Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Writer With a Day Job

I know most writers dream of writing full time and I am no exception. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my day job and I am very grateful to have it, but I long to pay my bills with my writing. Ever since I was in kindergarten if someone asked me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I would say, "An author." Some things don't change.

I have made money as writer (I've worked as a journalist, an editor, a technical writer and a technical editor), but never a novelist. I now work as an environmental scientist. Sometimes I kick myself for not sticking with writing, but everything happens for a reason. Right?

Balancing work, life, and writing can be tricky. I have the option of working a flexible schedule, so I choose to work ten hour days and have Friday-Sunday off. I get most of my writing done on these three days, but I also write for two hours every week night. It took awhile to find this discipline, but now that I have it, I will never let it go.

Some days my pesky auto immune disease demands that I rest. On those days I just do as much as I can. Then there is life. I have a husband, a house, and three animals. Luckily, I am an early bird. I'm up by 7am (at the latest) on weekends, and my husband doesn't wake up until much later. I utilize the time to write. My schedule can be hard and exhausting, but I love it. I've made many sacrifices for my writing, but I'm happy to do it. It will all be worth it in the end.

Whether you work full time, part time, or are a stay at home mom; how do you balance life with your writing schedule? Do you have a fixed schedule like me? What sacrifices have you made for your writing career?


  1. I am an adjunct professor who teaches writing & lit part time. I do like to teach, so it works for me. I still have time to work on my own writing.

  2. Nice! I bet you are in the zone frequently :) I found when I was doing scientific writing, I wasn't feeling as creative when I got home. My current job has a little writing, but not like doing it full time. I have found I can focus on my WIP much better now during my lunch break and when I get home. Weird how the brain works.

  3. I have a pretty fixed schedule, writing when my daughter naps in the afternoons. I sneak extra time in everywhere though. Five minutes here and there when I can.

  4. Great post, Courtney! I have learned that few authors are able to support themselves by their writing alone; myself included. (I'm a full-time college staff member and adjunct college history professor.) Still, we can hope and dream, right?
    Jaz Primo
    Author, Sunset Vampire Series

  5. A fixed schedule works best for me, too. I am very deadline/goal oriented, so I set weekly deadlines/goals for myself and work towards them.

    Absolutely! We can dream and pursue those dreams =) It's hard to fit it all into 24 hours, but as writers, sometimes that's what we have to do.

  6. My schedule is all over the place, but I do most of my writing at night, after my kiddos have gone to sleep. During the day, I'm working or with the kids and my poor hubby is the one who has to sacrifice the time with me. He's the best!

  7. I work full time and do my best to write an hour or two each evening and at least an hour in the morning. When I get a break at work I can usually get a few blog posts written (rare but it happens).
    If I do not write at least a few hours every weekend I get upset with myself so I try to stick with the schedule..

  8. What a great article and I command your discipline. I am lucky/unlucky that I have had health problems/surgeries that made it impossible for me to even have a nine to fiver. I do Interior design and interior decorating on the side, but it's been very slow as this is a luxury service. Thank God for my supporting man who believes in my writing. To be honest making money from a novel is very hard, I just started getting out of the red (does not include me getting paid for the hours I worked)so hopefully by book II we'll see. But I'm also an Indie author without too much exposure out there besides my novel to speak for itself. A. Jacob Sweeny
    Author of Pulse Of Heroes

  9. Hello, Courtney!

    I chuckle to myself as I write this response from work. Your post is an excellent one. It really hits close to home.

    You can say my schedule is more of a "by the seat of my pants" routine. I'm a degreed paralegal working in downtown Phoenix. I live in Surprise, so my commute each way is an hour. Include a nine hour work day (lunch hour included) and the commute, I am running eleven hours a day before I even step foot back home. Then there's dinner, family, and hoping I'm not too tired to write.

    Most of my writing is during lunch hours and whatever snippets of time I can muster after dinner. I must admit that although my mind is always running and ready, sometimes I am just too exhausted to write.

    Considering all of this, there is still nothing more that makes my heart sing or keeps my soul alive. Writing is my life, the world I long to exist in. Until I am blessed with the ability to make my writing my sole (or rather soul...hehehe) source of income, I will continue to feel like an alien life form forced to live on an unfamiliar rogue planet.

    There is no doubt that if I allowed the exhaustion to win, or if I ever decided to let my guard down for a single moment, I would crash. But I couldn't live without writing. My existence would wither and die without it.

    Thank you for your post. I really enjoyed it. I am now following your fabulous blog. I have left a few links below if you would like to follow back. :)

    Warmest regards,

    Kristine Cheney
    Spartan Heart, Part One
    Spartan Heart, Part Two

    Blog: www.spartanheartbyauthorkristinecheney.blogspot.com
    Facebook Fan Page: www.facebook.com/AuthorKristineCheney
    Facebook Personal: www.facebook.com/KristineCheney
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  10. I'm a retired teacher and thought I'd have plenty of time to write. Life keeps getting in the way however. I try to stick to a schedule when I can. Who wants to dust the house anyway?