The Time Is Write: How Making Time to Write Each Day Helps Keep Me Grounded (Guest post by Desiree Villena)
Lately, time seems to have lost all its usual meaning. When everything is done at home, the divide between work and leisure becomes hazy — one long, delirious blur without our typical routines to divide the days. This can make it hard to maintain momentum in your writing, especially when you feel a million competing voices in your head telling you all the things you should be doing: working harder, spending time with family, reading more, sleeping more…
I, too, often struggle with how to balance my creative projects with personal and professional demands. But though structure may have vanished, there’s still the same number of hours in a day. I’ve found that carving out dedicated writing time, even if it’s just a little bit every day, helps me regain a sense of meaning — I can’t control what goes on in the world outside, but I can control what happens in my stories.
Whether you’re writing a book that you hope to publish soon or crafting tales purely for your own enjoyment, writing for even a small portion of each day can do wonders for your artistic and emotional health. Here, I outline my approach to balancing writing with my other commitments, and delve into how working on my stories keeps me from feeling overwhelmed in the chaos.
Making use of small moments
Maybe you’ve already got a consistent writing schedule that keeps you on track — but for most of us, that’s a hard thing to establish! Building a reliable writing routine has been something that plagues even the most dedicated of authors. Personally, I’ve never quite been able to commit to a strict writing routine. While sometimes I wish I could make myself write at the same time every day or hit concrete targets, life is too unpredictable, and I’ve come to realize different writing tips work for different people!
Especially when you have a full-time job, a family, or other obligations that require your time and mental energy, dedicating hours of each day simply to write can feel like an unrealistic luxury. So my philosophy is to allow myself flexibility to write when I can, taking advantage of small pockets of time. Morning runs can occasionally serve as great brainstorming sessions, and gaps between meetings can be a great time to start outlining my next chapter. I even find myself jotting down ideas while watching TV or doing chores — inspiration can strike at strange times.
Writing does not have to be a 9-to-5 job or a non-stop marathon. Everyone writes at their own pace, and little chunks of time can quickly add up to great progress. Breaking up your day with short bursts of creativity can also help replenish your energy, giving you something to look forward to throughout the day.
Keeping my vision in sight
Dedicating at least small bits of each day to writing also gives me a sense of purpose as an author. Every day, I’m asking myself to treat writing seriously, and reminding myself why I write in the first place: while it can be challenging, especially when I’m struggling with a difficult passage or trying to edit, it is also an immense joy to bring characters to life on the page.
Keeping in mind my larger vision for each project also gives me something concrete to work toward — thinking about what this short story might look like when it’s complete, or where this character arc goes. Imagining my future readers once my work is published also helps give me a sense of purpose as I try to write stories that resonate. I ask myself questions like How would I describe this book? Why does it matter to me? Keeping sight of what I’m trying to write and why I’m writing serves as a potent reminder of why my work matters, even in confusing times.
Turning each day into a non-zero day
My philosophy of writing is dedicated to the idea of the “non-zero day”: doing something each and every day to advance toward my goal, even if it’s a tiny step forward. Progress is progress, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to tackle a challenge like “finish a story” or “edit a draft” — setting small, achievable, goals is a great way to keep myself motivated.
I aim to do a little something every day to stay grounded in my writing habits. Even if I’m not adding a single sentence to my work in progress, I can find other ways to still develop my craft: doing research, sketching out character backstory, or reading other books for inspiration. If you’re stuck on a book you’re writing, you might spend time looking at comparable titles, thinking about how’ll market your finished work to your audience, or developing your author website — granting each day a sense of purpose.
Giving myself freedom to explore
Even with all my strategies for maintaining inspiration, writer’s block inevitably hits sometimes. When this happens, I often find it helpful to allow myself to use “imperfect words” and freewrite without filtering.
The goal of freewriting is to write unhindered by self-consciousness or the expectation that a story has to be immediately polished. I go wherever my mind takes me. That means, if I feel inspired to take a total detour from my current project by starting a story in a new genre or embodying a silly new character, I let myself go for it! Sometimes using a creative writing prompt or taking part in a writing challenge also helps me regain that spark of imagination.
I never want to lose sight of the passion that urges me to write in the first place. That’s why my approach to my writing is to make it a funhabit — like a daily treat, not a job or chore. When I feel overwhelmed by what today might hold or wonder what tomorrow might look like, writing grounds me in the present moment — harnessing the emotion and noise of the world and making today count.
Lately I have been especially grateful for each sentence I put on the page. Even as we lose our sense of time, we do not lose our sense of purpose: words have immense power, and will always make themselves heard.
Desiree Villena is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors with the world’s best publishing resources. In her spare time, Desiree enjoys reading contemporary fiction and writing short stories — and occasionally giving writerly advice! She looks forward to writing in coffee shops and libraries again soon.