Writing Corner: On Balancing Writing With Uni

Hi all! I’m so sorry that it’s been so long since I last did one of these posts, I had intended to keep up one a month when I went back to Uni but it just hasn’t been possible with my workload this semester, it’s been hard enough keeping up with my Jo Talks posts, let alone with this one as well, so going forward, at least whilst I’m doing my Journalism project next semester, I’m not going to commit to a specific posting schedule for this feature, you’ll get something when you get something!

That kind of brings me on quite nicely to what I wanted to talk about today: balancing writing with Uni work. My degree is obviously writing focused anyway, given that I’m doing a History and Journalism degree, and given that I do both my blog, and writing for The National Student, I do often find myself experiencing writing burnout. The last thing I want to do, if I’ve spent the whole day working on something for Uni, and then written an article for The National Student, or a post for my blog, is work on my novel. Yesterday was the first time I’d even looked at my edits since I came back to Uni in September because the sheer volume of writing I’ve been doing since I came back has meant I haven’t had the time or really the energy to edit TINALS!

I started TINALS when I was in my second year of Uni, during NaNoWriMo, which was amazing for me at that point, I was only in my second year of Uni, I didn’t have the same volume of assignments that I do now, so working on it a little every day for a month was easy enough then and it was really the kick in the butt I needed to just get the words down.

Since then, it’s been a lot more difficult balancing writing with Uni, because obviously my workload has increased since second year. There are things you can do however, if you are a student writer, to keep your novel ticking over, even when you feel like you are overwhelmed with work. I got as much as I could done on weekends, and made the most of the times when my workload was lighter, in order to get as much editing done as I could, especially since my first round of edits was largely extending my story to get it up to the required wordcount for YA fantasies (I was about 20K under when I finished my first draft, so that was a lot of work). The holidays were also an incredible help to me, I finished most of my first round of revisions during the summer holidays this year and they were a lot more extensive than my current round of revisions, so it was important to me that I definitely had those done before coming back to Uni. I’m also using Christmas to get a start on my second round of edits, as I know I’m going to be incredibly busy when I get back after the holidays.

I also found that when I wasn’t too busy to do so (which hasn’t been this semester), being in my Uni’s Creative Writing Society was really helpful because it gave me the chance to have just an hour every week where I didn’t have to feel guilty about solely concentrating on my writing, so if you are a student writer, I highly recommend joining a society like that at your own Uni, if they have one, because finding opportunities to write your novel can be scarce especially when you have so much else on!

I’m trying to remind myself as well, that even though my Uni/writing balance has shifted somewhat more towards Uni this semester and away from editing, that my novel is still going to be there when I’m done and that it’s not a race to get it finished and off for querying, that at the moment finishing my degree is the most important thing. I also remind myself that even if I’m not writing my novel all the time, that by doing this and writing for The National Student and writing for my degree course, I’m flexing the writing muscle and will be a better writer when I do come back to my novel.

There’s no secret trick to balancing being a student with being a writer, and a lot of it is just trial and error and seeing what works for you. I write mostly in the evenings, quite late at night, because I’m not a morning person and that can sometimes be a curse, since I don’t always feel like writing after a long day of work, but I’m not great at concentrating in the mornings, so I just have to make the best of it and get as much done as I can! Believe me, I wish I had some magic trick that would make balancing Uni and being a writer easier, sadly I do not. It’s basically just about finding whatever free time you may have and utilising that to the best of your ability and trying not to stress out when you don’t have enough time to do as much as you want to (which is easier said than done, I know).

If you are a student writer, how do you balance Uni with writing? I could use any tips that you guys have! Do you find you can work better at certain times than others? What’s the longest you’ve ever gone without touching your WIP? Let me know in the comments!

I’m going to have my final Quarterly Rewind of 2018 for you guys up tomorrow, so stay tuned for that and the end of the year doesn’t mean the slowing down of content here, oh no, quite the opposite, in the next two weeks leading up to 2019, I’ll have my last Top Ten Tuesday of 2018, my End of Year Survey and a final Jo Talks post for 2018, so there’s plenty to look forward to before 2018 is over!



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