Delia Christ studies molecular biology at the University of Basel. In his free time, he writes fantasy and romance novels. She has already published four books under her pseudonym Delia Muñoz. In her guest article, she explains how she balances writing with everyday student life.
Writing a book takes time. Which students tend to have little of. The course itself involves a lot of work with texts. At the same time, writing a novel sounds exhausting. But with a lot of passion and good time management, I think anyone can create a space to work on their own writing project. So how do I fit writing books into my daily life as a student?
First, I need an opportunity to write. But in my opinion, you never “find” the time to write – you have to make it. My method: I write in intervals. For example, I schedule a 15-minute window after lunch to work on my latest book project. No matter how busy the day is and how many articles still need to be read for the course – 15 or 30 minutes will always fit. Then you only have 15 minutes less on social media.
To make writing intervals effective and not spend the first 10 minutes staring at the title of the manuscript, you need to plan the project. Planning is a little harder to put into time slots because there is a lot going on in the head. Plotting and creating characters cannot be forced and usually happens at unplanned moments. But what can be packed into 15-minute intervals is holding a common thread. So before I start writing, I write down as precisely as possible what should happen in the story.
Not all authors plan their projects in as much detail as I do. However, knowing what the other scenes contain helps me get into the project faster and write during a break between two lectures or after lunch. Although 15 minutes doesn’t sound like much – believe me, you can achieve something in this time! Think about your last presentation and how much you said in 15 minutes.
But writing a book involves much more than just writing. As already mentioned, this includes drawing the plot as well as correcting and reformulating the text. This provides variety in writing books while giving you the opportunity to remain flexible. If I had to submit an essay to study during the day, I can revise my manuscript and improve my writing style in the evening instead of writing. And when I’ve read a lot during the day, I tend to write. In this way, you can easily adapt the writing of books to normal student life.
Achieve your goals with to-do lists
What I find very useful besides interval writing and long-term planning are to-do lists. It doesn’t sound revolutionary at first glance, but they are still useful. My to-do list can be small tasks like “watering the plants” but also more time consuming things like “rewrite chapter 3” or “finish Nate’s side character”. A to-do list helps me clear my head. By writing down “to-dos” I don’t have to constantly remind myself to bathe the orchid and I can focus on the project with confidence. The list also helps me get in the mood faster at the beginning of my writing interval. If I know when I wake up that I will be rewriting Chapter 3 at noon, I can mentally prepare myself and jump right into the project after the lecture. And the best thing about to-do lists: check off items! Each point less is worth an achievement and a small reward. The entire list doesn’t have to be empty right away – that’s what the list was created for. Rather, it should be phased out gradually. This is how you get there.
Finally, I have to admit that I don’t write almost every day. There are months when I write very little and then there are phases where I write several times a week. The most intense phases of writing often occur during semester breaks, because that’s when I have the most time to get through it all. But it’s this informality that I find so beautiful about writing: it’s just a hobby for me. There is no main income associated with it, just a small side income that I probably can’t live off of for more than a few days. For me, writing books is more of a time consuming pleasure than a “job” and I always look forward to being able to be a little creative in the evenings.