Balancing Grad School & Writing a Novel

School is starting up tomorrow and so returns the juggling act of balancing being a doctoral student and an aspiring novelist.


Being in a graduate program tends to be one of those all-consuming commitments.  Therefore time management becomes a necessary survival skill.

What it comes down to for me is sleep.  How much sleep am I willing to lose to write?  The answer for me is as much as it takes.  When inspiration hits, I make sure I carve out the necessary time to get it down.

Around finals this does get nearly impossible.  The best I can usually do is to quickly outline the idea, but then I have to let it sit until my finals are over.  The ironic part of all of this is that the busier I am, the more I find myself thinking of things that I want to write.  This is why for me it all boils down to sleep.

And so begins the circle of procrastination/sacrifice.  To accomplish grad school work, I must sacrifice working on my novel.  To work on my novel I must sacrifice working on grad school research.

I break it down like this:

Working on my novel is awesome because:

1.  It is fairly productive as far as procrastination goes

2.  It is a great stress reliever

3.  I could get published someday!

4.  The more I write, the better I’ll get

5.  At least I’m not stuffing my face with more cupcakes


6.  Lastly, and most importantly, I love it

Working on my novel is challenging because:

1.  It is productive, but not towards the actual research deadlines I have looming

2.  8 hours of writing later I feel great, then repeatedly hit the oh s**t button as I realize I’ve lost another day of research

3.  I’ll never get published in creative or academic writing if I don’t get it done!  (A.K.A. there aren’t enough hours in the day, so I stay up late…  I’m a total night owl)


4.  The more I write creatively, the more difficult it is to master the succinct academic voice I need to write in for school

5.  Though I’m not eating cupcakes I’m probably ordering/making sushi, which is delicious, but makes my wallet hate me

6.  I also love grad school like the nerd that I am.


Gahh the evil circle continues!!!  But like I said, I love both, so I make time for both.  (And then occasionally walk around like a zombie as a result… except instead of brains I eat cupcakes AND sushi… not at the same time though, that would be gross… unless the sushi was made out of icing…)

How do you balance your busy life?





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