Writing while holding down a job

A reader recently asked me how I managed to write two books while holding down a full time job. I guess the short answer is, if you saw how long it took between books you’d know that they didn’t come quickly.

But I’m persistent. And that’s pretty much it.

The best advice I have gotten from a fellow writer is to write for 15 minutes each day. I think that’s brilliant. It’s a lot easier to find 15 minutes to write than 3 or 4 hours, right? And that 15 minutes is such a small commitment, you know you can do it.

It’s a trick of course. You know that there will be days when the words begin to flow and you go way over your 15 minutes. And that’s the idea!

I write a little faster these days, but there’s still not enough time. I participate in projects in two local historical societies, but that’s just an excuse. The fact is I allow myself to get side-tracked. We all do. But, by getting into a routine like writing during breakfast or lunch, my own work remains active. And when I keep at it, the finish line eventually comes into view and I’m spurred on like I’ve rounded the bend and am heading down the home stretch.

Another way I try to budget my time is to skip over problem areas. Sometimes when I’m stuck it’s because I need to do more research. But when I get into the fascinating and fun world of interesting facts, I can get lost there for a very long time. While some research may be so crucial that the story cannot continue without it, much of it, like looking up dates and locations, can be deferred. So when I have a simple thing to look up or when I know what I want to put into a scene, but the words just aren’t coming, I write myself a note on my “GBA” my “Go back and add” sheet which I mentioned in my 7 Writing Routines post, so I can keep moving forward and make the corrections later or in the next draft.

It’s a lot like exercising. You have to commit to the work. If you wait until the mood hits, you’ll accomplish very little. 

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