When you’re working a full-time job, following your creative passions almost always take a backseat. You’re probably looking at me, a published author, and thinking – what does she know? She writes for a living! But hear me out.
First off – I didn’t start following my creative passions until I was in my late-twenties. Like most young adults, I put all my energy into my career which, at the time, was in hospitality management. I worked 12-hour shifts on my feet, serving customers, smiling through gritted teeth, lugging boxes and scrubbing floors. When I eventually made it home just before midnight, the last thing I wanted to do was open my laptop and write. So I didn’t. I stayed in my career lane and accepted the belief that writing wasn’t something that I was going to have in my life.
Secondly, I’m not embarrassed to admit that I STILL find it difficult to make time for my writing. Being a published author doesn’t pay the bills, so I spend a lot of my working day doing, er, very little writing. I’m doing other fun stuff like talking on zoom calls with clients, hosting group programs, creating social media content and putting online courses together. And when I DO get to write, it’s often in a marketing capacity where I’m writing blog posts like this with a specific audience in mind.
My artistic pursuits (poetry, non-fiction) are an unpaid craft that no one is asking me to make time for. It’s something that I have to take personal responsibility for and its oh-so-easy to let fall by the wayside.
I’m guessing you’re in a similar situation, where the itch to create clashes with the demands of your 9-to-5 grind, leaving your feeling drained and creatively starved. Good news, babes. I’ve got some advice for ya…
But first, why bother making time to write?
Let’s acknowledge the emotional toll that NOT writing can take on you. The frustration of abandoning your own creative pursuits in favour of professional obligations can lead to a sense of intense emotional pain and creative stagnation. You don’t need me to tell you hat this internal conflict has a drastic impact on your mental well-being.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology tells us that engaging in creative activities is linked to lower stress levels and enhanced mood. With this knowledge, I think it’s essential that you find ways to integrate writing into your daily life. In fact, I’ve seen this happen in real-time with clients who see a correlation between making time to write and the way they show up in the workplace. Having something creative to focus on outside of the 9-5 actually puts them in a better mood during working hours.
OK, enough chit-chat. Here are my tips on how to make time for writing when you work a full-time job.
1. Choose Micro-Moments
Research from the University of Southern California suggests that short bursts of creative activity can be more effective than prolonged sessions. It’s important to understand that creativity doesn’t always require a big chunk of time. Make the most of those 15-minute breaks or your commute, coffee break, or moments between meetings to journal, jot down ideas, snippets, or reflections. Small, consistent efforts add up, giving you a sense of accomplishment and more easily-accessible connection to your creative self.
2. Rituals Over Routines
Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a Sagittarius, or perhaps just a hangover from working in a corporate environment, but either way – I’m incredibly resistant to strict routines. That’s why I love the concept of rituals.
A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that rituals enhance the subjective value of an experience, making it more meaningful. Create personalised writing rituals that serve as transition markers from your working day to your creative life. Whether it’s playing a specific playlist, lighting a scented candle, or your favourite hot drink, these rituals signal to your brain that it’s time to shift into creative mode, making the transition smoother and more enjoyable.
Although it might seem inconsequential, psychological studies tell us that subtle environmental cues can trigger specific behaviours. By establishing writing rituals, you’re creating a conducive environment that supports and encourages your writing habit.
Try these rituals:
- Light a candle (a specific scent reserved for writing time is even better)
- Set some mood lighting
- Move to a space separate from where you work (a cafe, the bedroom, the kitchen table)
- Play your favourite motivtional song (I love Motivation by Normani)
- Set the tone with ambient sounds
3. Action breeds inspiration
Instead of passively waiting for the muse to strike before you take to the page, commit to writing for just five minutes. Yep, just five! I find the act of simply starting initiates a flow that extends beyond the initial timeframe. Research in neuroscience supports this idea that action triggers the brain’s creative centres. Engaging in writing stimulates the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with motivation and pleasure. By taking proactive steps, you not only jumpstart your creative flow but also experience a sense of fulfilment which leads you to write for longer periods of time and get inspired as a result. Action breeds inspiration, turning the creative process into a dynamic force rather than an endless waiting game. Win win!
There’s no doubt that reclaiming your writing time requires a shift in mindset and unconventional strategies. The emotional pain points of juggling work and creative passions are real, but by embracing micro-moments, creating personalised rituals, and reversing the inspiration equation, you CAN prioritise writing and see results.
Above all, I want you to know that your creative pursuits are not a luxury – but a necessity for your well-being. By integrating these strategies, you’ll not only rediscover the joy of writing but also enhance your mental and emotional resilience. Happy writing!