The first week of school is over, and I’m always surprised about the weight that has lifted from me once I meet all my new students for the semester. It’s a good type of stress, really, but stress nevertheless, and I’m always relieved to get that first week under my belt.
Now, comes the hard part. A question that is always discussed on blogs and in columns is how to find the time to write. I admit that I don’t have kids, but I still have a heavy teaching load at a community college, so my full-time job does take a lot of time and energy. This is not a complaint: I love my job and feel very lucky. Still, during the school year, I have to make time to write in a busy schedule and that is not always easy. This semester is going to be especially challenging, because I have a mixed schedule — I’m teaching morning, afternoon, and evening classes and thus my free time is a bit different every day. I used to write early in the mornings, but on some days, I won’t be able to do that. However, this semester, I’m not teaching on Fridays, so I will have my Friday mornings free — which is the first time in all my years of college teaching including my years as an adjunct.
Looking at my schedule, I don’t believe having a set time each day is going to work for me. Instead, I’ve been thinking a lot about my Newswriting and Editing course and its syllabus. In my life before a college professor (sometime in there between retail and factory work), I was a reporter for a small town newspaper. As a reporter, I didn’t live by finding time to write — writing was my job. Instead, I lived by deadlines.
I’m thinking that may be the way I should approach my writing life in the next few months. Many submission periods and contests have deadlines, and making those deadlines should be a goal for me. Better yet, in my notebook, I plan on setting five writing goals (attainable goals — sometimes I have very lofty goals and then I get upset with myself when I don’t complete them) for each month, and working towards those goals or “making the deadline” a phrase I’m going to use in my Newswriting and Editing course.
So, what is my first deadline? Proofread a set of galleys and email an editor about a wayward review. Sounds easy enough, right?