How to Make Writing a Priority in College

Hannah L. Desrosiers Nonfiction and Multimedia Panel and Web Designer

It was hard enough finding time to do the things I loved in high school, when I was in school from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., then back from 4 to 6 p.m. for cheerleading practices, five days a week. Somehow, though, in between AP homework and memorizing new cheer routines, I found time to write fantastical stories, devotionals for my church, and personal essays. I have so much more free time now, and yet I find that I never devote it to writing anything. I spend it with friends, or playing video games, or stressing

For a while, this had me questioning if writing was really a passion of mine. If I only write for creative writing classes, is it really something I can make into a true hobby? Is it something I actually would want to make money off of.

First off—if you are in the same boat as me, questioning if writing really is something you enjoy, I’m telling you right now that it is. If you’re taking creative writing courses, you obviously want to write. You wouldn’t sign yourself up for sixty pages a semester if you didn’t.

Second— now that you know you really do love writing, I want to share some tips for getting yourself to write in college (or beyond, because work can take just as much of your creative energy away). These are the steps I’ve been taking to ensure that I write:

1. Download Habitica

Photo courtesy of writer

If you aren’t acquainted with this cute little app, you first create a little avatar. As you complete habits (like stretching daily, exercising, writing, etc), your little character earns coins, gets little pets, and best of all doesn’t die.

 

“If I don’t write today, my virtual self will perish. That’s serious stuff.”

Dying takes a while, don’t worry. You have to not do a lot of tasks in order to actually kill your character, but think of how encouraging this could be. If I don’t write today, my virtual self will perish. That’s serious stuff.

It sounds a bit ridiculous, but this created so many great habits for me, including writing. I set reminders to drink enough water, eat an actual meal each day (Ramen doesn’t count), do my homework—and write.

 

2. Start Small

This should be pretty obvious, but in case it isn’t, I’ll tell you my own method.

If I’m not feeling like adding a few pages to my memoir (yes, twenty year-olds can have those), I write a little poem. It’s almost always a crappy little poem done late at night because I forgot to all day, but it’s a poem nonetheless.

I keep them all in one Google Doc. No one sees them, they just exist to say that I am keeping my writing habit alive. I’m pretty sure some famous poet used to do this, so it’s worked for two people now. Maybe it’ll work for you.

Here’s some proof that small poems can have a big impact. You can also check out the 2019 Long River Review for a short poem that the poetry panel just loved.

3. Be Consistent

Try to get yourself on a schedule. Some people like to devote time once a week, and if that’s really all you can spare, go for it. I suggest once a day, though.

 

Like I said above, it doesn’t have to be polished work. It can be a four line poem about how tired you are. The point is, it’s something. When you have more time, it’ll be easier to tell yourself to type away if you’ve been doing it consistently before that.

 4. Find a Buddy

This one’s hard, but awesome if you can attain it. You can look online for a writing buddy (I’m sure there’s some subreddit or Facebook group you can join to help with this), or just reach out in person (I know, scary).

My writing buddies have kind of just popped up in my life, either at church or at my internship, but looking for people in your classes could help too. Having someone keep you accountable is one of the best ways to write, but make sure it’s someone you are comfortable with.
Some days you aren’t going to have the energy to write something fantastic. They’ll have to understand that every now and then you’re gonna need to just show them a collection of poems about your wallpaper because writer’s block just hit you. Not that I’ve done that . . .

Image and brilliant poem by writer

Writing is so much fun once you get past the “I have to create this amazing piece in two nights at a young age for it to count for anything.” Nope. You can create crap, and it can be just as much fun for you (and less stressful, I might add) than trying your hardest to write a bestseller.

Feel free to comment below if you have any other suggestions about writing around a stressful schedule. I’d love to hear them!


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