College is, by comparison, also tough. Sometimes tougher then writing, depending on your opinion. The pressing hours, study binges, and social networking can be as dizzying as they are enjoyable. School has a tendency to become one's job, and that doesn't account for your time if you have an actual job to attend as well.
So, that all being said, it sounds outright impossible to do both, right?
And yet I have still gone for it.
A summer before I started my first semester, I decided to sit down and finish penning for first novel, Chimehour. Because it was time; because I would write, no matter what got in my path. Two years and two books later, I'm still going strong; always busy, and usually happy, but going strong.
Here's a few tips on how I did it, and how you can too!
- Set a schedule (and keep it):
This should be rule #1 in writing anyway, but this applies heavily if you're in school. Honor your class schedule and homework time, working a space for writing between them, even if it's just on your breaks between class. One recent semester, my free time comprised of an hour break between History and Math; I managed 500-800 words per session (and that added up during my weekends and weeks off). You will be surprised at what you can pump out in the span of a few hours a day. Do try not to have writing timed in a way that interferes with sleep or social time (though, let's be fair; writing interferes with these sort of things anyway. Sometimes you can't avoid it) and keep to a schedule once you've set it. Your brain becomes accustomed to a time table so wonderfully well; use that to your advantage!
- Harmonize studying and writing!
Time is a monstrous thing with school, and studying usually takes up most of it. Homework is perhaps the biggest obstacle between yourself and your writing work, and depending on your load, it often leaves you too drained to work on anything else. This is in part why I got into the habit of cycle the two around each other instead. On my free days, I have a “homework first” policy, meaning at least half of my assigned work must be done before I start writing at all. On lengthier projects (essays or studying for exams), I usually break my time apart, putting “writing rewards” at the end of study session. It works and leaves you feeling very productive! The key to this is not procrastinating though; putting off work to write only leaves you stressed and unable to work anyway. It's better use of your time if you just get homework done now, so you can enjoy your novel in peace.
- Use your free time wisely.
I've had a few school-aged friends since I started writing, all excited about The Story Idea that they have conjured up recently. They have story boards they have on Pinterest, and a layout jotted over three notebooks, and all these stellar things they're gonna write. This conversation almost always then branches into a diatribe about how little time they have to write though. They have jobs; they have school, so they can't start this book, much less work every day. “It's so much to do,”- onward and so forth...
I'll tell you, this conversation confuses me to no end.
And forgive me; I freelance, so my free time is a little different. But you know that break you have during the summer? That weekend where you don't need to study? That aforementioned hour between classes? You could write there. You could write anywhere. Most novelists don't just sit around and wait for inspiration; they locate inspiration whilst working a job (or two), or taking care of kids, or yes- attending school. Your free time is your ally, and when you use it well, writing happens. Otherwise, Netflix and Facebook happens, and that's on you alone.
- Ignore the doubts.
You can write around your classes. You can make time for your work. You can finish a novel.
And no matter your age, or gender, or what you're in school for, write what you want. Creative writing classes won't make you a writer anymore than math classes could make me a math teacher. Majoring in English will usually make no difference on whether or not you can jot down 100k novel. If that's your passion in school, go for it, but if not, write anyway.
Are you a college student and writing? What are your experiences? What have you done you to keep up your work?