Question for Writers: How Do You Keep Your Novel Off the Backburner?

Question for Writers: How Do You Keep Your Novel Off the Backburner?

I have a confession to make. Are you sitting? Here goes…

I am not a full-time writer.

There. I said it. Is everyone okay?

Perhaps someday I will be a full-time writer, but in the meantime I’m a full-time communications director at a university. And I also teach an online course at another university, raise two attention-craving cats, make time for a relationship, serve on a non-profit board of directors and maintain some semblance of a social life whenever possible. The point is, I’m busy. In fact, I’m writing this post from a Nashville hotel room, where I’ve spent the week at a conference for my director position and welcoming students to the first week of the online course. Needless to say, the novel hasn’t gotten as much attention as it deserves.

Before you accuse me of being an ungrateful complainer, rest assured that I do love my other jobs and volunteer positions and am very grateful for them. But sitting at a computer all day and then again all evening can be tiresome, so it’s tricky to keep the energy flowing. And, pay attention because this is important:

Every evening that I don’t write is just one more day that my book goes unpublished.

I can make excuses. I can say that I need a little time away from my manuscript so that I can approach it again soon with some new perspective and fresh eyes. That’s actually a very valid notion and sort of where I am on this current project. But let’s return to that pivotal sentence above:

Every evening that I don’t write something is just one more day that my book goes unpublished.

When I’m writing the first draft of a manuscript, setting a daily word count goal is one way to ensure I stay on track. But I’m in the revision phase of Blades of Grass now, and it’s a different animal. I don’t think a daily word goal is as appropriate for revising as it is for writing an initial draft.

Anyway, back to the point at hand. Some days the words don’t come easily – or don’t come at all. Does that disappoint me? Sure. I have 24 hours in a day just like the rest of you, and there are plenty of ways to incorporate writing time into my schedule no matter how early, late or difficult it may be.

I’m curious to know how the rest of you maintain that delicate balance between demanding “day jobs,” family, friends, responsibilities, etc. So, in what seems to be becoming a theme on the blog, here’s my latest “Question for Writers”:

With our lives becoming more and more packed, what are some tips to keep your novel off the backburner?

I’m not alone, mind you. There are tons of posts out there about this very phenomenon. For instance, Michelle Krys and Torrey Shannon have great posts about this on their sites, including some great tips. 

So post your tips (or even just whine about this issue like I did) below. And since the night is still young, and I’ve gotten this off my chest, let’s see if I can finally get some serious revising done.

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