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BWW Blog: How To Be a Writer in College

BWW Blog: How To Be a Writer in College

College, at times, is exhausting.

From running between club meetings and social events, to studying in the depths of a musty library, to staring down a mountain of required reading, it seems like there's hardly any time to breathe, recuperate, and reset during campus's breakneck speed of life. As I watch my color-coded Google Calendar fill up with events for the week, a sense of dread builds in my stomach. Every Sunday, the question haunts me:

When am I going to find time to write?

It's all too easy to push writing off to next Saturday, which, at the moment, is completely clear. But throughout the week, the whitespace on G-Cal will begin to disappear below multi-colored events, and before I know it, Saturday time will slip out of my hands. I seem to always be chasing time to write, but like a mirage, the closer I get, the more "free time" dissipates in front of my eyes. What I need, I'd think to myself, is a writing retreat: days on end where the only thing I need to do is write.

As a college student, that's never going to be possible. But even if it was, would it be as productive as I envision? Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), used to think that months of uninterrupted writing time was the only thing that was stopping him from achieving his dreams as a writer. But when writing was the only thing on his to-do list, he did everything possible to avoid it: errands, laundry, cleaning the bathroom, etc. Then he came to the realization that would change his life (and the 60,951 NaNoWriMo writers):

"A rough draft is best written in the steam cooker of an already busy life. If you have a million things to do, adding item #1,000,001 is not such a big deal." - Chris Baty, No Plot, No Problem

Putting writing on my ever-growing to-do list forces me to make time for it. I would be unstoppable if only I treated writing sessions like rehearsals, or mandatory priorities. And if I can make time for a paper a week, 7am laundry runs, and five hundred pages of reading, I'm sure I can crack open my laptop, open Final Draft, and listen to what my characters have to say for just a few hours.

My friend suggested we team up to achieve our respective goals: a novel for her, a full-length play for me. As I write this blog post now, I'm sitting at Starbucks across from her. Both of us are free of the guilt of I should be studying, because we built this time into our schedules: every Sunday on my G-Cal, there is a purple event from 12-2pm titled Writing Sesh. We keep each other accountable: this time is meant for creative projects only. And at the end of every writing session I close my laptop, proud of producing scenes that did not exist 2 hours ago.

My goal is to write at least half an hour every day, with a two hour writing session on each day of the weekend. While I'm not at that stage yet, I'm happy with where I'm at now-spending Sundays with a cup of coffee, my dear friend, my laptop, my characters, and a clear, guilt-free schedule. Put writing on your to-do list, treat it like a can't-miss rehearsal, and write with a friend. And though it seems like it'll make your college life busier, I think you'll emerge more productive yet less exhausted, rather refreshed by the joy of saying hi to beloved characters and watching their adventures unfold.

PS - Stay tuned for my next blog piece, about starting the rehearsal process as an actress in a one-act play festival at Yale!

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