Question of the Week: How Do You Balance Your Day Job With Writing?

26 Feb

Hey guys!

Exciting news: We’re going to be posting 5 times a week from now on! We have a ton of great vlogs and interviews lined up, and we look forward to hearing from you more than ever! We also have a new banner!

This week’s QOTW comes from Landon, who asks, “How do you balance your day job with your writing, and how does one affect the other?”

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After 18 months of not working post-college graduation, when I landed my job back in December, it was a bit of a rude awakening. My writing-into-the-night was ruined by the fact that I had to get up early, and the hours I once spent writing during the day had to be pushed back until 5 PM. With my blog, twitter, and other social media platforms to maintain, I found my 5 PM and onward time REALLY full.

I’m usually very disciplined in my writing, but I’ve been forced to become even more firm with myself. When I sit down to write, I know that I’ve got just a few hours before my fiance gets home, we eat dinner, relax, etc. I can maybe squeeze in an extra hour of writing/revising between dinner and bedtime. So this means I REALLY need to write, and not procrastinate. Despite the exhaustion, it’s been a wonderful exercise in discipline and dedication.

The Writer Waiting on Submissions

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I don’t have a job, but I consider being a college student similar to an occupation. Although being a college student isn’t 9 to 5 every day, I do have some days where I wake up at 8 AM and have class until 3 PM. Then, there are other days where I have no classes at all, but I try to use those study. I try to do my homework anywhere from 6 to 10 PM, and usually that includes a few moments of writing.

I manage by having a fantabulous roommate, who thinks its AMAZING I write novels and tells me to stay up late if I’m working. What is also great about my roommate is that she makes sure I get out of the room and live. We’ll go to the movies, we’ll go out to dinner, we’ll walk around the city… She even asked me recently to edit her own novel that she wrote when she was fourteen.

I think that my “job” as a college student really helps my writing. I am more structured. I know that I have a looser schedule than others, but I still try to structure my day as if I really have a job in the real world. I am trying to prepare myself for this summer when I’ll (hopefully) have an internship and have to manage interning and writing or when I am out of college and trying to get a job. I know that in real life, most people do not have the time to write all day, so I am trying to recognize that and make sure I am ready.

The Writer Who Just Finished Her First Novel

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The five novels I have written so far were all completed in high school, or just after. At that time I would go to school, come home and pretty much either nap, surf the internet, or write. Summers were great times for me because I could work for hours on end. I think most of my books were completed during or near summer. After I got out of high school though, everything changed. My entry level jobs had crazy schedules, and by the time I had advanced to a cushy 9-5 job which I love, I had met my now-fiance. All spare time was spent with him, and again I didn’t write. For 2 years I had nothing to show except a few good poems.

Finally after LTWF came into my life I felt like a real writer again, and after a few false starts I’ve finally settled onto a concept I can make a book out of. I’m still trying to figure out my day-to-day; I’m lucky that my day job doesn’t follow me home at night too much anymore, so after dinner I usually hole up in my room and write if I’m inspired, while my fiance works in the kitchen. I definitely don’t get as much writing done as I used to, and that’s something I’m working on. I hope to be perfectly balanced with a routine and everything later this year.

The Writer Also Waiting on Submissions

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I wrote the most during high school – that was what I would consider my most “prolific” time. During my undergrad, I completely stopped writing, although I did write down any ideas or lines that would come to my head. Creatively, I was on hiatus; once I switched out of Visual Arts, my art was put on the backburner, along with my writing.  I had school and 2 part-time jobs; any spare time that I had was devoted to having some sort of social life. It wasn’t until my final year that I picked up writing again, but the little writing I did was very sporadic.

Now, with an internship, more school, and a part-time job, I still have very little time to write. I find that I write the most at night, right before bed. While I don’t write as much as I used to (I would normally write one chapter a week in high school, and now I’ll write only a scene or two per week), at least I write when I can. Balancing my writing and a day job is definitely complicated. But so long as you set aside some time, and find a nice quiet place to work, you’ll be able to move ahead with your manuscript (no matter how slow the crawl is). Writing hasn’t really affected my day job or school, but the “day job” (aka internship/school/PT job) certainly affects my writing. I’m sure once I stop having school and work, I’ll be able to find more time to write. The same could be said for my art, especially painting – once I have more free time on my hands, I’m sure I’ll get back to my art.

The Writer Writing Her First Book

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Place my writing and day job on a balancing scale and my writing will always outweigh the other. At work I daydream, I plot in my head, I observe others so to incorporate their attribute into my story one day–and in my scatterbrain state I drop wine glasses, break them, mess up orders while working at the reception desk, infuriate my manager, piss off co-workers when I get caught for jotting down notes for WIP when I should be looking like a flower as customers enter the restaurant…. Yes. There is little to no balance. But fortunately the people I work with are good at heart. So for the three years that I’ve been working at the restaurant I have never felt the threat of being fired. I guess I’m just a lucky duck.

