If you’re like most people juggling work and writing, you spend a good part of your day at the job that pays the bills wishing you were home writing.
When it comes time to take vacation, you probably use the time to write–not actually take a vacation.
It doesn’t have to be that way if you write at least an hour a day…and dedicate the occasional weekend to [mostly] writing.
Here are 12 tips to help ensure your writing weekends are productive:
1. Prepare During the Week
A writing weekend doesn’t begin the moment you clock out on Friday–it begins during the week in small segments.
Decide what your writing goals are for the weekend. Being ambitious is good, but be realistic. If you think you can only get a chapter or a short story done and you’re happy with that, go for it!
Make sure any notes and supplies you need are ready so when the time comes for you to sit down and get busy, everything you need is ready for your busy weekend.
2. Tell Others
If you don’t live alone, be sure to inform roommates, spouses, children, or relatives that you’re going to be in your own little world for the weekend.
That’s not an excuse to totally ignore them, but if it’s not a common thing, you should be able to request a weekend to focus and have that request be respected.
If you let people know your plans in advance (and be sure to take extra time out before the weekend to spend with them), when you’re ready to write, those around you will be more likely to respect your space.
3. Make a Schedule
I’m not talking about writing, “Work on Chapter 2 from 7:18 a.m. – 10:42 a.m.,” but block out time and set goals.
If it’s as loose as, “Morning: New Writing; Afternoon: Editing. Evening; Plotting,” that works!
With a schedule in place, you’re much more likely to actually stick to doing what you tell yourself you’re going to accomplish than if you just charged in with no plan at all.
4. Organize Your Writing Area
Most of us who juggle work, writing, and life share a desk either with others, or with other tasks.
Maybe family uses your area, too–or your desk is also where you pay bills.
Be sure to organize your writing area so all you have to focus on is writing. If it means taking care of bills early or filing some things away, do that during the week so that when the weekend arrives you’re ready to write!
5. Friday Night Off
Consider taking Friday night off from writing.
Yes, you are dedicating a weekend to writing, but…it is a reward for a week or working hard.
Watch a movie with your family. Meet a friend for dinner and drinks. Knock around town and have fun.
Getting it out of your system on Friday will make dedicating time to writing on Saturday and Sunday easier to take, instead of wandering into work on Monday morning feeling like you didn’t get a weekend at all.
(Oh! Getting to bed at a decent time on Friday night–preferably your normal time for bed–doesn’t hurt, either.)
6. Plan Meals
Whether it’s planning places to go out so you don’t have to cook, coming up with a menu full of quick meals, or deciding what you can throw in a Crock Pot that will last you all weekend, planning your meals and shopping before you begin is just as important as planning what you’re going to write and making a schedule.
You don’t want to spend the weekend making several trips to the grocery store because you’re out of food or an ingredient for dinner.
If quick jaunts out for a bite to eat aren’t possible, make sure your meals are planned and that you have everything you need when the writing begins and you can’t afford to be distracted thinking about other things.
7. Do Chores Early
The last thing you want to do is rush around on Sunday evening doing laundry or cleaning house.
Do laundry while watching a movie on Friday night. Don’t let dishes pile up over the weekend; take a moment to clean up after yourself as you make a mess. Spend 10-15 minutes in the mornings before sitting down to write cleaning up.
Taking care of things, here and there, as you work through the weekend will help ensure that you don’t feel defeated when the weekend is over and you end up starting Monday off buried beneath dishes and laundry.
8. Ask For Help
If you live with other people, ask for help. See if they’ll run an errand or two you normally run on the weekend.
Ask them if they can help with cleaning or dinners. If you run out of supplies, don’t be afraid to ask them if they can pick up some paper while they’re out and about, enjoying their weekend.
Obviously, repay the favor and then some by helping them during the week leading up to (and following) your writing weekend. As long as you don’t take advantage of others, you might be surprised how much they’re willing to pitch in so you can have a productive weekend.
9. Don’t Give In
People like doing things on weekends–and they like including people they know in the things they do.
Once your mind is set on writing all weekend, don’t give in if somebody says, “Hey, we’re all going out and you should come along!”
Stick to your writing plans.
Don’t give in.
An easy way to not be tempted by others getting out and doing things over the weekend is disconnecting.
Turn off the phone and don’t check e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter every hour.
Don’t plop down in front of the TV and watch just one episode of that Monk marathon…because you’ll probably keep watching (Besides, there will be another one in a week or two–trust me!)
Disconnect from distractions and focus on writing.
11. Allow Yourself a Few Breaks
You deserve to relax a little; it is the weekend, after all!
Take a nap…Run an errand…Go for a walk…Curl up and read on the couch for an hour.
Your goal is to be productive–not burn yourself out. Be sure to spend at least a little time enjoying each day.
If it feels like you never left work, you’re more likely to give in and not write much at all. If it doesn’t feel like work, you’re more likely to do it again.
12. Say Thanks
Be sure to thank the people around you who gave you time, help, or time and help during your writing weekend.
Take your spouse out on a surprise weekday date; take your kids someplace cool the following weekend and only sit down to write when the people who gave you time are doing their own thing next weekend.
If you show the people around you that you appreciate how much they respect your time on the occasions you ask for time to focus, they will be more likely to give you time when you ask.
Writing is great; it’s definitely something worthy of building a weekend around. But so is spending time with friends and family. Always be sure to show the people in your life how much you appreciate them.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to take my wife a cup of coffee and chat for awhile…