Writers With A Day Job: A Support Thread

I’m making the move from PT work (wonderful for getting my writing done) to a FT position in about three weeks. I have no frakkin clue how I’m going to manage this transition, but I know many of the other GWC writers have been dealing with work/write balance for a long time.

I’d love to see this thread a spot for grips, fears, shout outs and support as we all pursue this crazy creative passion.

So me first- I’m not sure when to schedule my writing when go FT in Oct. I’m thinking maybe three days to start- T/TH/Sat. It will have to be in the afternoon since I’ll be going in at 7am to work.

When do other people write?

My context is a bit different, but when I’ve needed to get writing done, I needed to schedule it one way or the other. I’m sure you already know this, but I also generally find that I have to scale back my expectations of when things writing-wise will get done when it’s during the semester and I’m teaching, going to department meetings, etc.

Dawn, I know your question is more about finding time to do creative writing, so this answer is not really on topic.

I feel I have a lot of creativity in me, and would love to put some into creative writing. But my problem is that my day job involves writing about 5,000 or so words and soliciting and editing around another 10,000 words each month.
As I result at the end of the day I’m so burnt out with word-oriented crap that I don’t want to deal with them in my free time.

But as for writing in general, I find I have to first dispense with the myth that you can multitask. You can’t tweet, listen to podcasts, watch TV or whatever when you need both sides of your brain in writing mode.
I also find that the familiar and long compilation of instrumental music is helpful. I listen to the entire three soundtracks of the three Lord of the Rings movie all the time. Recently the Season 5 Doctor Who soundtrack has become a good alternative too. That type of music lets me get lost in my head and ignore whatever is physically or mentally distracting so I can get down to work.

Anyway, good luck to you Dawn.

I think you’re right about not trying to multitask Thot. I do turn off Twitter when I’m deep in a project.

I wish I had advice for you to do some fun writing, but I understand the burn-out on words you feel.

I think rituals are important and I had an instructor who was always trying to get us to “set the mood” for creativity. I’m playing around with this. Instrumental music helps me too, and scented candles. Now that I have a killer light saber, I’m thinking grabbing it before I write might help stir up the mojo.

honestly i carry a small notebook with me everywhere so i can write something anywhere, it’s tough to get some writing done with a full schedule, but i find the best times are when i’m riding the bus to and from places, lol. Although i too need to “set the mood” to write stuff sometimes. usually i start with a glass of wine and and a hand full of notes and start brainstorming without thinking. i’m so surprised sometimes at the stuff that comes from simply writing without though. I also agree with just turning all my gadgets off, but sometimes i get some of my ideas and inspirations from the internet so it depends on if i’m already working on a project or if i’m fishing for ideas! :slight_smile: anywho good luck with your writing!

My new writing schedule starts next week. I have three afternoons (when I’m home from work) marked on the calendar.

I have no creative outlet in my life right now. I need one. I have considered a project and done some initial brainstorming, but I just don’t know if I can commit to it, with everything else going on. Le sigh.

I also write a ton for my job, including things that represent my organization in Congress and other public, high stakes fora, so I need to do a good job consistently. Your advice on not multitasking is very true–because good writing really does require both sides of your brain, and at least 95% of your concentration. I don’t do anything else while I’m writing. It just doesn’t work. I won’t even pick up phone calls unless it’s my boss.

Thot, you and I have VERY similar writing music, it seems. The LotR soundtracks are my Deadline is Looming music. They spur me to action, make me feel the urgency. I listen to them a lot. I also love writing to How to Train Your Dragon soundtrack, Dvorak’s New World Symphony, sometimes the soundtrack to The Hours (Phillip Glass), and any of Yo-Yo Ma’s albums. I can’t write my best when I’m listening to music with lyrics. It has to be instrumental.

Dawn, I don’t have much good advice for you, but I am constantly in awe of how you manage to work, raise kids, keep your house running, and write as much as you do. Don’t get too down on yourself! Hope the new schedule works out.

