novel.
Ever have a day like that? Everything piling on, more and more until you feel your about to break? The best part? YOU GET TO DO IT ALL AGAIN THE NEXT DAY! Fun stuff, right? :p
If your days are like this, you need to try and find a balance. This is extremely difficult, especially for those of us who aren’t stay-at-home writers. Trying to balance work, family, responsibility, and your writing is a daunting task, but it can be done. Here’s a few bits of advice to get you started.
1) Wake up with your alarm. I know I have problems with that, and the snooze button and I have a cordial friendship between us, but you have to say, “I’m not hitting that button. I’m going to stand up, get dressed, and get to work.” It would also help if you set the alarm earlier than it is now for two reasons. First, it helps if you do succumb to the devilish snooze button, because you make sure you aren’t late, even if you sleep longer than the alarm. The second reason is if you do wake up at that earlier time, you can get ready sooner, and have a few spare minutes at your computer to start a chapter or continuing that outline that you didn’t get to finish.
2) Carry a notebook. Any one will do, no matter the size. Just stick it in your briefcase or backpack whenever you leave the house. That way, if you do suddenly find some free time during the day, you can take it out and write away. It’s useful in that it is lightweight, portable, and casual enough that people who look at you assume you’re still doing work. Just make sure you don’t do this WHILE you’re supposed to be working for school/job. We want to be balanced, not distracted.
3) ALWAYS find time to write. This is one of the hardest things to do, but one of the most rewarding. Whether you have a ten minute span of time free, or a full hour or two, you need to pull out that spiral notebook or laptop and write away. The word count and layout doesn’t matter. You could go to the conference room fifteen minutes early and write a couple hundred right before a meeting begins. You can grab lunch in a cafeteria and work on your layout during your lunch hour while eating a pizza or salad. You could make your emails more succinct and brief, and have an extra twenty minutes to burn, which you could then work on a character profile for your novel.
See? There are always way to balance what you love to do, and what you have to do. There are plenty of other sites out there that can give you advice as well. A Google Search of “Balance writing with life,” will bring up plenty of options by wiser, more experienced people than me.
Just remember this: Even if you are a night person, you still need sleep to function. Limit your time on weekdays to a bedtime of no later than midnight or 1AM. You’ll get some well-deserved rest, and probably be happier for it too. While writing until your heart’s content seems like a relaxer, doing an all-nighter the night before that big presentation you’ve been working on for two months is not the wisest of options.