How to Define Your Own Limits as a Writer


Writing itself is a tough gig. What makes it even more challenging is that, especially in the beginning, you have to find time to write on top of everything else you need to do (work, go to school, socializing).

When you’re not a full-time writer (yet), but you still want to develop and refine your writing skills, it’s a lot to handle. You’ve probably had points in which you were doing everything, and writing, and didn’t realize how fast you were wearing yourself down until you crashed.

Or maybe you’ve never felt that way. Maybe, from your point of view, you can never quite seem to push yourself hard enough.

Whether you’re an over-committer or you’ve never tested how far you can stretch yourself, we’re here today to help you, as a writer, define your limits, so you can figure out how to make the most of your writing time without burning out.


Defining your own limits is really as simple as “you never know until you give it a go.” When you’re stuck in your normal routine, stepping out of it to get a good look at where you are is a necessary first step. You have to be able to define what you think you need to change before you can go about changing it.

Write down what you normally do on a daily basis. How much of that routine is dedicated to writing? If you’re doing a lot, and also writing a lot, look closely at the non-writing-related points. How many of those are necessary? Are you writing when you should be doing something else (like studying), or doing something else when you could be writing (like watching YouTube videos)?

If you have to, decrease your writing time (just a little) to make room for other things. It’s going to do more for you in the long run, trust us. And if you have to give up re-watching Brotherhood 2.0 so you can spend more time writing, take a deep breath. 2007 in video form will still be there when you get back.

Do just a little more than you think you can handle

Regardless of the activity, we often unintentionally do too much without realizing it or don’t realize we could be doing more. When it comes to writing, the hardest part is sitting down and getting started. Sometimes, once we get going, the hard part is training ourselves to stop when we’ve met a daily goal.

If you’re struggling to find writing time today, make it a goal to write just a little bit more than you think you have time for. Don’t go any further—to avoid reaching too far past the upper limit you’re trying to set for yourself—but don’t fall underneath the bar, either. Push just a little harder. Just write 100 more words, and then 100 more, until you feel you’ve earned some leisure time.

Pay attention 

Our bodies give us signals; learning to pay attention to them is how we can train ourselves to know when we’re doing too much and when we can do more. You might start to feel fatigued if you’re on the former end of the spectrum, but if you’re just feeling tired for no reason, you might not be stimulating your brain quite enough.

Listen to those signals. Base the limits you set for yourself on what makes you feel the most capable and comfortable, physically and mentally.

You can do this. You can write and still have time for other shenanigans. You can be productive and successful and still have time to watch Hank’s party blower solo on repeat.

How’s that for a Monday [afternoon] motivation?

Or did we just send you into a dangerous vortex of non-productivity?

Either way, you’re welcome.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.