7 Tips For Finding Time to Write as a College Student
In March of my freshman year, a realization crept upon me with a dread similar to a plague of due dates: I had not written, really, in four months.
I vowed to myself that when I started college, I wouldn’t lose writing. In high school, I was known as the girl who cranked out novels. I’d type a few sentences on my iPhone 4 during passing period; I’d hide in the library during pep rallies so I could finish a scene. I loved to sneak in writing when I was supposed to be learning chemistry or shouting school pride; it was my own silent, YA-heroine rebellion.
But somewhere between trying to balance more difficult classes, nasty dining halls, and new friends, something slipped. And it wasn’t that I didn’t have the time. Time sprawled before me like big Texas sky. But the endlessness of it was intimidating. When I had three hours of free time I could never figure out if I should read for class, write for class, or (God forbid) create a story from nothing. I missed the stolen pieces of time that made me a rebel writer.
All the same, I couldn’t go back? I was forced to learn how to work with what I had, and come to find out, college life has a ton of unique writing opportunities; here are some tips on how to take advantage of them.
1. Integrate what you’re studying into your writing. Odds are, you’re as passionate about your degree as you are about writing. Let the two bleed together. If you’re taking an intriguing class about ancient religions, try your hand at historical fiction—or even let it inspire your fantasy worlds. If you’re deep into a STEM field, you’ve got an excellent opportunity to write an incredibly accurate sci-fi. School and writing don’t have to exist on separate planes.
2. Utilize your time off in the winter and summer. After college, it’s rare to have multiple weeks of idle (or at least school-less) time, and you can get a lot done when you want to do so. If you’re drowning in classes, work, and extracurriculars, formulate a writing plan for your time between semesters. Plenty of people write novels in short bursts of time. Take a shot at becoming one of them.
3. Treat your writing like it’s an extra class. Terrifying, but effective. You can assign yourself deadlines for writing projects, and you can make sure the projects are reasonable. Set aside certain times throughout the week to write as if you’re actually attending a lecture—and maybe give yourself a grade and a special treat at the end of the semester!
4. Join (or start!) a writing group. College is about learning, but it’s also one of the last times in your life you’ll be surrounded by people with similar interests. A social life can be just as good for your soul as a good study session. Dig up writer friends around campus and integrate your writing time into your social time. Trust me—there are a ton of secret writers around campus, whether they’re majoring in English or not, and most all of them love a good coffee shop writing session.
5. Take a creative writing class. Most colleges offer creative writing workshops where students read and review one another’s work throughout the semester. These classes are solid ways to carve out time for your craft, meet fellow student writers, and learn from experienced professors—all while earning college credit. And you never know! With a lot of schools hiring published writers, you’re likely to find that you’re getting feedback from someone thoroughly experienced in the industry.
6. Get active with other writers on the internet. Let’s be honest. You’re already scrolling through Twitter or Instagram when you should be studying anyway. Make social media productive by using it like a digital writing group. Interact with fellow writers from different backgrounds, share writing experiences, and make new friends. Maybe even start a blog! Having an audience for your writing will help keep you posting and creating, and it’ll help you build the author platform of literary agents and publishers’ dreams!
7. Make time to reconnect with your writing when you have some time to breathe, much like you would with friends, family, or the cute person you’ve been talking to in your boring math class. Take your characters on a lunch date; since they’re fictional and therefore can’t eat anything, they’re cheap! Sweet talk your poems on a walk in the park just as the leaves are starting to turn the yellow, red, and orange of hard candies. Light a cheap candle, pray the RA doesn’t smell the flame, and curl up under some blankets in your dorm with a journal. Pampering yourself after a load of classwork can also include pampering your writing.