A handful of people had reached out to me in the past, inquiring how can I juggle with my work with writing, especially since I can always seem to release new content on my blog every week. And although I think this is a very farfetched exaggeration, these people seemed to view me as the epitome of productivity.
But I feel like that is not the case. Just like everyone else, I also get lazy from time to time, and would rather watch Netflix while laying on my bed instead of jotting words on my laptop. Let’s face it; we all have the inherent ability to procrastinate indefinitely. I am no exception.
In general, I think there are three things preventing writers from producing contents consistently:
We’ve all had busy weeks in our lives, right? There might be a time when you had this story or blog post idea that was just dying to be written. Your eyes beamed whenever you think of the idea, and would love to write everything down as soon as you can… only that “soon” never happened soon enough. This is what I describe as having the inspiration and energy, but not having enough time.
You might also have the time to write, and inspiration struck you like guided lightning. But you might just be returning from a long trip somewhere, and would rather have your time spent on your bed, dozing off. This is what I call having enough time and inspiration, but no energy.
And if you’ve been in this writing industry for long enough, of course, you would be familiar with the term “writer’s block”. You know, when you actually have the time and energy to write… but the blank screen on your computer looks so daunting, you ended up dreading the blinking cursor rather than writing.
I assure you, this has all happened to me before. In fact, it’s happening to me all the time! Nobody in this world is immune to the deprivation effect of one of those factors.
Take me, for example. I work a full-time job as an IT Consultant. And anyone who is familiar with the business will know that my job involves a lot of meetings with clients, requirements gathering, a bunch of chart makings, and monitoring. It is simply not a job I can afford to do halfheartedly.
I wake up every day at 6AM, prepare myself and go to the office at around 7AM. Commuting time usually vary, but I start working at 9AM to 6PM in the evening. Let’s say I go home right after dinner at 7PM, I would usually arrive at 9PM. This means after a quick shower and a short time to unwind, it would already be 10PM in the evening. If I ever hoped to look fresh and healthy in the morning, I’d require 8 hours of sleeping time… which means I have to immediately sleep at 10PM, before I wake up at 6AM the following day. Rinse and repeat.
As if that is not enough, I also have my share of side projects to do during the weekends. (Let’s just say these side projects involve a lot of people watching, photo hunting, and technical writings.) And believe me when I said, I never expected myself to stick with releasing a new blog post every week with all this craziness. And although my weekend schedule is never set in stone, I am almost always out and about from 9AM to 9PM.
Now let’s do the math. My day job practically takes my weekdays, and my side projects occupy my weekends. Essentially, it would seem like I could never find the time and energy to write. And truth be told, I’d have to agree with that opinion; finding the time and energy to write every week is almost impossible.
Which means there is still a chance for me to actually write something.
A full disclosure here, I’m not saying that what I’m doing will work for you. But after giving it some thought, and after some persistent insistence from various parties, I’ve decided to share what I do personally in order to maintain consistent weekly posts on my blog, on top of the other things I do in life.
Write during lunch breaks
You didn’t read wrong. I actually do write during lunch breaks. Well, not all the time, mind you. Of course, there are times when I have to accompany clients for a lunch meeting, in which case jotting something on my notebook while ignoring them would be considered very, very rude.
But during the other times, when I would have to pick between eating with rowdy friends and gossip about our colleagues and boss(es), 80% of the time I would choose to be in the office cubicle alone, enjoying the lunch box I bring from home and actually sneaking some writing time.
The amount of word count I would get from these short bursts of writing sessions vary. But even when I only managed to sneak 200 words during my lunch break, that is still 200 words more I’ve written towards my weekly blog post goal. Certainly more satisfying than having written zero words.
Actually, this post you’re reading right now may or may not have been completely written during lunch breaks.
Get as much sleep as you can
Now if you remember the three factors I’ve said above, I’ve also mentioned that having enough energy is just as important as having the time to write. There is no point in having free time if you’re too tired to actually be productive, right?
