Buying stationary, finding textbooks, cleaning up a desk, having scarce time to write… Right, it is back-to-school season again. How can young writers keep developing their craft when there is also a pile of assignments to complete? This is a list of the things I discovered during the past years which helped me fit writing into my schedule without setting aside my responsibilities or mental health.
Discipline Over Motivation
If you wait to feel motivated to sit in front of your screen or notebook to write, chances are you will make little progress. One of the keys to growth is consistency. Now, this does not mean that you should force yourself to write every single day. But set a designed space to write every week, depending on your schedule and priorities.
To me, this means writing down the time, place, and goal of my writing session when I plan the week ahead. I find writing sprints on YouTube helpful as well. You can also try setting an alarm, or planning writing dates with your writing buddies to help keep you accountable. And when you feel like your inspiration is lacking, I recommend trying out random writing prompts for short stories to get your momentum back.
Explore Other Forms of Creativity
Photography, drawing, theatre, dancing, playing an instrument. Do not be scared to take that class or enter that club. High school gives you the chance to experiment with a variety of hobbies. They help you gain new perspectives, find communities, and widen your opportunities. True, perhaps in doing so you will have to make your writing sessions shorter to not overflow your schedule. But I do believe that it is worth it, since you will acquire new skills and points of view that will then make you a stronger writer.
Last year, this mindset took me to modeling. Who would have thought? But even more surprising, it taught me to battle imposter syndrome, to become a better speaker (which came useful when I had to read a piece out loud for the first time), and explained color theory to me (hello subtext).
Honor Your Resting Time
Taking both long and short breaks is vital to avoid burnout. During exam periods especially, I’ve had to acknowledge that I will simply not have enough time or energy to work on my pieces. Feeling rushed or pressured to write limits your enjoyment of it. Writing does not have to feel like a chore. I am constantly reminding myself not to bite more than I can chew, and that taking breaks is necessary to preserve my mental health.
Find a Writing Buddy
Sharing your writing process with others helps you remain accountable. I briefly referred to this during the first point, but the question remains, how do I find a writing buddy? I recommend reaching out to people through writing or book clubs, writergram, or TYWI’s discord server. Depending on your current WIP, you might search for another writer who works with the same genre. If you admire someone for a particular skill (character development, world-building, pacing, among others), try asking them to be writing buddies.
I know that the idea of approaching someone with this proposal and presenting them your work can be scary. But the worst that can happen is that they reject your offer. Most likely, they will be glad to help, give constructive criticism, and show you their work too.
Put Your Work Out There
This is your sign to submit to that Lit Mag you have been reading for a while. To start the writergram account you’ve been planning. To go to that open-mic night, to enter that contest. You will find community, friends, and maybe even contacts. Take as many opportunities as you can. I cannot assure you that they will all be a success, but this is the path for you to improve.
Plus, if writing is already something you enjoy, why not turn it into something college admission boards will find intriguing?
is a young planster with too much passion and too little time on a day. She has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, whether they are thoroughly researched flash fiction pieces or improvised bedtime stories.
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