Team Spotlight: Time Management

Emily Fahey Team, Writing Tips

This spotlight feature series poses different writing-related questions to our team. We hope you enjoy learning more about our staff through this series, as well as getting a variety of solutions to common or tricky problems that every writer faces. In this second edition, we asked the team the following question:

What is your toughest hurdle in making time to write, and how do you address it?

Rachel (Fiction) – Life can be crazy sometimes, and we’ve seen that especially this year. I often get a little frazzled when there are too many projects to work on, be it for work or for myself. While organization is the key to a productive writing day, my toughest hurdle is mental preparation, which is very important to my writing process. In order to clear my head of life’s busywork, I first organize each project into its neat little mental box, and then I dedicate time to each one. When I do that, I usually find that I have a lot more time for writing than I first thought. After reassuring myself that I do have the time to write—be it a chapter or just one page—all that’s left is to do it! For me, writing is more for pleasure than for productivity, and that’s something I constantly need to remind myself. As long as I organize my projects and find at least a little time to write, I consider the day a success.

Karly (Fiction/Creative Nonfiction/Poetry) – I have a toddler and a baby and stay home full-time, so for me the toughest hurdle is just juggling the demands of childcare and housework with creativity. A lot of times at the end of the day, after my kid is in bed, I’m just too tired to think about using my valuable “me time” working on something, even if it’s something for me. One thing I’ve done to combat this is giving my “me time” a reliable structure: I work out, journal, do devotionals, etc. I incorporated writing as part of that, and now it feels like just a part of my regular routine. It’s important to me that it not feel like a chore though. I give myself some grace for the nights I’m just not in the headspace for it; on those nights I tell myself that even writing a sentence or two is still meeting my goal of writing every day. It’s worked for me to stay consistent.

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Emily (Fiction/Poetry) – Whew, this is a big one for me! With two small children, a part-time nanny job, and several freelance writing and editing gigs, it can be really hard to make time for my own creative writing. I’ve talked before about how I prefer to “write when the muse strikes,” but these days I have to jot a note down when she strikes and then make intentional time to return to the idea. I’ve found that I’m most consistent when I have some kind of external goal (ahem, here’s looking at you, NaNoWriMo). During the last two Novembers, I set aside an intentional hour (usually 9–10 p.m., or whenever my girls finally fell asleep) to just write; I set aside all other mental tasks, set a timer, and wrote gleefully without heed to punctuation, spelling, or that inner critic that wants perfection on the first try. Having that hour was so freeing, both because the repetition seemed to reinforce or re-invite the muse, but also because I ended the hour with so much more satisfaction than if I had spent it scrolling Instagram, as I am wont to do outside of November. So I’m going to take a page from my own book here, start that practice back up, and make space for a dedicated hour to write badly but consistently all year round. 

Hannah (Creative Nonfiction/Poetry/Fiction) – After editing on a computer screen all day, it’s hard to sit at my laptop to write during my free time. My laptop feels like work. But recently I found a way to kickstart my writing routine. Another writer hosts a Google Meet session every week for several hours. Writers can come and go as they please to write “together.” You can pop in for any amount of time and work on whatever you’d like. You don’t even need to talk to others if you don’t want to—it’s simply a space for writers to work in the virtual company of others. Because someone else has scheduled it, I suddenly feel that I can push myself to take advantage of this writing time.

 

We hope our collective experiences as writers have helped you address how to make time as a writer—or at least comforted you with the knowledge that making time is a challenge for even the most seasoned of writers. Stay tuned for the next edition of this series, where we’ll tackle the following question:

What resources do you return to again and again to support your writing?