Since Christmas, I haven’t managed to do much work on my novel. In fact, I’ve barely written anything.
I’ve spent the last couple of months giving myself a hard time about that, but I recently read an article that made me think again. The post was about getting back into a writing routine after a break, and it wasn’t the advice that resonated, as much as the way the piece was framed.
It was all about getting back into a writing routine when your version of normal has changed.
When your situation is different, you can’t expect to just slip back into your old routine. You have to build a new one.
If I’m honest, there are two reasons why I haven’t managed to do much writing so far this year:
- I started a new job in November and it has absorbed a huge amount of my time and attention, more so than other jobs have done in the past.
- Just before Christmas I received some feedback from a manuscript assessment and it was particularly critical. The longer I go without writing, the more afraid I become of starting again.
There, I said it.
It’s true that work is the biggest reason I haven’t been writing and that is understandable. My new role is very busy and fast paced, and I now manage a small team so I also have to keep up with their workloads as well as my own. As I work in the arts, there are also a lot of opportunities to attend events outside of regular office hours, so the work day has been slowly lengthening. I’ve had a lot to learn and a lot to juggle, so my brain capacity has been maxed out.
But I’ve allowed that to become an excuse. I haven’t pushed myself to open my manuscript and work on it and the longer it remains unopened, the more self-doubt creeps in.
So how can I fix this?
It’s obvious that I haven’t managed to establish a writing routine that works well around my new day job. At the moment, my evenings during the week are busy and I’m generally worn out, so they aren’t the best time to work. The weekend would be better, but somehow I never manage to do anything. I get caught up in various other things, telling myself I’ll write later. But later never comes. Then I have to wait a whole week to have some free time and the same thing happens.
I’m in dire need of a new routine. But how can I carve one out for myself?
I’ve come across numerous writers who swear by getting up an hour earlier to fit in their writing time. Early in the morning it’s easy to avoid distractions and they feel productive having completed their most important task first.
Unfortunately I am not a morning person.
I don’t usually underline words in blog posts, but that’s how strongly I feel about mornings. Urgh.
Instead I’ve considered trying to squeeze some writing time into my lunch break. In past jobs I was very good at taking time out, although my preferred lunch break is half an hour at my desk, with a sandwich, scrolling through my Bloglovin’ feed. Unfortunately I’ve let that slide and have just been working straight through.
A bit of time editing my manuscript could be a good solution. It forces me to take a break from work and gives me a few chunks of time to do something productive. Small steps might be the best way to overcome my fear of getting started again.
And if I can make some progress during the day, it might be easier to continue doing some work in the evenings too.
Hopefully, writing this post will give me the push I need to make it happen.
Have you ever struggled to find the time (or motivation) for something you want to do? How did you get past it?