When Writing Takes a Backseat – Author Toolbox

If your September has been anything like my September, then you have been a busy bee. School started, so my days are filled with teaching, lesson planning, and after-school activities. (Thank you #51Writers for today’s topic of Oxford commas. As you can see, I am definitely on #teamoxfordcomma!)

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Image from here.

The problem…

Okay, so we’re busy. What is the problem exactly?

My novel is suffering! That’s the problem. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had any quality writing time since July’s Camp NaNo event. I was working on the second round of revisions for my paranormal mystery novel, and I’m still not finished.

Image result for camp nanowrimo
Camp NaNoWriMo

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still writing in order to use mentor pieces in my classroom, but that’s not helping my novel. Which leads me to the big problem… What do we do when our writing takes a back seat?

1. Figure out why you’re not writing.

When faced with several non-writing days in a row, take a few minutes to analyze the reason or reasons. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do I have writer’s block(No, I know what I want to write next.)
  • Do I know which step of the writing process I’m on, or what I need to do with this step? (Yes, I’m working on revisions at the moment.)
  • Am I struggling to complete my first draft(No, my first draft is finished… This particular one is, anyway.)
  • Am I unsure where my brainstorming is leading? (No, I’m not working on brainstorming.)
  • Do I have all my writing tools available? (Yes, I have everything I need. I could probably use a bit more time, though.)
  • Am I simply busy with everyday life? (Yes! That’s it!)

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2. Stop feeling guilty for not writing.

That’s it. I give you permission to not feel guilty when you don’t get to write. Many people will tell you to write every day. Well, yes… That is ideal, but it’s not always achievable.

Image result for write every day if you can

Think about the goals you’ve set for yourself. Writing every day is beneficial. We all know that. However, if your past few months have been as busy as mine, then writing each day hasn’t happened.

It’s okay. Don’t feel guilty. Instead, feel excited when you do get the chance to write. Build up that momentum to hopefully continue to write the next day or even a few times that week.

If you keep attaching negative feelings to your writing (guilt), then writing will lose the thrill when you do get the chance to sit down again. Attach the positive feelings that made you fall in love with writing to begin with!

3. Write when you can.

My best writing time is in the evening when my kiddos are in bed for the night. As I determined above, my life is simply filled with all sorts of other tasks right now, so writing isn’t a top priority. (I can already see some of your faces…)

What do you mean writing isn’t a top priority?

It’s true. I don’t know about you, but I have a family. I have a day job. I have other tasks taking over my writing time. That doesn’t mean that I don’t write, though. Sometimes, in order to curb the feelings of guilt completely, you simply have to write when you can:

  • Wake up a little early.
  • Write during your break at work.
  • Write during your lunch break at work. (Don’t forget to eat, too.)
  • Write in the evening.
  • Write when the house is silent.
  • Write while you’re sitting in your car before you go into work (leave a little early).
  • Set a timer, and write for only that amount of time.
  • Set aside specific days, and write a few times a week.

The most important thing here is figuring out what works best for you. We all know that in order to become better writers, we have to write. Try a couple different things until something works for you. My big one lately has been the timer. Every ten minutes helps me get a little closer to the end of my novel.

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What is your point, exactly?

It’s okay to have some off days… Even when they all stick together and form off months. The trick is making sure that you are still writing when you can and feeling positive about the progress you do make.

Just be you.

Share with me in the comments: how do you handle writing when it takes a backseat to life? What do you do? How often do you still write?

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Resources

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Camp NaNoWriMo

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27 thoughts on “When Writing Takes a Backseat – Author Toolbox

  1. This is a great post! I have certain times when my day job takes up more time than normal leaving me with less time to write. And I totally agree with keeping away the guilty feelings and instead focus on when you do have a little time. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi! I’m having the same problem with September! 🙂 And I always make myself feel guilty for not writing. I need to get better at using little snippets of time. I feel like if I can’t dedicate a big chunk of time, then it’s not worth it. 🙂
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I use Nanowrimo and camp nanowrimo to get going. Somehow the process works for me. I’ll also get up early to write before the day starts. That often works if everyone else in the house is asleep. Just me an my dog cuddled on the couch. It’s a lovely time to write.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post on finding a way to make your writing fit your life. I think all of us struggle with finding a balance, and the reality of writing as a part of your life is that there will be ebbs and flows. I use NaNoWriMo and the Camp NaNoWriMos as tools to help reevaluate how much time I spend writing and to recommit if I have drifted away. My one goal for all of them is just to write every day, even if it is only a couple sentences. However, as my August article elucidated my life got the better of my writing this summer. I think you just have to make sure you don’t let the feeling that you aren’t doing enough hinder making forward progress. Thanks for sharing your methods of getting back in the writing chair.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is my first time here. I’ll follow your blog and connect with you online. Wow! A quiet house. That must be nice. I’m a morning writer when I can. I’m just too tired at night to concentrate on anything like story-writing. I truly hope your September gets better. If not, there’s always October! Thanks for sharing this with Author Toolbox followers.
    Victoria Marie Lees, http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s only quiet after the kiddos go to bed! Otherwise it’s pretty much a madhouse. 😬

      I started plotting a new idea earlier today, so maybe September is getting better? Not for my novel… but still…

      Thanks for the follow and for your comment!

      Like

  6. I absolutely sit down and ask myself why I’m not writing. Okay, sometimes I’m standing when this happens, but the point is, if I’m procrastinating, I’m now able to figure out why and address the issue. Thanks for the post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that NaNo is draining. You may be right about still recovering… 🤔

      Is it awful that I still want to participate in November? 😬 I’ll have to Make sure I don’t overdo it, though. I’m thinking of weekly goals instead of their daily goals…

      Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for the reminder! I tend to feel guilty when I don’t write. I’m trying to catch up on a few things on my blog. I mainly focused on my fiction for the past three months. There is not enough time in a day to do it all!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for the reminder that off days are okay 🙂
    I used to write 3 times a week with set times. Lately I’ve only been writing my weekly short stories. It’s not a question of time for me: I’m in a slump and don’t know how to finish the first draft of my novel. I also have other plot ideas that I really want to write!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been working on the end of my novel for ages. I had one ending in my first draft just to finish it. I changed it for my second draft. I’m changing it one more time in this round of revisions, which I think will be the final change for it (not counting minor things).

      I’d say try a new project for a bit as a break!

      Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sounds like I may have to force through the end of my first draft just to finish it, even if it later changes: Thanks for sharing, glad I’m not the only one who struggles with endings!

        I’m doing a new project for NaNoWriMo, and I can’t wait to work on it 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. My August was quite unproductive when it came to getting writing done. Like any writing. There were joyous occasions to participate in and then I got blocked out of my blog and that was it. I was overcome with a wave of ennui and got some other work done and took the “off-time” to enjoy some other pursuits.
    Because I don’t care what society says. Writing is a career just like any other and we all need vacation time! You will get to it when you get to it 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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