How to Juggle a Writing Career as well as a Full Time Job

Okay, I’ll say it, writing isn’t exactly the most well paying job out there when your first start out so in order to yano, survive, a lot of us have to go out and get jobs and with the ever rising prices of rent, food and utilities for most us, getting a full time job is the only option.
Working 40 hours a week as well as dealing with the other stresses that life brings, it can be pretty difficult to find the time to live… let alone write.

In this post, I hope to help you learn to juggle your writing career as well as your job and in doing so too find a healthy balance in your life that you’re happy with.

It’s hard work, but if you want something badly enough it’s worth it.
  • Have a set ‘writing time’ I can’t stress this point enough, making time in your day to write is essential if you’re serious about making it a career. You have set hours to go to work so make set hours for your writing as well. I am well aware that nowadays most jobs don’t offer the normal nine-to-five hours and if you’re like me and have eight hour shifts dotted all over the shop it can be extremely difficult to set a set time to write. It’s difficult, but doable.  The best advice I can give is become one of those people who plan their days. Just for the simplicity we’ll use the nine-to-five hours as an example. 
6am - 9am - Get up, have breakfast, cup of tea/coffee (what ever your preference) get ready, go to work. Simple.
    9am - 5pm - Work.
    5pm - 7pm - Get home, eat dinner, relax a little (it’s important to have that time to unwind)
    7pm - 9pm - Writing time.

    9pm - 6am - Sleep.

    And then we start it all over again…

    I understand that everyones lives are different and we all have different commitments but planning your day and putting aside even just the smallest amount of time to write will make a huge difference. Writing something in that little time you’ve set aside is better than writing nothing because you’ve set no time aside at all.

    • Make the most of your day Just because you’re at work or out shopping doesn’t mean you just magically stop being a writer for that period of time and just because you’re not sitting in your writing space purposely working on your book doesn’t mean you can’t write. Make the most of your time. I find always having a notepad or dictaphone on me helps. It means that even though I’m not specifically sitting down to work on what ever it is I’m writing, throughout the day I can still think of ideas, plot twist, characters and possible outcomes and then when I do sit down specifically to write all those things I’ve been filling my notepad and dictaphone with all day are going to help the process.

    • Take a ‘writing holiday’ No, this isn’t encouraging you to call in sick so you can spend the day writing. You have bills to pay. Taking a writing holiday is something I do as often as I can. Some people take holiday’s at work to go abroad, to have a well deserved rest, for loads of reason’s really; I suppose the beauty of accrued holiday time is that you don’t have to explain yourself. Me, I take holidays to write. Whether it’s a day, a few days, a few weeks, it doesn’t matter as long you actually use your writing holiday for the reason that you’ve taken it. It’s precious time that once it’s gone it’s gone so don’t waste it! 

    • Take a ‘holiday from writing’ Yes, it is important to set aside time to write and to do it often but it is just as important to set aside time for yourself. Working full time, raising a family, living in general and writing - it’s all very stressful so as long as you’ve put enough into your writing to earn this, take a break and take some time out for you. Sometimes, creativity is at its best from a well rested and refreshed mind.  

    As I’ve said already in this post, everyone’s lives and commitments are different but implementing these simple steps into your life will make a huge difference.

    I really hope they help and happy writing guys!

    J A Shaw (@jashawofficial)

    If you've enjoyed this post check out: How to go from 'Someone who Writes' to 'Writer'

    How to go from ‘Someone who Writes’ to ‘Writer’

    Like many of thousands of people out there I class myself as a writer and though I may not be rich and famous with 10 bestsellers under my belt, the reason I feel I have the right to class myself as a writer is because I do more than just ‘write’.

    Writing is the easy part - I hear you screaming “said no one ever!” - but it’s true. Anyone can write, it’s the quality that differs.

    ‘Someone who writes’ is someone who can go days, even weeks without writing then just crack open the laptop write a few pages then done. ‘Someone who writes’ does not truly understand the agonising wait as someone reads through what you’ve written with scrutinising eyes or the gut-wrenching depression that can take hold when your books storyline spirals out of your control and writer’s block comes at you with a vengeance.

    Someone who writes is not a writer.
    A writer does more than just write.

    In these next six steps, I hope to give you an insight into how to go from ’someone who writes’ to ‘writer’.

    1. Write something daily 

    If you truly want writing to be your profession then you have to write… simple. You wouldn’t not turn up to work for a few weeks then go back and expect to still have a job, so why do it with your writing? If you want to write for a career then start treating your writing as a job.
    You don’t have to write anything in particular but as long as you write something your creativity will stay in constant flow.

