How Can I Make Time for Personal Writing Projects?

So, you think you want to write for fun, huh?

Plenty of freelancers spend their days pitching clients and writing business copy, even though their true passions lie elsewhere.

How Can I Make Time for Personal Writing Projects?

Juggling personal projects with your client work can be tricky for freelancers.

Working independently provides more flexibility than the average 9-5 job, but freelancing isn’t a magic solution for the budding writer hoping to dedicate long hours to side projects.

Whether you hope to write the next great American novel, craft a DIY empire to rival Martha Stewart’s, or simply contribute op ed pieces to your local newspaper, juggling personal projects with an extensive client workload can be tricky.

Even more challenging, personal writing projects rarely pay the bills.

You may dream of raking in millions as the next John Grisham, but you can’t pay your mortgage with IOUs. Fortunately, you don’t need to take an all or nothing approach.

Instead, use the following simple tools to build a game plan for tackling your personal writing endeavors during your downtime.

Structure Your Workday in Advance

Successful entrepreneurs don’t need the constraints of a traditional office environment to stay productive, but don’t be tempted to take a free-for-all approach to your workday. Instead, strive to clearly outline your day before it begins.

Some writers find success using tools like the Pomodoro system, while others need to block social networking sites for hours at a time. Find what works for you by carefully reviewing your goals and deadlines at the beginning of your day, and schedule time to complete that work as your day progresses.

Commit to Making Sacrifices

After taking a close look at your work obligations and building a detailed agenda for your working day, you’ll be better able to pinpoint pockets of time you can use to pursue your side hustle.

You may also find your day offers very little leeway, in which case you’ll need to get rid of distractions that gobble up your time.

How Can I Make Time For Personal Writing Projects?

If you’re honest with yourself, you’re likely wasting time every day doing little things like binging on Netflix, chatting on the phone, or browsing Facebook. Assuming you’re serious about making your personal projects a priority, carve out time for these endeavors by sacrificing the diversions that keep you from staying productive.

Still feeling stuck? Choose to wake up an hour earlier in the morning to get a head start on your chores. Devote Saturday afternoons to writing.

Add just 30 minutes to your workday Monday through Thursday, and use the 2 hours gained for personal writing on Friday.

If something really matters to you, you’ll make the time to get it done.

Reward Yourself with Writing Time

Many freelancers find their side projects to be more interesting than their client workload, in which case, giving yourself the freedom to focus on your writing hobbies can be a great gift.

If you’re struggling to find the motivation to keep your professional tasks on track, why not reward yourself with writing time?

In order for this technique to work, you’ll need to remain self-disciplined. Start your day by setting a goal, such as writing three client blogs or pitching two new publications. Once you’ve accomplished that goal, you can give yourself 30 minutes to spend writing your blog or sketching out characters for your book.

This strategy can provide multiple benefits.

Firstly, it keeps you pushing hard to complete your existing assignments, improving your efficiency and eliminating procrastination. Research has suggested that rewards are often closely linked to motivation levels, and using personal writing time to propel yourself forward is a great way to trick yourself into productivity.

As an added bonus, focusing on personal projects for a while can rejuvenate your spirits and leave you better equipped to finish your workday on a high note.

Monetize Your Side Projects

Creating extra space in your day for pursuing your passion is all good and well, but monetizing your personal writing projects is even better. If your side work brings in revenue, you may be able to cut some of your workload in favor of your own endeavors.

There are numerous ways to generate an income from your writing, regardless of your niche or subject matter. Many independent writers use platforms like Patreon to solicit donations from readers on a monthly basis. Using this approach, you might trade the latest chapter of your work for a few dollars of ongoing support.

Monetization is a vast subject that encompasses a number of different tools and techniques. Other popular options include using advertising and affiliate programs on your personal blog, or selling merchandise or products to your online followers.

Keeping your side projects afloat while simultaneously juggling the responsibilities of a freelance career is no simple feat, but it’s also not mission impossible.

By learning to better organize your day and working to identify additional sources of income, you should be able to work out how to make time for the projects you enjoy most.

Do you have any advice for making time for your pet projects without neglecting your career?

Adam Zetterlund is a marketing strategist and freelance writer living in New York City. He has partnered with a number of high profile brands, and routinely helps international clients working to enter the American market. He writes Writing from A to Z to help other freelancers build their careers.

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This is a great topic! It’s something that seasoned writers and newbies can relate to equally. One thing that works for me is that I put a to-do list together for each day of the upcoming week. My client work is first on the list for each day, but once I’m done with that, I’ll move onto my side projects.Reply to Alicia
You’re right on the money, Alicia—making a list of your tasks and prioritizing as necessary is a brilliant way to get it all done. I’m not personally disciplined enough to make the to-do list work for me, so I use a project management platform that allows me to assign deadlines to the various items on my list. It’s helpful for me, because I also keep invoicing reminders, various notes, and editorial input in the same system, and it automatically refreshes for me each day based on what is most pressing. I am in awe of those who can make it all happen on paper! 🙂Reply to Adam
I’m glad someone covered this topic. Side projects, in my opinion are super important for freelancers. I find that if I run out of steam on a project freewriting is a great way to make my focus come back. Often when things get slow for a bit side projects are a great way to past the time. Sometimes I’ve even ended up with paid opportunities from work that started as a side project.Reply to Rosemary
Rosemary, that’s a fantastic point—side projects are a great diversion should things go a bit quiet on the client front! I know those lulls can feel demoralizing, but working on something I’m passionate about always cheers me back up. 🙂Reply to Adam
Great point, Elna—weekends are a fantastic time to play catch up and dedicate some time to those passion projects. I also try to remind myself that nobody promised freelancing would be a 40-hour/week job. 🙂 If making time for my own projects means pulling 10 hour days, such is life.Reply to Adam
Adam, For me I recently started many personal projects and am finding it difficult to balance that with my client obligations. But, I’m finding using the weekends for personal projects the best for me at the moment. I can focus on my sales page, coaching reports, designing my sites etc.. on the weekend and still have time to wrap up any client work! I think it’s important as writers to have that dedicated time for personal projects!Reply to Elna