Like many writers, I have a day job. That means that I have to be flexible and creative when it comes to balancing all of my obligations. It isn't always easy. It's worth the effort though, because I couldn't imagine giving up my writing.
There are some practical things, though, that writers with day jobs need to consider. After all, there are only so many hours in a day. Here are a few things I’ve found that help me balance my two professions. I hope they’ll help you, too.
Think of yourself as a writer.
It sounds deceptively simple, but it makes a big difference. If you think of yourself as a writer,
- you’ll plan writing time and be as serious about it as you are about your paid work;
- you’ll grow as a writer and develop your skills;
- you’ll make vital connections with other writers, editors, agents and publishers.
Whether you’ve had anything published or not, if you write, you’re a writer. So identify yourself that way. It all starts with how you see yourself.
Make the most of the time you have.
On a day-to-day basis, how can a writer with a day job manage both work-related tasks and writing? I’ve found a few ways to make it all easier.
- Guard your writing time. Make it a priority. Even if it’s only for 20 minutes a day, treat it like the valuable professional time it is.
- Harness technological. Voice recorders, Notes apps and other technology can help you keep track of those good ideas without wasting time. Writing software can help you to be more efficient, so make use of it.
- Streamline when you can. It can be hard to say, no, but you can’t do everything. Go for simple meals, easy care clothes and trimmed down celebrations. You’ll be less stressed and you’ll be able to focus better on your writing.
The more you value your writing time, the better you’ll use it.
Be satisfied with small, achievable goals.
Remember: you have two full-time jobs. You’re a writer and you have another profession. You can’t realistically finish that novel as quickly as you might like. But you can meet smaller goals and get it all done. Here are a few ideas to help you:
- Set daily goals for yourself. Even if it’s something simple (e.g. Today I’ll name my characters), make it a goal and achieve it. Those goals add up, and they help you focus your writing time.
- Reward yourself when you meet major goals like finishing chapters or sending off your manuscript. You’ve accomplished something. Be proud of it.
- Be flexible. Goals change and your schedule may change. So set and work for goals that can be adapted if needed.
There you have it: a few things that help me manage my life as a writer and my day job. I hope they’ll be helpful to you!
Thanks very much for hosting me!
Margot Kinberg is a mystery novelist who writes the Joel Williams series. She is also the editor of In a Word: Murder, an anthology of short crime stories. She has also written several non-fiction books and articles. Margot is also an Associate Professor, who’s been working in higher education since 1988. You can connect with Margot at her blog Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, where you can read her daily posts on crime fiction and find out more about the Joel Williams series. Margot’s also on Twitter, on Google+ and on Facebook. Margot’s short stories are available on Wattpad.
Our thanks to Margot for some useful and very “timely”information for writers trying to juggle life, work, and passion.
READERS: We hope you enjoyed this week's edition of our #WW Writer Wednesday Series and that we'll see you again next week when LindaS. Browning shares a favorite book from childhood and how it influenced her writing.
Until then: "Butt in chair, WRITE!
~ The Black Cat