Writing Vs. Work Vs. Hobbies Vs...
As I've stated before, I'm an accountant. I work full-time at a local private airport from 9-6 (with an hour off for lunch) and study for my CPA exams in the evening. I also need at least seven hours of sleep a night and am an active participant in a local theater group and three DND campaigns.
All in all, on an average day I put in roughly 20 hours of work/sleep/taking care of pets/doing chores a day before I can even think about writing. Four hours sounds like a lot, but writing is work too. At some point in there I need time for my hobbies. Video games need to be played, movies need to be watched, and books need to be read or Erin is going to lose her mind from stress.
With all this in mind, I try to take advantage of what time I have to write. I've set a small writing goal of 200 words a day. When I'm being honest I don't include my facebook, blog, or twitter posts in there. It's not much, but a page a day adds up faster than you'd think. I can do it before I go to bed, when my tired mind has given up worrying about the days problems.
Of course, writing isn't all I do. I also need time to edit and beta read. That gets tacked onto my writing time as essential, but still not writing. It does help me grow as a writer, both by allowing me to recognize my flaws and to see my progress from a novice who can't place a comma to someone who might know where that comma actually goes.
Looking at my schedule, you might forgive me for thinking that I don't have time to write and most days I really don't. Sleep and eating and socializing and de-stressing are essential to personal health and shouldn't be pushed aside for what amounts to something slightly more than a hobby for me.
I try to bring my writing with me. My tablet travels to DND and I write while the DM is busy with other players. I send snippets written at work to myself to be added to the main file later. My roommate and I have semi-frequent writing parties where all we do is write. It's not perfect and certainly not the all day writing binges I went on in college, but it's progress.
I write my 200 words a day and more if I can manage it and I content myself with that. Days I can manage more 1000, 2000, or even 5000 if it's a spectacular day are amazing but not something I tie myself to. It's not worth guilting myself over taking care of myself when I choose to play with my dog or go to game night instead of struggling over a blocked scene for weeks on end. In some cases, it even helps because I can come back after a day or two with a fresh mind.
It's like my projects at work that my brain refuses to focus on after staring at a spreadsheet for six hours. The solution isn't going suddenly reveal itself if I stare unblinking at the screen for another hour. I need a break, to allow my mind to refresh itself or I'm not going to get anything done. The answer to the scene that's tripping me up might reveal itself during a DND session or while I'm refocusing from balancing our checking accounts. The plot hole that's been nagging me could be bridged while I'm walking my dog or brushing my cat.
Honestly, taking time to yourself while still trying to write everyday is important. And if you miss a day or even two or three, it's not the end of the world. It's never too late to pick up your pen or sit down and your computer and get started again.