Writing With a Day Job

Writing Career Plus a Day Job
Juggling a Day Job With a Writing Career?

Are you a writer, or an aspiring writer with a day job? Ever get tired trying to juggle at least two careers, (day job and writing), along with mommy, daddy, spouse, family, friend, and church duties?

If so, you are not alone. A conference speaker gave this statistic. “About one percent of writers succeed at getting published. Because most drop out of the race.” Here’s my post on that experience.

Embedded within that percentage is a smaller number of those who can actually afford to write full-time. Making the leap to a devoted writing career usually requires long-term planning, intentional strategy, and detailed tactics. Jeff Goins’ recent blog encapsulates a great way to approach the goal of becoming a full-time writer. The steps he outlines, I could have written myself. (More on that in a later post.)

But if you’re reading this now, odds are writing with a day job is your reality. Anything else may feel like something built on fluffy clouds.

So how do you bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, serve it to those you are responsible for, and after the dishes are done still find time to pursue that dream throbbing with every heart beat? Can it be done? I believe the answer is a resounding YES!

People often ask me how I accomplish everything at work and home, plus write blogs, devotionals, articles, and books. After I imagine my cluttered living room, (I’m not Wonder Woman, something has to suffer), three things come to mind. “Resolve, listen, act.”

As a writer with a day job:

Juggling a Writing Career and a Day Job
Resolve to Invest Time in Your Writing Business

A. Resolve to invest wisely.

  • Treat your day job with respect. Just because you have a higher calling, or a bigger dream, don’t discount the gift of your employment today. After all, it pays the bills, and you can glean great writing fodder from things that happen in your workplace.
  • Watch less television, and write more. 
  • Create your own Writer’s Cave.
  • Rise earlier, and allow fewer sleep-in days.
  • Write when you’re tired, energized, or just so-so.
  • Schedule writing, don’t wait until you feel like it.
  • Celebrate small victories. Fifteen minutes putting words on a screen are worthy of excitement.

B. Listen to voices of genuine authority.

  • For me, the voice of God rings truth above any other I might listen to. Early on, I asked the Best Selling Author of All Time to mentor me, and He hasn’t let me down yet.
  • Do not disregard those who have written with day jobs before you. Heed their valuable advice.
  • Seek the wisdom of professional agents, editors, and publishers. They are in their positions based on education, experience, and talent.

Writer With a Day Job Book CoverC. Act on what you are taught.

  • Be a doer — not a hearer, dreamer, thinker, talker only.
  • Keep something for notes with you always. Inspiration comes in strange times and places.
  • Make tiny goals like, “Write for five minutes before I leave for work.” You will encourage yourself with things to look forward to, and enjoy a sense of satisfaction when you complete them.
  • Keep your word. It’s better not to make a promise at work, or as a writer, than to make one and break it.

Have you read Aine Greaney’s fabulous book, Writer with a Day JobIt’s full of tips, exercises, and encouragements.

23 Replies to “Writing With a Day Job”

  1. Excellent advice, Anita. I made the vow to rise an hour earlier (despite not being a morning person) to fit in some uninterupted writing time before going to my day job. I’m not allowed to go online or doing any other computer task, except write on my novel, no research either. I’ve more than doubled my word count. When I’m tempted to hit snooze, I remind myself I’ll be late for work. 🙂

    1. Double the word count — WoW, that’s incentive for investing an extra hour.

      Can’t wait to read from those results. And your advice about not allowing yourself to work on other computer tasks is excellent. It’s so easy to get distracted, probably more so than ever in our current culture.

  2. What a great and timely (for me) post, Anita! This is precisely the situation I’ve been wracking my brains over in recent weeks. I’ve emerged from a period of day-job instability to a much better situation but am struggling to get my writing mojo reactivated. I’m particularly bad for just flopping in front of the TV of an evening, so my pledge will be to only put the TV on if there’s something specific I want to watch and instead get my notebook and pen cracking. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. You are more than welcome. If you don’t have a DVR, it might be a good investment. The ability to record a select number of programs, and use them as a reward for spending productive time on my computer, has enhanced my writing even more.

  3. Thank you for this encouragement. I’ve been praying about my frustration with not having enough time and trying to figure out why God would call me to write a novel when life is so full. I needed these words to help me re-evaluate and get myself together. Thank you.

    1. Glad it helped, Penny. I think most of us who write professionally have been there, and some of us still are. You CAN do ALL things through Christ, even hammer out a novel while working a full time day job. 🙂

  4. Anita, thanks for the encouragement. And thanks for the reminder to respect the day job. I’d like to echo your thoughts. In January I made a major decision–for me, at least–to drop down to a 4-day work week because getting up at 3 AM for work was really having it’s impact. Though I have less pocket cash, I’m squeaking in extra writing time and my writer self is smiling again. I’m actually out “sick” from work today because of an odd fall last night, leaving my nose, mouth, and eyes swollen and not pretty looking… but you bet I’m going to be writing today. Bottom line for us writers: write when you can and leave the guilt behind.

    1. Such inspiration, Elaine. I too reduced my day job hours last year, when I signed my first book contract. In a subsequent post, I’ll share the results of that decision. Hint…it’s all good!

      I hope you heal quickly, and pray that you can squeak out LOTS of productive writing today. Blessings!!!

  5. As a newspaper columnist/author, I could relate. Thanks for the inspiration. Juggling two (or more) jobs forces you to answer the question: What really matters in life? In some ways, I believe it sharpens your resolve to not waste time, even if, at times, I wish I had just a little extra time to at least consider wasting.

  6. Great post with such great tips. Now– back to editing before my next nursing shifts!

  7. I know you have the writing with a day job down to a science, Jordyn. Thank you for always inspiring the rest of us.

    And your novel, Poison, rocks! I am having withdrawals because I was forced to put it on hold for a few days to tie up some really big projects, but I LOVE it! Can’t wait to dig back in. Great work.

  8. I love the writing for five minutes before going to work idea. I’ve tried for years to be one of those people that can get out of bed at 5:00am, write for an hour or more and then head into the day job. Just doesn’t work for me, I don’t seem to be wired for it. I used to write from 7-9:00pm and when I finished my contract I stopped doing that because I lost my writers cave to a much needed bedroom for another family member. Now that I have three books under my belt I’ve noticed that I’m TIRED!. So I have to find new ways of energizing me while juggling all the demands of full time counseling, family demands, taking care of me, house, etc. and trying to have some time for friends and dates with hubby. It’s important to keep our priorities in order even whe it’s difficult to do. I’ll be making some changes soon that I’ve been thinking about and hoping the strategy is a smart one. I want to work smarter, not harder.

  9. I keep a notepad with me at all times and have been able to get a lot of writing done while on the bus coomuting to work.

  10. Anita, you provide some great advice in this post. Even those able to write full time can benefit from your tips!

  11. I liked what you had to say and how you put it. I wrote my latest book while working. It wasn’t easy, but I agree with your point about making a time for writing. While writing my book, I rose at 5:45 A.M every morning and got in front of my computer by 6:30. Fortunately, I live only five minutes from my job so that gave me from between thirty to forty-five minutes every morning to write before I had to feed the dogs and leave for work. The key I found was consistency. I did this every morning, unless I had a meeting to attend or some other conflict arose. There’s one other word I would add to consistency and that’s persistence. Great blog!

    1. I really appreciate your feedback, mwsnow123. And hearing it from someone living in the trenches makes your response even more meaningful. Hope you get the opportunity to write many more books, in between tending to your dogs and work life. 🙂

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