Finding The Balance

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Every writer I know has one. That thing that gets in the way and sucks up a huge portion of the day – a day job. Very few writers make enough money to survive solely from writing, so finding the balance between following the muse and paying the bills is a real challenge.

As much as I love what I do for a living, it does dig into my writing time. This is especially true after a long summer of being able to write all day long at a leisurely pace. If I wanted to spend five hours working on one poem or reading through one chapter of my edited manuscript, I could and I did.

The first week back to work is always a huge reality check in that my time becomes much more restricted and my attention span much more exhausted. I don’t have five hours to write, nor do I have the energy to head to my favorite coffee shop every evening. There is only so much time in a day and along with working I have to fit in everything from husband time to eating and sleeping. That doesn’t leave a lot time for writing, so I have to make the most of any moment that isn’t being sucked up by something else!

At the beginning of every school year, I have to sit down and create a new writing schedule to help me find the balance between the real world and my fantasy world of words. Otherwise, my stories and poems start collecting dust as my free time evaporates.

So, this the writing schedule I’ve come up with so far …

Monday:
– Write blog post for Wednesday
– Read

Tuesday:
– Attend writer’s group
– Write blog post for Sunday
– Read

Wednesday:
– Write blog post for Friday
– Write poem for Poetic Asides Wednesday Poetry Prompt
– Read

Thursday:
– Edit Sunday and Friday blog posts
– Read

Friday:
– Break from writing (unless the muse is chatty)
– Read

Saturday:
– Write Monday’s blog post
– Work on The Muse, (i.e. read through edited manuscript, make changes, work   on query package)
– Read

Sunday:
– Edit Monday’s blog post
– Work on The Muse, (i.e. read through edited manuscript, make changes, work on query package)
– Read

It may seem odd that I’ve included reading in a writing schedule, but I’m a firm believer that reading is an integral part of the writing process. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, I consider the work of others as a crucial part of learning how to craft a novel. Plus, I pledged to read 30 books in 2014 on goodreads. I really want to achieve that goal, so I have to keep turning those pages. Good thing I love to read!

Hopefully, with this schedule in place I’ll stay on top of my writing goals. The Muse is a huge priority and the last thing I want is for it to sit on the shelf. Staying connected with my readers is immensely important as well, which means I can’t slack off on blog posts, either. While it’s all a lot to handle, I relish the challenge.

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c.b.w. 2014

A Day in the Life of an Aspiring Writer

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It’s probably a good thing that I’m an insomniac or my dream of becoming a (real) writer might just kill me. Just for kicks, I decided to keep a log of what a typical day is like for me as I juggle a full-time teaching job and a rather chatty muse.

5:10 a.m.
Wake up (providing I went to sleep in the first place).

5:11 a.m.
Move the notebooks out of the way so I don’t trip on them when I get out of bed.

5:15 a.m.
Finish reading through what I call my Midnight Notes. Then, I’ll pat myself on the back for coming up with the ideas that are worth exploring and scratch my head for the ones where I wonder what the heck I was thinking.

5:20 – 5:45 a.m.
While I’m getting dressed and combing my hair, my muse and I discuss character and story developments.  We will probably disagree instantly and this will be the first of many arguments during the day.

6:05 a.m.
Start walking to work (Yes, I walk even though I have a car and a valid driver’s license. Really.) and listen to one of many story playlists. Usually, I pick a song that relates to a plot point or character quirk I’m trying to figure out.

6:30 a.m.
Pour my morning cup of coffee and get online to make sure any scheduled blog posts have gone through.  Add necessary links to Facebook page. Answer comments, e-mails, and jot down any ideas that arose during the walk to work.

6:45 – 7:30 a.m.
Start actual day job work.

8:23 – 8:30 a.m.
Check blog stats, answer comments.  Add story ideas to notebook.

9:23 – 9:30 a.m.
Check blog stats, answer comments.  Add story ideas to notebook.

*Note: These seven minute intervals are the passing periods between the classes I teach and they will appear a few more times.

9:35 – 10:23 a.m.
Prep hour filled with grading papers, copying, and preparing for the second phase of the day.  In between tasks I check stats, answer comments, check e-mail, and add story ideas to notebook.  On days where my to-do list is clear, I will read blog subscriptions or research publishing outlets.

11:30 – 12:00 p.m.
While eating lunch, I read through subscription blogs and comment.

12:00 – 12:07 p.m.
Check stats, answer comments.

1:00 – 1:07 p.m.
Talk to the student that always arrives to class super early.

2:00 p.m.
Assess real job to-do list and stay until it gets done so I can focus solely on writing when I get home.

3:00ish – 5:00ish p.m.
Repeat morning walk routine in reverse.  My muse and I will continue our morning argument as if the span of eight hours never happened.

Write down any ideas that arose from the walk home.

Grab an afternoon snack and power nap, complete daily crossword, and watch Judge Judy (it’s a guilty pleasure and there are always really great characters)

Spend time with my husband.

6:00 p.m.
Wrap up online tasks (check stats, answer comments, read subscription blogs, update Twitter and Facebook, if needed).

6:30 p.m.
Choose writing project based on the day’s inspiration (i.e. playlist, musings, idea notebook).

Write.

On days where my muse and I can’t communicate, I’ll use my allotted writing time to research literary magazines where I can submit my work, comb through agent listings, and research query letter/synopsis formats.

7:15ish p.m.
Briefly debate cleaning up my writing desk.  Within minutes I will realize it’s just a procrastination attack.

8:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Break for dinner.

10:30 p.m.
Rub temples to soothe wordsmithing cramps.

Take a shower and discuss course of story with muse.  More arguments will ensue.

11:00 p.m.
Jot down any shower ideas and call it a day.

11:10 – 11:30ish p.m.
Read

11:30ish p.m. and beyond
Try really hard to sleep.

This is my basic day, but there are slight variations on different days of the week.

Tuesdays are basically the same except from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. I attend a writer’s group and from 4:30 p.m. until around 7:00 p.m. I write with my mother.

Thursday is appointment TV night and craft night, but lately I’ve been writing at 9:00 p.m. for at least an hour.

Friday night I head to the bookstore at around 6:30 p.m. and read for an hour before heading out to visit with family. At around 10:00 p.m. to midnight I’ll sit down to read or write, depending on my mood.

Weekends are an entirely different story.  Saturday I clean the house and start the laundry before I head to the bookstore to write for a three to five hour block.  On Sundays, I spend the morning finishing up any leftover chores before heading to the bookstore to write for another three or four hours, or until I have to head home for Sunday dinner with the in-laws.  Sunday evenings are typically kept open to relax, unless my muse says otherwise.

It’s amazing I’m still sane, (sort of). Thank goodness for little pearls of wisdom like this:


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c.b. 2012