Anne Rice wrote Interview with a Vampire while working a full-time job.
T.S. Elliot worked at a bank when he wrote The Waste Land.
Bram Stoker published nine books while working as a theater manager.
Today I’m counting down five tips, in order of how important I think they are, for writing while you have a full-time life.
Although the times have changed, the need to bring home the bacon has not. Those of us with creative passions are often required to work day-jobs to fund our lifestyles (because our first drafts most certainly do not pay the bills).
There are also those that equally enjoy their day job and writing, and may never leave their full-time jobs.
Still there are others who have a full-time life, who are stay-at-home moms or dads, take care of an elderly loved-one, or volunteer daily for a nonprofit.
This is difficult to juggle while trying to write a novel!
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For those that don’t know, I work full-time, at least 40 hours a week. Since I started taking my writing seriously, I’ve struggled with finding the time to write.
These tips are realistic tips. They’re not “MAKE TIME TO WRITE,” although that’s obviously important. I tried to break it down to help you guys in your daily lives. These tweaks will be realistic for almost any writer.
These are also epiphanies I’ve had in recent years that I hope serve you well on your own writing journey.
First up on the countdown:
And I’m not even talking about lists for your writing.
How could this possibly affect how much writing time you have? Here’s a scenario that I’ve played out more times than I care to admit.
Say you need to go to the grocery store after work. You really need milk, toilet paper (because there’s not one square in the entire house), and dinner fixins. It’s only 3 things so you can remember that!
You do all your shopping, braving the after-work traffic and crowds and finally get home.
Only when you open your bathroom door do you realize you forgot the toilet paper.
Now, you don’t want to make your loved one pick it up on the way home, or maybe they’re already home. So since you didn’t make a list, now you have to take the time to drive back to the grocery store (or CVS because you’d rather pay for the inconvenience at this point), wade through a bunch of people, stand in line because there’s only two registers open, and drive all the way back home. If all of that took 30 minutes, and it probably took longer, that’s 30 minutes of writing time wasted.
Don’t rely on your memory for ANYTHING. It can’t be trusted when your writing time is at stake. Make to-do lists, and grocery lists and mark calendar events in a joint location (so your husband or wife knows when soccer practice is).
Organize your life so you don’t waste a second of your precious writing time.
On a similar note, once you have everything written out, you can prioritize what needs to be done first. Make a plan at the beginning of every week so you’re better prepared for life.
Because life tries to get in the way of writing time. All. The Time.
Are your parents coming to visit on the weekend? Then you know you’ll have to pick up the house throughout the week.
Do you also have an editing deadline next week? Instead of cleaning for two days straight and then editing for four solid hours after work on Wednesday and Thursday, space it out. I know I can’t sit in front of my computer for that long without wearing myself out.
Plan for the known events in your life so you can also plan in your writing time while being the most productive.
In this example, keep your creative energy up by writing for two hours each day, and cleaning during your breaks or after you’re finished.
Chris Fox, whose channel I will link down below, talks about your “creative well” and how it’s important to both fill it back up, and not totally deplete it.
Be realistic about what you can do and plan accordingly. Don’t deplete your creative well!
I’ve mentioned this tip before, but it’s so important. Anytime you find yourself waiting in line or driving or walking from the parking lot to your office building, let your mind wander to the scene you plan to write that day.
I’m an outliner, and even though I know what I’m going to write, I still let my mind wander to better visualize the scene. Prepare yourself fo