I am writing these tips for myself as much as for you. If you’re a writer or an artist, then not practicing your art on a somewhat daily basis leaves you frustrated and incomplete. So far, I have kept up my writing well as I transition into my full-time job. It’s been very tough at times.
Here’s what I’ve done to help writing with a “real” job:
1. You have to set aside the times like your scheduling an appointment with your boss. I literally write the appointment on a pad of paper beside my bed at night. I set my alarm and when I wake up that appointment (8-10 write) is waiting on me.
2. Don’t be too hard on yourself about what you work on during these sessions. The important thing is you are writing. Part of me thinks, I am only allowed to work on the novel, but dang it, some days I don’t want to look at the novel. Allow yourself to start on a blank page, write a poem, a blog. Just keep the pen or fingers moving.
3. Explain to your spouse, partner, roommate, or whoever lives with you that ________ is uninterrupted time. Give them the warning ahead of time and they should respect it. You may have to make a trade with them for a loud Saturday night soiree, but that’s not so bad, is it?
4. E-mail old writer friends and professors with your recent work. Better yet, write them and set a deadline for yourself. “Dear Jack, I will be sending you at least 8 pages of a story by Sunday at 5 pm.” The more specific, the better. Of course, you must return the favor to Jack.
5. Pull out some of those old writing exercises. No one is above a writing exercise. Here’s one for you now: Describe a pair of old shoes (dress, sneakers, sandals?). The shoes belong to someone who has just passed away. Without using the words death or dying, create a mood in the description of the shoes that pushes us toward that understanding of loss.
See? Doesn’t that sound like fun? I know the exercise about the shoes is morbid, but that’s where all the good stories are–loss and love, usually the two combined.
If you get a good paragraph out of that exercise, send it my way.