    2. Create a schedule and stick to it!

    It’s easy to just sit down and write a few words when ever you feel like it or ‘when the creativity hits’ but the real test of being a writer is writing when the well of your creativity is running dry. Having the commitment and determination to write when you ‘don’t feel like it’, when your tired or when writers block has its grip hard around your neck… that’s the true difference between being someone who writes and a writer.

    3. Learn your craft 

    Would you go for a job interview for a role as a doctor without ever doing any medical training? No. Would you try out for the olympic swimming team without ever stepping foot in a pool? No. So why would you write without reading the genre that you’re writing about?
    One point I cannot stress enough is that if you want to be a writer… You must be a reader.
    A lot of people don’t read the genre they are writing about because they don’t want to risk plagiarism but what they fail to realise is that these books they are refusing to read are filled with inspiration! These authors have published books for a reason so use what is in front of you! See how they write, how they plot their stories and pen the perfect cliff-hangers, use their skill to learn your own.

    4. Don’t become a desk potato 

    As a writer it can be easy to spend days cooped up in your little writing space, living off of nothing but coffee and takeaways. If this is you… stop now!
    I know it sounds crazy but as important as the actual writing is, lifestyle in general plays a massive part in the quality of your book.
    If you are sitting filling your face with stodge, what makes you think your books going to be any different?
    If you haven’t moved for days as you stare at a blank page, what makes you think your writing is going to do any different?
    Spending time on your writing is important but rather than being glued to a computer screen make sure you take regular breaks. Go for a walk, clean the house, do anything that gets you away from your computer for a little while. I know the thought of exercise doesn’t sound the most exciting but speaking from experience, during these times is when the best ideas come so when suffering with writers block… walk it off.
    Instead of crying into a chocolate muffin and then helping it go down with a 2 litre bottle of coke as you edit for the thousandth time, have a salad! Yom some fish or at least have an apple!
    Fill yourself with the right type of energy and use that energy to write.

    5. Remove distractions 

    We’ve all done it, opened the laptop with the full intention of writing the next bestseller then half an hour later realised that we’ve wrote one sentence which happens to be our status update, watched 15 cat videos and ‘fail’ compilations as well as caught up on the latest celebrity gossip.
    If you truly want to be a writer, this needs to stop.
    I recommend for the first 3 - 4 weeks of your book writing journey cutting off the internet connection during your writing time, turning off phones and removing all forms of distraction us writers can create from nowhere. For me, these forms of distraction can be anywhere from Facebook, Instagram, working out my monthly bills to the random fly that I just have to watch flying around my room.
    Distractions are everywhere… being a true writer is learning how not to let them distract you.

    And finally…

    6. Finish what you’ve started 

    It’s all well and good writing the most amazing story, article, poem, blog or book but if you don’t finish it… what’s the point?
    Anyone can write a few pages but finishing what you’ve started takes serious commitment.
    What you’re writing may not be perfect but if you don’t finish it how will you know if it ever could be?
    Even if what you’re writing is not going to be published still finish it. Every bit of writing we finish is improving our skills as a writer, it is helping us learn how to write a beginning, middle and end.
    If you have never finished anything then suddenly have that eureka moment of the perfect characters in the perfect story, how do you expect to finish it? The beginning and middle may be perfect but if you have never practiced the skill of writing an ending, of bringing the beginning and middle together to form the perfect plot twists and reveals of why certain things happened that’s the point when your amazing, eureka moment book starts to sag and soon becomes another story on the seemingly never-ending list of unfinished works and dead hopes and dreams.
    Finish what you’ve started, edits are there for a reason and when you have the full story written you’ll be surprised what edits can do.

    I really hope these tips help with your writing journey.

    Don’t give up.

    Only you can write your story so write it, don’t deny the world a little piece of you by not making the most of your talent.

    J A Shaw

    If you've enjoyed this post check out: Overcoming Writer's Block: Journal Your Book

    Overcoming writer’s block: Journal Your Book

    Non-writers will never understand the debilitating evil that is writer's block. It is real and it is soul destroying. You can go days, weeks even months without suffering from writer's block, writing stuff of pure genius when suddenly… BAM!
    ‘Wut ar werdz?’

    It’s awful because to everyone else writing is just sitting at a computer and putting words together… To you, writing is life. When other people focus on putting together the perfect outfits or meals you focus on putting together the perfect sentence and not just the perfect sentence but a whole string of perfect sentences in the hope of eventually forming the perfect book!

