The ideal schedule for a part-time writer goes like this:
Wake up. Work work work. Food, adulting, oh yay it’s finally 8:00PM, time to write for a few hours YAY!!!
If this is actually your writing schedule, you are amazing, good job. You might not even be fully human, but I’m not judging.
Here’s the thing: Things rarely go the way we plan them to. Especially when it comes to writing. Especially when it’s 8PM and it’s been a long day and writing is the last thing on the to-do list and you know it’s going to take all you have left in you (and then some) to sit down and do it.
Even though writing is supposed to be fun and freeing and magical — and most of the time, in the grand scheme of things, it is — it’s not so easy to do when you’re feeling drained at the end of a day.
OK, sure, there are those of you out there who feel the most alive and motivated and end up being the most productive after the sun goes down. That’s just how you’re wired, and you probably get most if not all your personal writing done when everyone else is asleep.
But what if the only time you had to write was early in the morning, when you are the least motivated and productive? Would you struggle to write, even though you wanted — and needed — to? It’s likely, at least some of the time.
After you write for awhile, you start to figure out when you are most productive throughout the day. For me, without distractions and in good mental health, it’s between the hours of 6AM and 3PM. I can usually stretch it to about 5 or 6 at night if I have to. But usually, after that, I’m done. My body aches, my brain is mashed potatoes, nothing’s going to get done that requires deep thinking of any kind.
The unfortunate thing in my case is that I work from 7 or 8 in the morning until 4 or 5 in the evening. Which does not leave much room during my peak productivity hours to work on my own personal creative projects.
I’m still figuring out how to make it happen anyway. One of the hardest parts of writing that no one talks about is figuring out how to force yourself to write when your brain just can’t handle it.
But we all have to. You aren’t always free to write when you’re “on,” and that’s frustrating.
You have to do it anyway. Whatever it takes. Coffee, waking up (or staying up) later. Working long hours several days a week so you have time for everything. Babysitters. Paying someone to clean your house for you. I don’t know. Everyone’s time-sucking necessary adulting things are different.
Maybe for you it’s just a matter of getting everything done as quickly and effectively as possible so you have fewer excuses to put writing off another day … or two … or 200.
When the time comes to sit down and do the thing, no matter how much you don’t want to, you have to train yourself to do it by doing it. Over and over again. Until the excuses become faint whispers, until the rush of endorphins you get from writing is enough to convince your brain writing will be worth it right now.
So. It’s 8PM. Why aren’t you writing?
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.