The Writer Who Got A Full Request

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I don’t have a day job; I’m still in high school. And over school, writing will almost always take precedent. When I feel the inspiration to write but have homework, I’ll either push the work to the side or, if I’m feeling particularly guilty, procrastinate, the whole time imagining how I could be weaving crazy scenes as opposed to be “doing homework”. It’s a vicious cycle of getting nothing done. Of course, if I have some extremely important assignment to do, I’ll do that first, but generally you can find me in the library at lunch time catching up.

The Writer Revising Her First Novel

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So, all you writers out there, how do YOU balance your day job with your writing, and how does one affect the other?

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6 Responses to “Question of the Week: How Do You Balance Your Day Job With Writing?”

  1. A. Barone February 26, 2010 at 11:03 AM #

    Managing the balancing act is hard. Really hard. Funny enough, I had an easier time of it in university. I would write in between classes, or during classes when I felt really bored and I got a great deal of writing done. And I had a job then too and I still managed to write a great deal.

    Now, I’m in teacher’s college, with no ‘day job’ per say and I find that finding time to write is hard. I went through the first three months of school not writing a single thing. Over the holidays I got some writing done and started new stories and NOW I try to write a little bit each day. 500 words (or a scene) is usually my goal and so far I’ve been able to keep up to that. But it’s hard because I have lessons to plan and assignments to do and well, I have no social life so that helps, but I don’t do much reading anymore either which is sad.

    Overall, balancing is extremely hard and I admire anyone who IS able to do it.

  2. Samantha W February 26, 2010 at 11:05 PM #

    I’m a terrible example, as I don’t have any balance as of yet… It’s all work/school for me at the moment. But what I -plan- to do is this:

    Scheduling. I know what time my classes are. I have a pretty good idea of how much at home time I need to devote to projects. I know my work schedule, usually up to two weeks of it. And thus, I -know- when I really do have time… That time that I usually let waste away with facebook. The time I spend reading rather than writing (though, there should be a balance there too, as I’m sure reading can only improve your writing).

    So, by taking into account all factors, school, work, homework, sleep, dinner…. I can find the spaces in the cracks and decide “I’m free from 4:30-6:00, so I’ll write”. It may not be a lot of time, but it is -something- . ^-^

  3. Angela February 27, 2010 at 1:49 AM #

    I can’t believe I didn’t notice this post all day. Still, I’m so happy that you guys will be posting five times a week from now on.

    I’m still a student, but sometimes school can get in the way of writing. Later last year, I had to prepare for my college entrance exams, which is the most important and dreaded event in a Japanese kid’s life. I was at school for at least 12 hours
    ,and I spent 3 hours on the train, so I had only 10 minutes on the computer.

    Classes are over, but I have a part-time job at McDonalds. Compared to last year, I have more time to write, but now I’m getting 9-hour shifts, which is crazy. I’d hate to know what will happen when I start college in April.

  4. Amanda Waldo February 27, 2010 at 12:20 PM #

    This is actually one of the most frustrating aspects of my life right now. I work at a newsstand at an airport. If you are scheduled for an eight hour shift – it feels like a ten hour shift because of getting through security and the rushed nature of airports in general. Our store’s hours are from 5 am to 8 pm. As you can imagine, this can take a lot out of a person, even if they only work part time.

    Needless to say, once I started working here, I had a very hard time adjusting my writing schedule. I didn’t write at all for nine straight months. Now that I’ve grown more accustomed to my busy life, I’ve been able to discipline myself to accomplish certain tasks. I make time for myself to write even if I’ve had a long day.

    Things take longer for me to complete than I’d like, but it doesn’t mean they don’t get accomplished. For instance, I’ve been working on my query letter for a month now. Ideally I would have liked to have sent it out weeks ago, but I know it just takes me a little longer. I have to be very patient with myself, and as long as the patience doesn’t turn to laziness, I find this method very productive.

    I guess my bottom line here is – if you want to write you will make the time to write, regardless of how time consuming your job is. : )

  5. Landon February 28, 2010 at 1:39 PM #

    Hey! Thanks for answering, everyone!

    Personally, my productivity depends on the time of year (with school being my day job). Winter always seems to be the low-point for my creativity, and coincidentally, that’s when I’m busiest. In spring my schedule loosens up, then in summer the words are endless!

    One thing I’d like to get better at is grabbing the available time to write whenever it comes up, whether I’m thoroughly inspired or not in a creative mood whatsoever.

    Thanks again!

  6. gabydasilva February 28, 2010 at 1:50 PM #

    Wow, I’ve…. never had any problems balancing writing and the rest of my life. Granted, I wrote my novel during college, so I didn’t have _that_ much to do… and studying is just easy for me, so it never took too much time away from me =P

    Since my classes were scattered throughout the day, I used the mornings to write, and sometimes Thursdays afternoons. Also, since Mexico City becomes paralized every Friday, I took the chance to visit a nearby coffee house and write write write for about four hours straight (“Hey, why is my laptop running out of power?? Damn cheap batteries! …what, it’s been four hours?”).

    I’ve never been able to get into the habit of writing a blog, though. I don’t think I have a lot to talk about (there’s my dogs. Do you like dogs? I do.) and the moment I think that nobody would read it, I get laaazy. Right now I’m not writing anything, but I’m planning my new novel so there’s a lot of reading…

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