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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The new semester brings more independence, more friendships and more memories. It also brings more assignments, deadlines and work. It can be difficult to balance school, work and socializing with writing. I know from experience. I can best compare the experience to a set of scales, one heavier than the other and constantly on the verge of tipping. You could also use the metaphor of choosing something. “On one hand, I could write, but on the other…”

Finding time to write during the school year can be a battle. However, for every problem comes at least three solutions; here’s a list of tips that help me write when my schedule’s overflowing.

create a writing schedule

Ernest Hemingway wrote at dawn while Ursula Le Guin wrote from seven to noon; one of the most common pieces of advice that famous writers swear by is keeping a writing schedule. Setting aside a predetermined time to write helps it to become habitual. It doesn’t have to be a day long affair—Le Guin’s writing time was a little under five hours.

Now, when exactly to write? It all depends on your schedule and preferences. I’ve noticed that many authors write in the morning, as seen with the examples above, but writing at night can be just as lucrative. I always set aside time to write in the mid-afternoon, since my classes run in the morning and I struggle to stay awake at night. Experiment with different times, and see which timeframes have you the most productive. Carve time out then, and stick to it!

CREATE WORD GOALS

Maybe a schedule isn’t your thing. While schedules help me personally, I understand how they can feel restricting to another. A second viable approach is setting a fixed amount of words to write in a day. This can be done all at once or in chunks, depending on the time you have and your preferred method of writing.

I use the National Novel Writing Month website to keep track of my projects and word counts. I also have the ability to set monthly goals with NaNo. If you prefer pen and paper, the same can be done by simply tracking your word count on paper. Last April, I kept track of progress in my novel by using an old whiteboard.

The word goal you choose can also have a major impact on your success. 500 words is roughly four pages of content, and that is usually what I aim for in a day when I’m at my busiest. 1,000 words in thirty days amounts to over 80 pages—roughly the length of a novella. The quicker you want your project to be finished, the higher you should shoot for your word count.

CARRY A JOURNAL

This is a piece of advice that I originally blew off, which is something that I highly regret doing! Some writers keep a notebook dedicated entirely to their current project. Others may dedicate one solely to practical writing advice, while others may have notebooks to write down whatever ideas might become full fledged stories.

I personally carry two writer’s notebooks. One is filled with technical writing advice that I collect from my writing classes. The other, my pride and joy, comes with me everywhere I go. Accurately dubbed my “inspo book,” this notebook is filled with anything that might become a story one day. It’s filled with lines from other books, writing prompts, names, and even Tumblr posts that got me thinking about potential stories. Whenever I hit writer’s block, I pull out the book and start flipping through it.

How this advice applies to you depends entirely on your preferences. What I recommend is to always carry a notebook (paper or digital) with you. Write down anything that might even resemble a possible story. You’d be surprised where a single sentence can take you.

give up some spare time—in moderation!

Now, one of the best ways to free up some writing time is to prioritize and replace certain tasks with writing. This is much easier said than done, but I don’t want to suggest anything otherwise.

Think about everything you do on an average day. Where might you be able to squeeze in writing time or subtract something so that you can write more? The cliché example is watching Netflix for hours. If you find yourself doing just that, perhaps you could stop and write? Lunch breaks, late nights, early mornings, and stolen time are all very popular writing periods amongst the greats for a reason.

Despite this, I am of the belief that health comes before all else. This is the case for both physical and mental health. When writing becomes a source of stress or dread, you need to step back and find out what stole the fun from writing. After all, people become writers because of the sheer thrill that it brings. If implementing any of this advice sounds stress-inducing, you are no less of a writer for refusing to take it. This is what helps me personally, and it doesn’t make me more or less of a writer.

Please take care of yourselves. Take a walk in fresh air, eat a piece of fruit, and commit to reducing stress. Don’t give up your social life or happiness to churn out your stories. If you’re unwell physically, just take the day off. The past two years have made us all familiar with the consequences of neglecting your health.

DAYDREAM

My best ideas start with a prompt and are expanded in my mind. I visualize the world the characters inhabit, play out scenes and get myself excited to write. If you’re struggling to physically sit down and write, let your mind wander and expand on a story idea. You might find yourself inspired, or you might at least come up with new ideas to implement later. I do it all the time, and I find it quite enjoyable.

As I previously mentioned, finding time to write can be a battle, but it’s a battle to be won and conquered. Take up your sword in one hand and your pen in the other; with newfound freedom. it’s time to write.

"No woman was ever ruined by a book." – Jimmy Walker
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