Of the many writing obstacles we’ve discussed this year, one of the harder roadblocks to bypass is learning how to balance work and play.
When you spend your life as a writer only writing for fun (nothing wrong with that!), and then all of a sudden you’re asked to write on deadline or write consistently about one topic in particular over an extended period of time, it can be a rough adjustment.
As much as we would all love to launch an actual career in writing, there’s always that small fear deep down that as soon as we start writing for work, we won’t enjoy it anymore.
If you want to ‘be a writer,’ it does require getting a little more serious about your day-to-day writing activities. But that doesn’t have to suck the fun out of the hobby. Here’s how to find that balance every aspiring writer hopes for.
Have a mission
As we’ve mentioned plenty of times before, wanting to be a writer isn’t quite enough. You need a ‘backup’ reason to give both yourself and future employers/editors/agents/publishers when you’re trying to move your career forward. Know exactly what you want to do and why you want to do it. The what makes your goals clear and achievable. The why serves as a constant self-reminder that no one is forcing you to do this: deep down, you want to. Your passion is your ultimate fuel.
Have a plan
One you know what you’re trying to accomplish, you need to figure out how you’re going to get there in smaller steps. If no one is giving you a deadline, create your own. Figure out what you want to accomplish and when you want to get it done. Know exactly what you’re getting into before you dive in, so that no matter how much work you end up doing, you can still allow yourself moments to sit back and enjoy it.
If you’ve assigned yourself a goal to write every day, write every day. The second you free yourself of that responsibility, you’re in big trouble. Likewise, if you tell someone you’re going to finish something by a certain date – do it. Find an accountability partner if you have to. Treat your goals seriously. And in the same way, be consistent with the amount of time you spend resting and working on just-for-fun projects. The key to balance is to form habits and keep both writing and relaxing at the forefront of your task list.
Forming our own paths in the professional writing world (whether you’re trying to publish fiction or nonfiction) requires a lot of skills and steps. There’s a time for seriousness and a time to let your creative thinking take the reigns. If you plan carefully and allow equal amounts of time for productivity and unplugging, you will be able to accomplish so much more – and enjoy doing it, too.
Check out more tips for how to take a productive break from writing.
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.
Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.