A number of us are stuck in our jobs such that we don’t have time to pursue a passion. We write a host of genres in our minds but not on paper. Our times have been so encumbered (or so we think!) we have concluded it is impossible to ever be writers. And of course since the writing is yet to generate money, quitting day job will be out of question with bills to pay. Furthermore, some workers are called 9-5 workers but their work times exceed and a number of people like me carry work home.
I have battled and I am still battling to integrate writing with my day job. However, I have come to realize that if I don’t take action, I may never be a writer.
Recently, I have been applying a few strategies which have helped me and I thought to share with you.
Be motivated and determined
Since you have a job that pays the bill, you may observe your friends and family are focused on that. Although they may not be against your writing, they may not spend time and energy stimulating you to write. You have to be motivated from within and you may find that it is your level of enthusiasm and passion that may spur people around you to be supportive. So a lot lies upon you to move your writing forward. The desire to write should continually well up within you. I remember I registered with NanoWriMo annual novel writing project last year and I told a few people with the hope I will be encouraged and followed up by them. However, there was not much impact from them. Yes, there was so much work but I realized later that if I had managed my time, I could have written at least two thousand words. One of them asked me if I was writing, I gave an excuse and that was it. As long as writing is not my main source of income and primary focus, people around me may give it less attention. This is very likely to happen especially when you are just starting out as a writer. So you have to be self-motivated and determined to allocate time for writing.
Change your thought pattern
If I keep telling myself, I don’t have time; I will not have the time. If you keep putting yourself down, you will not write. I have a friend who has been writing on her blog I have encouraged to venture into paid writing and till date, she has not. She does not believe she is good enough. Some of us 9 to 5 workers may have the time for daily writing but because we do not believe we can, we don’t. Then there are people who are so busy and think they can’t make out time to write as much as they would love to. Do you have lunch breaks? Lunch break is usually an hour. Now tell me who eats for one hour? So how about scheduling writing into lunch break? I have come to realize that if I change my thought pattern, writing becomes a possibility. Even if I can’t write daily, I can write substantially on weekly basis. All things are possible and instead of thinking it is impossible, think how you can make it possible.
Prioritize your time
The urgent/important Matrix promoted by Steven Covey can be used to prioritize your time. Classify the demands on your time into four quadrants – urgent and important; urgent not important; important not urgent and not urgent and not important. Most times our times are filled with the other three quadrants except important not urgent. The demand of writing on your time fits into important not urgent. Because it is not urgent and can be classified as an opportunity, a passion or a long-term goal, we tend to postpone it. Urgent and important may not be avoided but how about urgent not important. Routine tasks and maintenance fall into this category. I can’t remember the number of times I would choose to wash plates and tidy up the house instead of writing. What about the time I spend checking and re-checking my mails? When you prioritize your time, you will achieve more of the important things.
Minimize time wasters
Most of us have time wasters that we have not recognized as such. I discovered I achieve more when I cut down watching of television to weekends. Yes, some may say it is a recipe for relaxing after a day’s job but then some watch for four hours or more. How about cutting down the number of hours spent watching television and write? Some chat with friends for hours daily. How about taking 30 minutes out of that to write? And the time spent on facebook? How about taking 15 minutes to write? If we really assess our time daily, we will notice some activities we can slice some of the time allotted to them and write.
Set deadlines and start small
My friend invited three of us to join her and write a book. We all accepted but for a period not much was done. I was engrossed with work and could not dedicate at least one hour in a week. Then I suggested she set a deadline. Deadlines are added pressures that generate positive actions which lead to accomplishments. Setting the deadline helped me to devise a strategy. I stopped looking for one hour or more. Now I am content with a paragraph a day, though I exceed a paragraph in some days.
For instance, I started writing this article but did not finish it the first day. I wrote for 30 minutes and went on to some other activity. However, I was glad I started it. So you can start small. If you can only afford 10 minutes on weekdays, do it and perhaps write more over weekends. If daily goals can’t work for you because of tight schedule, then set weekly goals. Whatever, it will take to get your writing going, do it. I have told myself that I will not wait until retirement to write. I want to have my writing fully established by the time I retire. For me to achieve this, I must start now! If I can’t level a mountain at one bulldozing action, then I do so by chipping. Chipping at it piece by piece gets the work done earlier than waiting for the appropriate time to get the whole job done at once. It is said a rock is hard but it is gradually eroded over time by water which is soft.
If you are strictly a 9-5 worker who does not take work home, then with discipline, it is possible to write daily. However, if you are a certified workaholic, then writing weekly may be more suitable. Whichever, you fit into, if you value writing, surely you can make out time for it. If you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl; if you can’t crawl… However, make a deliberate effort to launch and establish your writing.
Image by Jeronimocreate