    For you non-writers: Imagine being a fashionista then one day waking up and not being able to dress yourself? Or being a chef and one day waking up and being unable to cook? I can literally smell your panic from here…

    Trust me when I say, telling a writer to simply ‘get over it’ or ‘don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll finish your little book in the end’ is just adding insult to injury.

    For you writers: Today I am going to share a technique I use to overcome writer's block, one that has worked for me on so many occasions I have lost count and I really hope it does the same for you.

    Journal your book.

    Working full-time as well as dealing with the day-to-day’s of life in general, in the little time I did have to write I’d find it so difficult to sit down, shut out the world and just write! (Click here to read some tips and tricks to juggle a writing career and a full time job.) It got to the point where I was suffering with writer's block daily and when I could write; thinking every word was pure gold, I’d read it back only to see that somewhere along the way I’d completely lost sight of my storyline - if I even had one in the first place?

    I’m sure you’ve all been there, that moment where you think you’re almost done and you’re that excited that you’ve just got to take that look back and read through the amazingness that is your book and five chapters in you’re in a ball on the floor, curled up in a foetal position sucking your thumb; as confused with your place in the world as your characters are in your story.
    It’s horrendous.

    Deciding enough was enough and had to get my s*** together, with my new book I started to journal along side it.
    My God, what a difference!
    With each chapter I would ramble on in my journal about what I wanted to happen and why, going into depth about the characters and how I wanted them to feel, what I wanted them to do and the way I wanted it to affect the reader. I would also talk about how what happens in the chapter affected the rest of the book.
    It seems such a simple thing, but doing this has made the difference between me just writing for the sake of writing and writing to be published.

    To put it into perspective for you, I spent 3 months on the prologue of my book. I couldn’t move on to another chapter because I had no clue what I wanted to happen. I knew what type of book I wanted to write just not how it needed to be written.
    I journaled for one hour, rambling on about what I wanted to happen in the book and who the main character is then suddenly, before I knew it I’d cracked the entire story line; every trigger point, every character, every conflict, just everything.
    This was something I’d never been able to do before because I’d get so far then think ’S***, what happens now?’ and writers block would show its ugly face.
    Journaling changed my way of writing forever.

    They say the only way to combat writer's block is to write and I can’t agree enough.
    When I’m stuck, staring at a blank page certain I will never be able to string two words together let alone a sentence, I journal. I don’t journal about anything in particular, I just write about life, what I did that day, what I want to do, just silly things until eventually the creative tap is turned on and the words begin flowing.

    I hope journaling does for you what it does for me.
    Writing your book isn’t the only form of writing so don’t let writer's block be an excuse.

    J A Shaw

    If you've enjoyed this post check out: Wage War with Writer's Block

    Wage War With Writers Block

    As writers, we have all been there. That dark, lonely isolating place that is writers block. It’s a demon that digs it claws somewhere deep inside of you until you’re writhing in utter agony, the only thing strong enough to defeat it being that eureka moment we all so desperately crave. 
    This demon can have hold of us for minutes, hours, days, months! and like fools, we listen to its mocking taunts and soul destroying whispers. “You’re not good enough” “Did you honestly think you could write?” “Who on Earth would read that!” 
    As a writer, I’ve had enough. This demon has had its claw buried in all of us for too long, so I say enough is enough! I say it’s time all of us writers who have had our souls beaten down and trodden on by this demon to make a stand, for I my lovely's shall reveal the only true way to destroy the demon that is writer’s block and free us all from its rusted shackles that are doubt. 
    To Write. 
    Sounds crazy doesn’t it? The way to beat the demon is to do the one thing it’s stopping you from doing… write. 
    I can promise you, as one who is forever in battle with this demon I have defeated it many of times by doing this. I won’t deny that this creature is relentless but each time it returns, shackles at the ready… it’s weaker. 
    So as one writer to another I urge you to open your laptop, put pen to paper, feel the press of the keys as you type on your keyboard and wage war with writers block. 
    Everyday, write something. It doesn’t have to be literary genius, it can be a description of what you had for breakfast, a passing thought about something you’d watched on TV or just a rant about life in general because with every word you write you are firing bullets at the demon charging towards you and with every sentence your bullets gain momentum until eventually, the demon cowers, releasing its hold on you as it runs with its monstrous tail between its legs off to lick its wounds. 
    It is then my fellow writers that the literary genius will come. 
    I am in battle right now… come join me.