How to write even with a pesky day job

Jun 20, 2022

One of the biggest complaints I hear from writers—in all levels of their career—is time. Not enough of it, specifically. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. How to maximize it, how to manage it better, how not to let it slip away. We’ve all heard the tough love—how we all get the same 24 hours in a day, so it’s on us if we don’t get the right things done. (That’s true, of course, but sometimes it’s not helpful to hear.)

I even heard a really interesting take on time from entrepreneur Ed Mylett. Ed doesn’t subscribe to the 24-hour concept; instead he structures three 8-hour days within each day, something I am SO trying out. Because I’m still trying to master my time. 

But here’s the thing. I HAD to learn how to get a handle on time, because I’ve been writing two books a year with a full-time job for the past seven years. Except for that one really nutty year that I wrote three…with a full-time job. To make matters worse, it was 2020, and I worked in financial services at the time, and life was a constant stream of crisis comms for about six months. But I digress. 

The point is, in order to do that and not actually die, you have to get pretty good at managing time. And let me tell you, if I can do it, you can too.

Here are my tips for getting your writing time in if you have a day job (and/or other responsibilities, which I’m pretty sure most of us do). And by the way—this is for anyone looking to write, whether you’re pre-published, a working writer, a blogger—you get the picture. 

Get up half an hour earlier and use that time to write. You’d be amazed by what you can accomplish. In my free Spirit Writer’s Collective Facebook group, we do writing hours that consist of two 25-minute sprints. You can get A LOT done in 25 minutes.

Carve out time during your lunch break, even if it’s fifteen minutes. I remember hearing crime novelist Richard Marinick speak back when his first book, Boyos, came out. He had been in prison when he wrote the book, and said he’d written a lot of it sitting under an underpass on break when he was out doing road clean up. Now that’s dedication.

Schedule your writing time in your calendar. That way, it’s harder to put it off. Treat it like any other appointment where someone is expecting you to show up. Because someone is – your muse. Keep standing her up and she won’t come around much.

Turn off distractions. This means your phone, your notifications, your pings, your wireless, your family…Make your writing time sacred. 

Start with these strategies to get into a rhythm. And just keep going! Small actions add up. Even when you think you “only” have a few minutes, make a habit of writing, even if it’s just a few sentences. It keeps you in the story and keeps it moving. 

Ready to write? Head over to Instagram and tell me how you’re going to manage your writing time more mindfully. 

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