Knowing your limits

University already feels like a distant memory but it was less than two months ago that I handed in my final piece of coursework. Since then I feel like a thousand things have happened to me and compared to the three manic years of studying I don’t feel like I’ve achieved very much. And I think I’ve figured out why.

Now I am the first to admit that university (in terms of actual contact time with lecturers) was not particularly taxing. In my final year I had a measly nine hours of contact time a week which was over with by 5pm on a Tuesday. Now that might sound magical and wonderful to you – two days of uni and five days a week dossing around not doing very much. But I have come to realise I filled those five days with a massive amount of stuff. If I wasn’t in the library writing my dissertation (which was a lot of the time) I was writing my novel, or writing posts for various websites, or helping out people with shows, or doing some online courses ‘just for fun’.

I work full time now. Five days a week in a job that is neither creative nor particularly inspiring. I come home, cook dinner for me and the Bearded One, perhaps read a chapter or two and then head up to bed. I am feeling the struggle of fitting in being creative with work and socialising – because I’ve realised that is important too. It now takes more than walking downstairs and knocking on my housemates door to see people.

None of these things are bad. Please don’t think I’m complaining. But it’s hard for me to deal with the fact I can’t get up, sit at my desk and just write for a whole day. I mean, I can do that, but that’s one of my two days off completely gone there. Which rules out the cleaning/shopping/hiking etc I might have been doing. I find myself having to write a timetable for my days off so I can fit in everything I want to do.

I’m not there yet. I finish my days wishing I had read more, or written more, or sent this or that email. I’m learning that it’s going to take time to adjust to this new ‘graduate’ lifestyle in which I have a thousand commitments and not all of them to myself. Even writing blog posts is proving tricky. But I remind myself it has only been a month I’ve been in this routine and it will develop. Wont’t it?

Have you got any tips on how to structure a writing life around a ‘normal’ life? How do you fit everything into your day?

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