Writing Around Full Time Employment

One of the biggest challenges I faced after finally deciding to end the lifelong procrastination and actually get down to writing a novel was how to balance it without affecting my job. Bram Stoker, T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf and countless others managed it so it must be possible… but how?



If you want to be a writer, then you have to write. While the job will make it difficult, you still make time for drinking, social media, sports activities and a whole range of other tasks. Writing needs to feature at or near the top of that list, otherwise, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Close your email, resist the draw of Facebook, keep picturing your completed manuscript and stay focused on achieving it.


Use Time Wisely

As alluded to in the point above, time is going to be a valuable commodity for you so you will need to be flexible in terms of how you use it. Do you write on public transport? If not, why not? You have a lunch break, do you sit there chewing the fat with colleagues about the same things you do every other day? Do you sit waiting for your children while they are playing football or dancing? These are all examples of valuable writing time. If you outline the scenes of your novel in advance, then keep the outline with you at all times. You never know when you might have the opportunity to squeeze another in. Scenes make chapters, chapters make books.


Enjoy the Art

Not every part of writing will make you leap for excitement but you do need to enjoy doing it, otherwise what is the point? You are going to have to work hard to fit the time in, the more you enjoy doing it, the easier you are going to find this to do.



In addition to the scenes you have squeezed in corridors and on trains, you should set aside specific times in which you will be writing. Make it a habit, ensure that you are not able to be disturbed during this time. The majority of your work will be completed at these times so it’s essential that you make and stick to these windows of opportunity. Without them, there is no book. Some say write every day, but I don’t think that is essential. If you haven’t written in 3 or 4 days, I think you need to look at your routine.


Ultimately you should remember you are a writer, not a full-time writer. You need to respect the company paying your salary and know that you are going to need that salary for longer than any of us would probably like. Let’s say you complete the masterpiece and are lucky enough to get the book published. The chances of you being able to give up your job at that point are still minimal, so don’t burn your bridges. Think of your employment as the facilitator that allows you to pursue your writing dream. Hopefully one day you won’t need it, but the reality for most is that you will, don’t allow your imagination to blow it for you.



6 thoughts on “Writing Around Full Time Employment

  1. Sara Butler Zalesky says:

    When the story engulphs my ADHD brain, there isn’t a moment that I’m not developing scenes, especially when I’m supposed to be doing something else. Drugs don’t help. Luckily I have a job that I can sneak it in between phone calls, and a commute that lets me have conversations with myself.


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