You may know the feeling. Your day job is over and after you handle all of your personal responsibilities you fire up the laptop. It’s time to write! You yawn, you wonder, can I do this? The fatigue sets in and you shutdown the computer or worse get on Twitter and Facebook. Writing will have to come another day.
Juggling a day job and writing is hard, but it’s a struggle that most authors face. Whether your day job is in the home or outside of it, there is never enough time for writing. How can you find the time?
My advice is simple. Make it work for you. When I first started writing, I was looking to all of my writer friends for how they fit writing into their schedules. I soon realized that if I tried to do it their way I was going to fail big time. So I’m not here to tell you to do it my way. But by sharing my approach maybe you’ll be motivated to come up with your own unique way to make it work.
So here’s the deal about me. I work a lot of hours. Sometimes my day job is literally all consuming. As a lawyer, I find that it is not practical for me to have a goal of writing every day. I tried it last year during NaNo and while I made it work then, I didn’t find it to be sustainable. I knew given my work schedule that it wasn’t going to be a feasible long-term solution. What do I do instead? Make every second of the day count every single day.
I wake up early. And when I say early, it is a brutal 4:30 a.m. Because before I can even think about writing I have to go to the gym. That’s a basic non-negotiable for me. But I started thinking what is negotiable? What am I willing give up or readjust for writing. What is negotiable in your life that you’re willing to give up or modify for writing time?
First, the weekends. For weekends that I’m not busy doing lawyer work, I literally do writing work all weekend. And while I don’t get up at 4:30, I do get up by six. I work all day with small breaks to eat, take the dogs on walks, and go to the gym. Then I usually stop at eight p.m. to hopefully spend time with my husband.
For this approach to work for you, you need to be what I describe as a block worker. You can work for long stretches of time without losing your mojo. I prefer being a block worker. My creative energy is usually highest when I work for big chunks of time. But I know that this would drive some of you crazy and be unworkable. For me, it’s a way for make up a lot of time that I’ve missed during the work week. It also only works if your family and personal demands allow it. Even if you can’t do weekend marathons, you can probably wake up earlier or go to bed later to fit in more writing time on the weekends. If weekends are one of your non-negotiables because of personal demands, maybe you can fit some block work during the week.
Second, TV. I used to watch a lot of TV. I found this to be one place where I cut way back. Now I prioritize. I leave TV watching until I get too tired at night to be productive or a little weekend splurge on Sunday evening.
In addition to negotiables is what I call the naughty list. Things that invade your writing time or inhibit you (and me) from reaching our goals.
The first thing that can hamper your writing schedule is downtime. I’m not saying never relax. But you know those times where you really can’t account for what you’re doing, but you know you’re not productive? Never have a bored moment. Always be thinking, plotting, imagining–even if you can’t physically write. Sometimes in the office I have dead time, and I used to play around on the net or talk to coworkers. Now I try my hardest not to waste that time.
Which brings me to the advice we all know and hate. And this is one I’m still working on every single day. STAY OFF Twitter and Facebook! They are so fun and addictive, but they really are a distraction that can take up a ton of time. Place constraints on yourself. I know a lot of people use programs to limit their internet usage. I am trying to build up to that myself. This is an area I need massive improvement in, but I’m still working on it.
Self-doubt! You stare at the blank screen. You question yourself. You wonder if your story is awful. Self-doubt not only isn’t good for us emotionally, but it’s a literal time suck. Stop doubting and start writing.
Excuses. We all have them. Mine usually is that I’m too tired. Which is why to make it work I have to write earlier in the day. Figure out what your excuses are and tackle them head on.
The bottom line is that everyone has to make it work. We all make it work differently depending on our families, jobs, and life demands. I truly do believe that some of the times I’m the absolute most productive with my writing is when I’m the busiest in all the other areas of my life. There’s a sense of drive, a sense of urgency that occurs, and that is when the magic can happen. So don’t be discouraged by a busy schedule. Don’t get frustrated if you can’t write everyday. Don’t get down on yourself if you need to step away.
My last piece of advice is to set goals. I’m not talking about unrealistic New Year’s resolution type of goals. But those type of goals that are concrete and you can meet. I’ve found that when I set these goals, I’m more determined to meet them. Maybe it’s the competitive side of me that doesn’t want to give up on what I’ve set for myself. But regardless I think it works. And there’s a feeling of accomplishment when you meet those goals. Even if they’re small, they build on each other. And before you know it, you’ll be typing The End. And moving onto the next!
How do you make it work?
Rachel Kall writes romantic suspense. She enjoys writing spicy and suspenseful stories to keep readers guessing. Rachel also loves to read every day while doing cardio. Her favorite genres are romantic suspense and contemporary romance, but she’s always open to an amazing story in any genre. Rachel is a member of Romance Writers of America, KOD, and Georgia Romance Writers. She loves animals and is active in animal rescue. She enjoys adding loveable pets to her stories. She lives in Georgia with her husband and five furkids—two dogs and three cats.
When fiercely independent Vivian Reese is thrust onto the national stage during a heated presidential campaign, she doesn’t expect to become a media darling. She also doesn’t expect to start to fall for her sexy new bodyguard, Marcus Locke. But when threats start surfacing against the sitting President’s campaign and all evidence points to Vivian, she doesn’t know who to trust.
Delta Force Operator turned FBI agent Marcus Locke is supposed to be investigating campaign finance crimes. He’s not supposed to be checking out the sexy, eloquent campaign spokeswoman Vivian Reese, who’s one of his prime suspects! But when they are caught in the middle of a presidential race that is quickly turning deadly, he is forced to put both his heart and his job in the line of fire.
Tempers flare and passions ignite as the campaign gets dangerous, but when bullets start to fly will either of them survive?