Friday, 5 May 2017

How To Juggle Writing & Life

Two years ago I wrote about how I sent out a wish to the Cosmos and it delivered big time. I got to spend my mornings writing up a storm then tutoring and helping people who want to learn to read and write in the afternoons and evenings.

All those morning writing sessions meant I got a lot of books written.  Things have changed a bit since then though.  Last year I was asked to work with Lewisham Young Women’s Resource Project (a charity which helps young women stay in education or get back into it if they have become disenchanted with it for some reason).  So I agreed to step in and teach English for them. This however cut my 5 mornings of writing down to just 2. Initially I worried this would mean I wouldn’t get enough writing done.  I was concerned even more that I seemed to be spending huge amounts of time updating my social media. So I decided to rejig my work schedule a bit.

It helps that I’m a fairly early riser and can get straight into writing almost immediately after a cup of coffee or tea.  But this is how I set up my writing week:

Monday – Friday Mornings

1 Check all my emails and respond to them as quickly as possible then save them in appropriate folders and mark those less urgent for attention to be done at the next possible opportunity.

Putting emails in folders is invaluable for finding things at a later date when any queries come up or I need to check my appalling memory to see if I’ve done something I’ve said I have. It also clears my inbox so I don’t feel overwhelmed by how many emails need sorting out.

2 Check my social media accounts and respond to messages, likes, shares etc. I also use Hootsuite to pre-schedule posts so I know I’m making some contribution to social media even when I’m teaching or lost in my writing.

3 Have breakfast

4 If it’s a teaching morning, I leave for the charity.

If it’s a writing day, I get working on whichever novel, blog post or review I’m writing at that point. I turn off my social media alerts so I don’t get distracted by them. I don’t have to do this too often as I’m usually so engrossed in writing I often don’t notice them and sometimes even forget to stop to eat.

If I remember to have a food break then I get back to writing as soon after that as possible. All in all I probably write for about 6 hours on my designated writing days. It’s amazing how many words you can get down with such a limited amount of time.

Sometimes I write a bit before I head out to teach but this is dangerous as I often get lost in the writing and then have to run around like crazy to get ready to leave on time so I’m not late for the teaching session at the charity.

The Weekend

I work on my social media accounts on Saturdays and set up scheduled posts for the coming week. Then I try and get out of the house to meet up with friends or family or do something cultural if at all possible.

I don’t work on Sundays but instead take time out to do Pilates and spend more time with friends or family. I find myself drawn out more often in Spring and Summer than in the Winter but love inviting people over for meals and games of Scrabble or a DVD screening in the colder months.

I am however by no means perfect at sticking to this routine. I’m as prone to procrastination as the next person and often find Spring and Summer very difficult times for staying on track. I think this is because in Winter I’m cocooned at my desk with my writing lamp focused on the laptop and the door shut to keep draughts out.

As soon as Spring sets in the sun comes up earlier and there’s light blazing throughout the house. This is where my attention wanders. I also get distracted by sporting events on telly such as gymnastics, snooker and Wimbledon. But a little procrastination hurts no-one so I let it happen from time to time.

One rule remains constant though - my designated writing days are sacrosanct. I let everyone know which days they are and fit commitments around them. Births, deaths and taxes are the only things which disrupt this routine.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Sorry Bev, accidentally deleted your comment when I was trying to do some admin on the blog. I'm a clutz. Is that how you spell it? Would really appreciate if you wrote it again. Sorry - groaning emoticon