Balancing a Writing Career with a Full-time Job

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I’m not alone in this. Many of my close writer friends, except the few lucky “I have someone else bringing home the bacon” ones (you know who you are and I silently curse you J), struggle with this balancing act of full-time work and writing a novel. Every single day, those us who are balancing this tightrope have this conversation with ourselves. It goes something like this:

Me: “I’m so freaking exhausted. I just want to sit, eat an entire bowl of pasta, and watch two straight hours of The Voice.”

My writer muse: “Girl, don’t even go there. You know the skinny blonde country singer will win anyway. Why bother watching? And that carb loaded dish will go straight to your butt.”

Me: “But Usher is smokin’ hot. I need a muse to inspire my story. And this pasta’s a fake. It’s made out of corn and is wheat and gluten-free…it barely registers as food.”

My writer muse: “Why would it? That’s the crap they feed horses.”

Me: “And look at how sexy and lean they are.”

So maybe not everyone’s conversation goes exactly like this.  But for me, it’s pretty typical.

unexpectedly_youSometimes I win, sometime she does. My goal is to win more often than not. It’s a game I play and what helps a lot is that I figured out early on that I need tangible rewards. This is exactly what happened when I received the lovely cover to my upcoming release, Unexpectedly You, out August 26th.  I immediately had it poster-sized, framed and then hung on my office wall. It’s a visceral reminder that I did it! I can do it again! It’s not impossible.

With this renewed oomph, I can happily hammer away at my business analyst job for eight hours before hopping the bus for my forty-five minute commute home. Once home, I can turn off the left brain activities and turn on the creative right brain, hoping it had survived another day of blistering boredom at the damn day job. Oh, the glamorous life of an author. Who needs Usher?  Okay, maybe I do, but don’t tell her that.

What are some of your coping mechanisms for balancing your writing life with your full-time job? Share your magic.


Comments

Balancing a Writing Career with a Full-time Job — 6 Comments

  1. Amen to this, Lily! One of my biggest daily struggles is squeezing writing into what little time is left after full-time employment, going to the gym, seeing friends, oh, and what about that guy I’m supposed to be marrying in a couple months?

    Personally I try to be as efficient as possible with what few windows I have (ie the hour when I’m home alone before my fiance arrives, or on the nights he’s out and I’m in) and speed through as many words as I can. Of course this is easier said than done, and sometimes I find myself finally exiting the YouTube/Facebook/Twitter mind spiral to manage only a sentence or two before time’s up. I also try to use mental down times – like waiting in line, running, boring meetings – to imagine plots and scenes. Even if it’s a while before I can capture them in words, it’s helpful to get them worked out in my head.

    But to be honest? I don’t have the answer, and I really hope someone else does. I’ve recently moved cities and traded a 45-minute public transportation commute for 25 minutes of driving and I already have absurdly high hopes for those extra 20 minutes of my life!

  2. I’m always in awe of writers who work a full-time day job and still manage to write book after book. I’ve been lucky enough to work part-time for many years, but I’ll still use the ‘I’m too busy, too tired, too whatever’ excuse for not keeping my butt in my chair and my hands on the keyboard. I think your decision to give yourself tangible rewards is a very good one. As a writer of ebooks, I don’t have a finished book I can hold in my hands, but seeing a poster of the cover art on my wall might give me the boost I need. Congrats on the upcoming new release!

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