Challenges (and Solutions) for a Writer in College
You will not have a lot of time to write. This has likely been the case the entirety of your writing career. Try to schedule in writing time. Write when you can, even if its only for a short time. Accept that you will not hammer out a manuscript in the short amount of time you initially wanted to. Try anyway.
You might not have a desire to write after finishing your third paper that week. And that’s okay. The key is to try to write both when you are motivated and when you aren’t but not to be too hard on yourself if you don’t. Word count goals or stickers can help, too.
You will not have a lot of time to read. After being at school for over a month, I’ve only read about four chapters of books that weren’t assigned (when I used to read a book almost every day). You can read more by using it as a study break or setting aside time to read before bed. Or just look forward to reading a lot during breaks and during the summer.
You will get sick. A lot. Unfortunately, being packed into lecture halls and classrooms with lots of people is a great way to catch a number of wonderful illnesses. You can use the time you’re confined to your dorm to catch up on writing. If you’re too sick for that, you can continue building your author platform on social media, watch movies to analyze plot, catch up on reading, or plan out the next part of your book. (Also check out my post: How to be a Writer When You’re Too Sick to Write.)
You might be removed from your writing community. Especially if you’re going to college out-of-state or out-of-country, you aren’t going to interact with your writing friends or mentors as much. Just because you’re physically separated, though, doesn’t mean you can’t still reach out to them. Try to schedule skype/facetime/phone meetings regularly.
Your room is no longer a quiet sanctuary where you can crank out manuscripts without distractions. Even if you are in a single dorm room, you’re likely to hear sounds from the hall and other floors which include, but are not limited to, music, talking, bouncing balls from the room above (which, from personal experience, I can say is extremely annoying, especially after thirty straight minutes), and doors slamming. Find a space that’s quiet to work, invest in noise-cancelling headphones, or play music or white noise while you write.
Your schedule will not be the same as it was. This means you might have trouble fitting in all the writing-related activities you used to do. The key is to realize that you have time, especially by prioritizing and taking advantage of time you normally wouldn’t be doing anything (like when you go on Twitter for the tenth time that day or have ten minutes before your next class).
You’re in college. Almost all aspects of your life are different than they were. Remember that you will always be a writer, but won’t always be in college. In other words, writing is an important part of who you are, but not all of who you are. You can always write later, but you won’t be able to have the same experiences later.
As much as you want them to, most of your classes are not about writing. Or at least not creative writing. Let your classes inspire your writing and provide inspiration. For example, you can use myths from a classics course as an outline for your plot, scientific concepts to create a new idea for science fiction, or names from a history textbook as character names. Also, apply what you learn from essay writing into your novel writing (especially in regards to grammar).
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