Whether it’s school, work, or both, there are plenty of distractions and time-consuming activities writers need to do until they can afford to do what they love–write.

School and work are obviously extremely important and need to be taken seriously, but both can be time consuming, leaving the writer with little to no time or energy to write. As someone who is practicing that balance even right now, here’s a short list of tips that may help you keep the balance in your life without going crazy.

  • Prioritize. This is the most important rule. You need to learn what is a priority. Is school more important than work? Can you survive with cutting your hours down so you have more time for school and writing, or do you need all the hours you can get? What about school? If you’re a whiz at school, then you may be able to get by with less study time, giving you more time for work and writing.
  • Adapt Your Writing. Some writers wait for inspiration to strike. If you aren’t dedicated to writing, or if it’s more of a hobby, then this isn’t really a problem, and this list isn’t really for you. To those who are dedicated for writing, and are trying to keep up a schedule to finish your book/other works by a certain time, you cannot wait. You have to learn to write whenever you have the extra time to, whether you are inspired or not. Just pumping out the words can help keep you interested in the story. Too much time away because of school and work may draw you away from your original interest in the story you’re working on, so sneak in writing anywhere you can, even if it’s just a sentence.
  • Learn to stay up late and wake up early. This is a rule even if you’re simply in college. There will be a lot of late nights and waking up early just to get your classwork done and get to school on time, but this especially accounts for if you’re trying to balance school with a job and your book. For example, the last three days I’ve gotten off work at about eleven thirty at night. Each night I went to bed at around twelve thirty in the morning. Then I had to be up at seven just to get back at work. Do whatever you need to do in order to stay up and wake up. Drink caffeine, eat some apples, have a study partner or some sort of loud distraction to prevent you from falling asleep. As much as it’s exhausting, it’s sometimes the only way to keep up your schedule, and in the end, it will be worth it when you finally have a day off and you have time to just relax because you already accomplished what you had to do.
  • Cut Down Distractions. Cut off Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr, if only for a little while. Even close the windows or tabs so that the temptation isn’t there. These are great distractors and time-wasters. If you’re trying to balance a life of writing within a life of work, school, or both, then no time needs to be wasted. Each instance should go towards at least one of the three. Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t relax, which brings me to my next point.
  • Find an escape. If you’re running dry and exhausted, it’s okay to sleep. It’s okay to slack on writing. This brings up the priorities part. If you want to cut down on work, do it, and don’t feel bad that you are. If you have to write less, then do so. Don’t push yourself so much that by the end of the week you’re in tears, ready to pull your hair out. If you ever feel yourself stressing out, find some downtime and take it to relax. You deserve it.

Life on its own can be hard and taxing, especially for those in college, or just beginning in their careers. Try to find an even balance, but if one thing in your life has to wait so you can focus on another, that’s okay, too. You can always go back to what you left behind.

Just remember that, in the end, the work you’re doing now will be worth it. Keep pushing forward, and don’t give up.

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