I need help figuring out what I want to achieve this year.
Splendid! Let’s begin your year of writerly exploration. Instead of focusing on what you don’t know, focus on the wealth of possibility at your fingertips. What if you decided to try a new genre each month, to see if any bear fruit for potential publication down the road? Could you attempt a new writing prompt each week or do some freewriting exercises each weekday? Would a season spent reading craft books help provide restorative focus, or might you find a spark with a research deep-dive into something that’s always fascinated you in the hopes of writing about it someday? Could you take a virtual class or workshop in a subject that interests you? Making 2021 a year of learning combined with exploration might lead you to a passion project for 2022.
I need help finding more time to write.
The good news is that this is something all writers struggle with. The bad news is we all struggle because it’s hard to do. There are always going to be things tugging at your sleeve, pulling your attention elsewhere. But there are steps we can take in an effort to spend more time with our craft this year.
Track your hours. It’s hard to manage money when you don’t know how you’re spending it. The same applies to time. Keep a simple log of what activities fill your days, whether it’s on a sticky note, a draft email or note on your phone, or a dedicated time-tracking website or app like Toggl.
Identify activities that are easy to drop. Social media is usually the easiest culprit to blame for lack of time, but it’s true: Doomscrolling through Facebook or Twitter isn’t going to help your book get written any faster, and it probably isn’t doing any wonders for your mental health, either. Look around the other screens in your life. Could you swap out that early-morning tablet session for some quality time with your manuscript, or wind down each evening with one Great British Baking Show episode instead of three?
Reclaim hours spent outside of the house. Are there pockets of time on your calendar that used to host out-of-the-house activities, such as a weekly class, monthly meet-up, or annual conference? Since you already have the time mentally blocked off, reserve it for writing instead.
Ask for help. Caregiving, parenting, or demanding work obligations can make it feel borderline impossible to find extra hours in any given day. If there’s no flab left to cut in your daily schedule, it might prompt a reexamination of your professional or personal obligations. Could a partner help you find even a tiny bit of time on a day off to write? Could you change your hours or readjust responsibilities at work? Are there things on your personal or professional plate that you could realistically outsource?
Note: For many parents, caregivers, and healthcare workers, quiet time, alone time, and free time are all triply hard to come by in a global pandemic. If you try all of these time-finding strategies and still come up empty, know that you’re not alone by any stretch of the imagination. Any of these resolutions can easily be tabled until you find yourself with a little more breathing room.