Ruxandra Tarca

writer with a fulltime job

How to be a writer with a fulltime job

It’s every author’s dream to make a living out of what we love most: writing. But, in all honesty, that’s something hard to achieve, and, more often than not, it takes years and a lot of work to become a fulltime writer.

For most new indie writers, quitting job for writing is definitely not an option. So, what can we do until we are actually able to do that? The entire process of becoming an indie author takes a lot of work, time, and sweat. How can we cope with that and our daily job? Is that even possible?

Well, yes, it is, and there are a few tips and tricks for that. The following are what I tested myself and worked, but, of course, how they apply depends on each person.

1 Choose a time slot for writing

It’s important to have a writing schedule. It can be one hour a day, two hours two times a week, or any other combination. Choose your writing hours and stick to it. It helps your project grow, and also strengthens the idea that you are pursuing writing in a professional manner. In a way, it’s like going to work.

It can be done even if you work from home. In order to disconnect from your usual activity and fully get into writing mode, you can change the room, the setup, even your clothes. Just imagine you are going to your part time job and are preparing for it.

2 Turn it into a routine

When you find your most comfortable setting and time to write, turn it into a habit. I wake up at 5.30-6 AM, and I use the morning for writing, until 8.30-9 AM when I start working for my job. To me, this part of the day works best because nobody disturbs me, it’s conveniently and pleasantly silent, and I can focus much better. Evenings are much harder to control, because I never know when I end my working day (the translation industry is a very agile one, with everchanging deadlines from one hour to the next). However, I try as much as possible to do something writing-related in the evenings as well, at least twice a week.

3 Be constant

It’s easy to distract yourself and find reasons to postpone (or cancel altogether) the time slot allotted for writing. Maybe the working day was too tough, you are too tired, you have other household priorities. It’s true that, sometimes, life gets in the way, and more important stuff needs to be done. But it’s important to keep your writing schedule as much as possible. Even if you only edit a page or read a research article, it’s still a step forward.

4 Stay away from all unwanted distractions

Writing time when you have a fulltime job is precious, and even five minutes spent aimlessly on social media instead of focusing on your project are wasted time. As hard as it might be, you need to keep away from conversations with friends, checking the news, laughing at the latest memes. And it’s particularly important, especially when you work from home for your daily job, to keep away from work emails. Any notification from your phone can be a distraction and a mood breaker. Leave the phone in other room, and keep only the tabs you really need on your computer.

5 Don’t ever be discouraged

It’s hard when you realize how time consuming your daily job can be; how slowly your writing project progresses; how you’d love to get just a few extra hours each day for that, and it’s impossible to have them. There are times when you might be wondering whether you will ever manage to even finish your first draft. Frustration can be overwhelming. However, no matter how small the steps, each journey will have a finish line as long as you walk constantly on the chosen path. And it might be inspiring to hear about successful authors’ experiences. I watched James Patterson’s masterclass, and, among others, he also talked about his writing routine while he had a full time job. A great example to follow.

It is natural to feel tired and disheartened at times, but that is just part of the process and the reward is even sweeter in the end. I sometimes work 12 hours a day, because I don’t have enough time to complete all my tasks within 8 hours. When I started my debut novel, I was overwhelmed with work. It was a slow and often frustrating journey, but a year and a half later my novel is almost finished (I am currently implementing the last proof edits). It’s a matter of perseverance, patience, and, above all else, trust in your own abilities.

I'm an indie author, translation industry professional, and former magazine editor, with a passion for steampunk, cyberpunk, and historical fiction. My debut novel Laevium, a steampunk story set in Neo-Victorian London, is available from most major online bookstores.

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