I’ve been struggling with my sleep hours for the longest time. I know I’ve written about how I have to sleep at 10PM in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but I think I can speak for everyone when I say sleep is for the weak. I admit it; most of the time, you’d find me still awake at 1AM, streaming the continuation of my favorite series.
When you have so much to do during the day, you tend to sacrifice the time you absolutely need to rest. Not only is this behavior destructive to your body, it would also impact your energy level during the day, which will not only affect your writing, but also your daily activities.
Personally, I almost always utilize my commuting time to sneak some sleep. I don’t mind taking a bus/train from a further station if it means I would secure a seat so I can sleep during the commute. And even if I couldn’t sleep all the way through the 2 hours journey (because people always seem to wake me up), sneaking some time to snooze in the morning before work, and in the afternoon after work, always does wonders to refresh my mind.
Use whatever utensil you find
I’ve implied this in the first tip I gave, but you don’t really need your laptop in order to write something. Most of the time, I write my drafts using an environment I don’t necessarily prefer. This could mean writing a chunk of my blog post as an email so I can send it to my personal laptop at home, or in my Evernote app so I can sync my notes.
There are times when I was forced to write on post-it notes as well. Basically, anything can be your weapon of choice, and as long as you can use them to get some writing done, there is no reason to dismiss them at the back of your mind. Sure, it would be cool to fire up your Scrivener project, or Ulysses, every time you want to get some writing done. But when you can’t afford such luxury, making do with what you have is very essential in order to be consistently productive.
There will always be days when you feel extremely productive. You will never be able to forecast when it would happen, but you’d recognize it when it comes. Words just flow easier, free time abundantly available, and even your energy level would be soaring high. It may not come often, but I assure you, as long as you keep on doing what you’re doing, there will come days when things are just naturally more productive.
The best way I’ve found to utilize such an occurrence, is by doing what I call “batch processing”.
You know, by grouping a lot of smaller, similar tasks together, and do it all at once. For example, I might get a sudden spark to write a blog post about my writer’s notebook. It would be a great timing for me to also maintain my writer’s notebook. Perhaps I could do some plotting, brainstorm for the next project, and quite possibly create an outline. On top of that, I could be doing some photo shoots for my writer’s notebook, which can be used for my upcoming blog post, as well as some future Instagram posts with captions I can also make during this “productive day”.
…you get the drill.
By maximizing what you do during this “productive day”, you will be able to finish a lot of tasks at once and free yourselves from future stress. I’ve even attempted writing several blog posts in a day once, to great success. I would then be able to schedule these posts as backups, lest I couldn’t write a fresh post for a certain week’s release.
In any case, as I have mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, writing is really hard. And no matter how creative you are, there is no escaping the fact that writing, especially writing consistently, is a grueling experience that is not for the faint of hearts.
My personal goal for the year of 2018, among others, is to release a new blog post every single week consistently throughout the year. This is by no means a small feat because I was never a productive blogger in the past. But by challenging myself to keep on the edge of my productive self, I hope I can keep on producing new contents; fiction or not.
If you ask me my overall goal from this challenge, perhaps I would answer with: “to train myself to write regularly”. But I know a lot of people might have different goals as to why they would feel the need to be productive consistently. In my case, it’s to post regularly to my blog, which I hope will one day evolve into an established author platform for people to find my books.
For you, things might differ.
But I believe the basic principles of what I do to push myself into creating contents regularly are applicable to any sort of content creation, as well. If you’re also a writer, then great! Shout out in the comments section below so we can become friends! But if you’re an illustrator, vlogger, gamer, etc.; it doesn’t matter.
I hope my personal tips above are helpful, and please let me know if you decide to incorporate some of them into your own lives! Would also love to hear suggestions from fellow creators who are juggling with their busy schedules and posting new contents on their preferred mediums as well!
I will be posting new content every Saturdays, be it writerly stuff, or just things that I like to write about. This includes my own stories, information about my books, and things that interest me. Keep yourself updated by following me on Twitter and Instagram.
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