Would a ‘writer’s group’ help? Sometimes being accountable to someone is a great motivator, kind of like a gym partner. You could have a monthly get together inspire one other and critique each others on going projects. If interested perhaps I and ‘the artist formerly known as Baconface’ could do this to help you out. Just a thought… :slight_smile:

So I had a reply all cued up, but a random sneeze destroyed it…

So I’ll attempt to summarize.

I put in a lot of non-vocal music, with the tempo varied depending on the type of mood I’m trying to set. I’m currently a part timer, but I’m eligible (even requested) to pick up extra time when the workload increases. Due to life’s wacky schedule, this usually happens in 6 hour blocks. (getting kids to and from school, getting wife to and from work, resolving my grandparents’ estate, maintaining my own home, tackling the never ending car repairs, doing the never ever ending laundry, etc. During my “free” time, I write, listen to music, try to work wood, try to work leather, and occasionally read.)

I’m fortunate that work has bits of scrap paper that print up with almost every job that comes off the printer. These are definitely handy; I jot notes or quick blurbs down on them while I’m at work. I’ve found bullets at the beginning are essential and helpful, since in my haste I tend to ignore straight lines. I’ve got several tucked into the back pocket, and both inner pockets of the jacket. I also always carry at least one pen on me at all times. (results of a Boy Scout upbringing) The scary ones are the times I’ve had a thought while driving. I do my absolute best to hold on to that thought until I get to a red light, but I have caught myself writing down a thought while slowly cruising down a side street with no traffic at least twice.

now, if only this effort will pay off… hopefully I’ll finish something, so someone will be able to read it one day.

I know it is tempting people… But please restrain yourselves from making jokes about him ‘working wood’ and ‘leather’. We are better than that. :rolleyes:


I just found this thread and my instant reaction was, “Oh thank God.” I have been working on a fantasy novel for the past few years (meaning a few weeks 2 years ago and then picked it back up recently). I am horribly notorious for getting overwhelmed and giving up? I love the idea of having someone bitch me out for trying to use my excuses.

Then PM Prof Manuel for an invite to the GWC writers group on Google+. We have only just gotten going and have yet to establish a real rhythm, but it is a start. We felt it safer to post portions of our work there than on the forum where literally anyone could stumble across it and steal our hard work. The more the merrier I say.

Once again, for the record, I’m not a creative writer but my day job involves a significant amount of writing.

I’ve always had a problem with procrastination, but this story really gives some good advice.
The idea of setting aside time where there are two rules (1) You don’t HAVE to write but (2) You’re not allowed to doing anything else besides write. That’s probably something a lot of us do anyway, but it sounds like a good strategy to keep the pressure off yourself, but at the same time not permit your self to get distracted by doing something other than,…well…nothing.

Anyway, check this out:


Great advice and link Thot!

If I stay off Twitter, I can focus and write during the time I’ve set aside for it.

It really does help to turn off the wireless on my laptop, pop in my headphones, and write when I’m not at home. I’m lucky in that my job has long stretches of time where I have nothing to do so I can read and write with a minimum of guilt but even during times when I get overwhelmed, I like going out and sitting for an hour or so somewhere else. Panera’s, coffee shop, bookstore, a park, the office of my apartment, so long as I don’t touch my usual procrastination sites I can get some decent stuff banged out. For all that some writers like GRRM say that they absolutely have to be in a certain mood in a certain place to write, inspiration always strikes me hardest when I’m somewhere completely else.

Now to follow my own advice and finish the short story collection I’m working on.headdesk

interesting take on first chapters from Literary Agents —> linkage.

“I don’t like an opening line that’s ‘My name is…,’ introducing the narrator to the reader so blatantly. There are far better ways in Chapter 1 to establish an instant connection between narrator and reader.” — Michelle Andelman, Regal Literary

smirk inducing thoughts.


2011 Me, who posted earlier in this thread, is lookin’ at 2013 Me right now …

2011 Me “Hey, I assume you’ve found that creative outlet for your writing eh?” :cool:

2013 Me “Er…hey, did you know The Walking Dead is still on the air, and is still awesome?” :o