One of the questions I’m asked ALOT by Bang2writers is how to balance writing with a day job, so when Kenneth got in touch asking to write about his top tips on this subject, I jumped at the chance! Here’s Kenneth’s thoughts on the matter and look at my links at the end of each section for more. Good luck!
Whether you just love to write for the fun of it, or you want to use it as an additional source of income that will boost your budget, finding the time to actually do so if you are working a full-time job can seem next to impossible.
You’ve tried to look online for some advice on how to pull it off, but that’s probably not helping, because all you’re getting is clichés like “you don’t want it bad enough”, “where there is a will, there is a way”, or tips which tell you to put your writing above everything — even your friends and family! Everything besides your day job, of course.
Forget everything you’ve read so far. You CAN and you WILL do it. Here are 6 effective tips on how to find enough time in a day to enjoy writing:
1) Always Take Your Best Idea and Run with It
If you have several ideas running through your head, you might be tempted to start with one that will take up less of your time, or which will require less research on your part. However, we advise you to always pick out the best one and stick with it. You will only be able to consistently find the time to write about it if you really love it. If you choose something else, pretty soon it will start becoming a burden for you. You will come home, dreading the fact that you have to work and you’ll eventually quit. That’s a shame, because you could have used that time to work on something that you are obsessed with, or you could have spent it with your family and friends.
Tip: If you are really passionate about an idea, always trust your gut feeling and focus on it. It may sound a bit irrational, but writing should be less about logic, and more about creativity. MORE: Help – My Partner Won’t Let Me Write!
2) Break Your Writing up into Smaller Milestones
If you are writing a book, or a novel, the very idea of having to write 150 or 200 pages can seem overwhelming. Since you have your day job, you can’t just lock yourself up in your study, emerge several weeks later and have it done. So, you have to make peace with the fact that you’ll have to chip away at it, one small chunk at a time. Might not seem like much at first, but you will be able to see progress over the course of one month. Everyone can find the time to write 500 or 1000 words a day. Writing at that pace, you can have your book written in 4-5 months. If you are a blogger, that’s one post per day.
Tip: Dividing your work into smaller segments will help you realize that it is possible for you to write, as well as keep your concentration tack-sharp while writing. MORE: Share more tips like this by joining the very lively Bang2writers group on Facebook.
3) Be Consistent
Consistency is important for at least two reasons. First of all, if you write consistently, your progress will be linear, and that’s important because you want to see you’re progressing slowly, but surely. Second of all, if you choose to write every day, or every week, it becomes a habit, and habits, as we know, are hard to break, especially if they are enjoyable. If your plan is to write 500 words each day, do it no matter what. If you prefer to write on Mondays, Fridays, and Wednesday, do it every single time, achieving a milestone you’ve set for yourself. Another possible benefit of this approach is that you’ll learn discipline, which will begin to spill over into other areas of your life.
Tip: While it may seem that routine and creativity never go hand in hand, having some order and discipline in your work will help you write more. MORE: When do I give up my day job?
4) Be Prepared to Capture Your Ideas Anywhere, Anytime
Ideas have an annoying habit of striking at the most inopportune moments, but that doesn’t mean you have to let them slip your mind. Always keep something on you to help you write them down. These days, everybody has a smartphone, or a tablet, which they can access quickly and take a note. If you don’t have any of these, just carry a small notebook and a pen with you, everywhere you go. Even if an idea doesn’t seem to be a particularly good fit for what’s you’re currently writing about, write it down so you can use it for some other project, or keep it on standby until you figure out a way to tie into your current one.
Tip: Regardless of how much time you have to develop your ideas, you should always write them down, because you never know when the situation might change time-wise. Keep track of them just in case it does. MORE: 25 Writing Secrets of Famous Authors
5) Make Use of Smaller Time Intervals
If you have a family, or if you are going to school in addition to working full-time, it might be impossible for you to sit down for an hour or two each day and write those 500 to 1000 words. Be that as it may, the day lasts for 24 hours, and there are plenty of moments in it which can be used for writing. For instance, if you are taking a train or a bus to work, take out you laptop and write on your way there, and on your way back home. Sacrifice a lunch break or two during the week, cut down on the amount of time you spend on social medial, or eliminate some of the daily rituals you no longer find essential.
Tip: Although those small chunks of time don’t seem like much all on their own, they add up to a pretty useful amount. Make sure you tap into it. MORE: 8 Tips for Optimising Your NaNoWriMo Time
6) Stop Being a Perfectionist!
While it’s good to raise the bar high on occasion and be a perfectionist, you can’t apply that same principle here, because you won’t have ideal writing conditions, so you need to be happy with the fact that you can find the time to write at all. Even if you think the stuff you’ve written sucks, stick with it, because you may be able to salvage a portion of it that is useful. Even if you don’t, it’s still ok, because practice makes perfect.
Tip: Avoid falling into a trap of perfectionism. Give yourself a break and do the best you can considering the circumstances. MORE: 7 Ways To Find More Time To Write
You can juggle both your day job, and your love of writing. It all comes down to discipline, dedication, and the willingness to make some small sacrifices along the way. The rest is up to you. We hope you’ve found these tips useful and that you will start applying them today.
BIO: Kenneth Waldman is a freelance writer and content editor at essay writing service EssayMama.com which provides assignment help for students. Kenneth draws his inspiration from travelling and sport. Get in touch with him on Linkedin.
Very helpful article, Kenneth – many thanks. I wrote something in a different vein about giving up the day job (or not) a couple of years ago. It appeared in UK Writer, the WGGB magazine. Here it is:
Day job Page1.pdf
Day job page 2.pdf
Pages not loading. Will try another way.
Hey Stephen, maybe host in your public Dropbox Folder and post the link in the comments section?
Good idea, Lucy. Thanks.
Thank you, Stephen!
Love this post. Two weeks ago I blogged: “I promise to Change my Clothes Everyday” because that was a big change for me coming out of the writing zone!