With winter break ending and the spring semester around the corner (cue the chorus of weeping students) I wanted to draw up a little cheat sheet on how to write productively while balancing a load of college courses.
- Schedule classes with your writing schedule in mind. This may seem slightly crazy to some, but in a previous post (link) I mentioned the importance of being territorial about your writing time and that principle still applies when it comes to school. I’m not going to advise anyone to put their writing before their school work, however there is nothing wrong with trying to accommodate and come to terms with your writing and school schedules in order to find a happy medium between the two. Have I switched classes and altered my schedule to better suit my writing? Yes. However, I would warn any freshmen, sophomores and even upperclassmen to get those required classes out of the way fast.
- Finish assignments and homework Fast. Do your work when it’s assigned if possible, that way you’re not forced to write through guilt. It’s tough to be creative and devote yourself to your work when you have the thought of that paper you didn’t write or test you didn’t study for lingering at the back of your mind.
- Utilize the library. Where else can you find a silent environment with comfy couches, free books, free wi-fi and almost unlimited resources. In the library I’m able to get some of my best work done, and in between breaks sometimes I like to thumb through volumes on the Anthropology of Death or textbooks devoted to parasitic diseases or whatever strikes my fancy. You’re paying enough to go to school, so make use of all the features that are afforded to you. The library is chief among these.
- Learn to write on the go. Download a word-processing app for your phone and write when you have the spare time to. I’m talking in the minutes before class starts, in line at the coffee shop, on the walks between classes. If you can text on the go you’re already writing on the go so why not devote some of that word count to your WIP. Make a point to write something (one sentence or five paragraphs, it doesn’t matter) , anything, when you leave your dorm, house, apartment, whatever. Try to create a habit. Next time you’re standing awkwardly among of group of people and you’re preapring to pretend to text someone so you don’t look like an idiot, enter your note/writing app and writing something instead. It doens’t have to pertain to your story, do a word chain or character descriptions, poetry, song lyrics, dialogue it doesn’t matter. Just try to make it a habit. You’ll be surprised by your productivity, trust me.
- Take Writing Courses and Join Writing Communities. A bit of a no brainer, but I think that college students tend to underestimate just how much the act of writing (in all genres and mediums) can affect them. Write a lot, surround yourself with writers, join writing communities and clubs and get creative about keeping yourself inspired.
Good luck and happy writing!