Juggling Writing and School: Part 2

IMG_1323Hello lovely readers,

I want to apologize for being rather late on this post. The irony is that I’m writing several posts on juggling writing and school, and these last two weeks school took over my life. Thanks for you patience. Anyways, I seem to be over the hump and am flying towards the end of my semester. So today, we have two of my fellow writing friends with us. In my first post I talked about ways I juggled writing and school. I wanted to make sure that you guys got to hear from other people to who may have other strategies. Anyways, my lovely friends, Jessica and Lauren, kindly answered some questions I had about them juggling writing and school.

Q: What is your favorite way to squeeze in writing while attending college?

Jessica: My favorite way to squeeze in writing in college is to make sure it’s the first thing I do every day. That means that if I have to work at 7am, my alarm goes off at 5am, and I write for an hour. This suits me because I tend to lose focus and drive as the day goes on. If I get writing “out of the way” first thing, then no matter how nuts the rest of the day gets, I still got some writing done.

Lauren: When I have lighter semesters I’ll schedule a specific time to write, every day. When I have heavier semesters I will write whenever I get a moment. Before class starts, during meals, car rides, during boring lectures (shhh don’t tell anyone I said that), etc.

Q: What is a piece of advice you would give freshman you about writing while going to school?

J: I would advise a freshman writer to set aside a specific chunk of time every day to write. The earlier, the better. My freshman year, I remember that it was unpredictable how any given day might go. I really failed at keeping up with writing freshman year. I would always think, “I’ll get to it later tonight!” Then later would arrive and I’d find myself in the dormitory lobby eating pizza with my friends at two in the morning. Later never really comes! Writing has got to be now!

L: This piece of advice applies to all parts of college, not just the writing part. And that is get a planner. In it write down all of your assignments and events as well as a to do list then schedule a specific time to write. This decreases stress because you know exactly what you have to get done. It makes college a lot more manageable and finding a time to write a lot less stressful. Also, college is all about balance and sometimes you have to compromise but don’t stop writing. Some days you can write for an hour but other days you may only have a couple of minutes in between classes and that’s ok. Lastly, be careful not to burn yourself out. I’m a history major so I write a lot (and I mean a lot) of papers. Sometimes I have to take a break from my personal writing so that I don’t get burned out on writing in general. Your brain needs a break otherwise it will be a lot harder to write and the quality of your writing might decrease.

Q: What surprised you about juggling college and writing?

J: What surprised me most when college first started was how easily distracted I became. I was in love with a sparkly new lifestyle, and I could rarely bring myself to turn down social excursions in order to write. When I finally did sit down to face my projects, I was too drained to buck myself up and make any progress. Until I started making writing the first priority of my day, it was very hard for me to find time to write, not because of outside circumstances, but because of myself.

L: Writing is really easy for me to push on the back burner. I have to be very intentional about it. It’s because I do so much reading and writing for school I really do have to push myself. It’s a heck of a lot easier to watch Netflix when I have some spare time.

Q: What is the most time consuming part of writing (brainstorming, first draft, edits, etc)?

J: For me, the most time consuming part of writing is revising. I can crank out a first draft of a novel in a month or two, but I have been known to spend years ripping a story apart, writing and rewriting and adding and deleting and rearranging the whole thing. My first few drafts of revisions usually I make the story rougher than the rough draft. It takes a lot of experimentation for me to figure what actually works and feels right.

L: For me, the planning is the most time-consuming part, specifically world building. It takes me forever because I go pretty detailed and it takes me a while to think through those things.


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