In my previous post, I addressed the difficulties of writing during the summer and the pitfalls of procrastination, isolation, and discouragement. I’ve come to realize that beyond summer, the school year presents its own difficulties for young writers, especially regarding time management.
It turns out that procrastination has a couple of faces for writers. In the summer, where there is less structure and more free time, it is easy to put off writing until later. But during the school year, where the structure and duties of school can become confining, creative-writing can be a method of procrastination against school work. So, in both seasons, procrastination plays a big role either as an enemy of the creative writing process, or as a delaying tactic to the rigors and responsibilities of academics.
In conversations with many fellow young writers, I have learned that they find their motivation to write severely hampered by their schedules and general time management struggles. It can be very difficult to make writing a priority in our lives when we have so many other, often more important responsibilities. So, how can we flow with our creative juices when our schedules are obstructing our thought processes? How can we protect the artistry God put inside of us, our passion for writing, through the seasons of our lives? How do we honor both our creativity and our responsibilities? And how do we not just work writing into our lives, but make it a habit, a way of life? Well, it all comes down to Time Management.
Invite God Into The Process
It is important to dedicate your writing to God. After all, God did give you the passion for writing and He will mold and hone your skills if you commit your ways to honor Him. Keep Him in the center of your passions and they will thrive in ways you never could imagine. The more you pray and faithfully give Him the glory of your talents, the more you may realize He opens opportunities for you.
Another important way to help you focus your heart, soul, and mind, as well as focus your passion, is to plan time for devotions every day. Spend time reading God’s word and center your mind on Him before you start your day. When we give our time and talents back to Him, He is faithful to reward us.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
Structure Your Day
To make writing a habit, we have to create a structure to our day to free up time for our creative pursuits. So, let’s discuss some methods to help manage our time.
First, ask God to give you discernment to see where there are times in your busy schedule so that you can live out your special creative passion. Often times, when we say we have NO time, it’s just because we can’t see it at first. So, examine your day and plan out at least fifteen to twenty minutes a day for writing. Hopefully, that timeframe will eventually lengthen, depending on your week and free time. If you can manage up to thirty minutes or more, I highly recommend it. You will see your writing drastically improve.
Second, find a space where you are inspired and can focus. Find the surroundings and conditions you write best in and set yourself in your element. I personally find it easiest to write around my family but with headphones on, blaring my writing playlist into my ears. Now, if you enjoy coffee and need that along with a space away from everyone, I can understand the need for that as well. A few other suggestions would be to retreat to a park, backyard, or other quiet outdoor space – wherever you feel the most comfortable. The outdoors can be very inspiring as long as you select a spot free of noise and distractions. So find your element and write away in your own creative space.
Third, tune out the distractions. One of the biggest distractions these days is social media, turn it off, put your devices on airplane mode, or leave your phone in another room and just focus on writing for your carved out time. Social media can take up more time than we think it does and it is a huge distraction when what you need to be doing is writing. So, if you are looking for more writing time or are looking for a way to better concentrate on your writing, turn off electronic devices for a bit (unless you absolutely NEED it for writing, like a dictionary, thesaurus, or for research) and change your attention to your passion.
Honor Your Responsibilities
When I say to make time for writing, I don’t mean for you to skip out on your other responsibilities to write instead. We need to honor God and others by the way we manage our days.
There are priorities that come before writing and when we honor those priorities with their own time slots, we are honoring more than our word.
Homework, chores, work, family time, church, and other responsibilities come first, especially when we promise our time to those tasks. So, please don’t neglect your duties in order to find time for your writing. Our dependability can be put into question as well as our trustworthiness. When we place each responsibility and goal in its own time slot, our hearts will be more at ease and more focused on our work in all areas of life, and God will honor the time that we do give to our writing.
A Personal Testimony
My awesome friend and fellow young writer, Hannah from Virginia, tells how she has made writing more of a priority in her life.
“Writing, for me, can go up and down. This past summer, I started out writing every day for the majority of the morning. But, then I got out of the habit and did not write a word for almost two months. When school started back, I was still very lazy in my writing, I would sit down, read what I had, and then say “Oh well! I’m tired”.
At first I used school as an excuse for not writing, but I decided to set aside some time at the end of each day to write, and as my first month has progressed, I have noticed that writing at the end of the day is a relief for me. My school day usually starts at 8:00 in the morning and I stay at it until about 1:30 to 2:00. As a homeschooler, I am pretty much at a desk for the entirety of that time. Just sitting, reading, and working math problems all morning can drain you fast, and by evening I am exhausted.
But now I have found that when I write in the evening, even if I am tired, or if it is only a paragraph or re-editing something I have already created, I feel both productive and mentally relieved. Instead of sitting down and watching YouTube videos for the rest of the evening and filling my mind with useless knowledge, I sit down and work on creating words on paper, which refreshes me.”
Time management is an important tool we can use to combat procrastination, that ever-present deterrent to creative pursuits. We either don’t see time for writing or we just don’t feel like we’re in the mood. We make excuses without even really realizing it. However, when we organize our schedule, set a regular time for writing, and find a space that inspires our creativity, we are rising above procrastination.
God has created a marvelous world around us that is full of inspiration, so put into practice good time management, and find that you really do have the time to write while honoring your responsibilities during the school year.
Sadie Irene Miller is a young writer finishing high school. She is a proud homeschooler and the oldest daughter of five children. Hanging out with family and friends, playing sports, and writing are some of her favorite pastimes. She is also the co-creator of a small writing group in her area. Her goal is to reach others with the love of Christ through her writing and her example.