Writing Advice: Writing with a Job


Let’s face it, folks. For most of us, our writing does not support us fully. In order to live actual lives full of food and, you know, shelter, we need to work full-time jobs. And those jobs can sometimes sap our creative energy, making it difficult to get writing done once we’re back at home. Last year I had a job that required me to commute for an hour each morning and evening on the train. That commute was a godsend for my writing because I could easily bring my laptop along and get some ideas down and even bang out a few thousand words or so.

But last fall, I got a new job that requires me to commute via car, so no more typing on my way to work. For the first couple of months, I didn’t do any writing at all. At the start of 2013, I made a resolution to get into a better writing routine. I can’t say that it’s been perfected just yet, but I am doing more writing than I was before and I’m doing it after working eight hours at my ‘real’ job.

Last month, a blogger on Writer Unboxed wrote an article about this very topic, offering tips for writing and working full time. The crux of her argument seems to be scheduling and enthusiasm. She cites several authors whose best advice is to get up early and write before you get to the office. This can be a good way of fitting your writing into a busy day because it means you’re being creative even before you’ve gotten to work. In the morning, the daily grind hasn’t had a chance to push down your creative thoughts and make you too tired to write. Her other piece of advice is to psyche yourself up about your project so that you’re always ready to work on it.

Several months ago, I also wrote a blog post about writing when you have  a day job over at Persephone Magazine. Basically, I advise that you use any work hours that you possibly can to your advantage for writing later. During menial tasks, let your mind wander to your latest project and jot down notes if you can. When interacting with people, keep in mind interesting characteristics for when you need to flesh out the characters in your story. As general rules, the best ways to get writing done is to use your evenings and weekends well. Instead of marathoning an entire season of Parks and Recreation, for instance, do some work on that story you’re writing. And budget some time in between errands or time with family and friends on the weekends to write.

Overall, this comes down to time management and how willing you are to write. If it’s important to you, then you will make time for it. Best of luck and keep writing!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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