In the meantime, those of us who have a day job (and sometimes a demanding one) struggle on, trying to balance life with writing. I was thinking the other day about this and wondering if I would ever get to be a fulltime writer, at some glorious point in my life. And then I realised that I probably wouldn’t want to. There is a saying that forbidden love is twice as sweet as permitted love. While I find this to some extend ridiculous, I can understand the sentiment with writing. When you spend eight to ten hours of your day doing something else, writing suddenly becomes a haven. When you spend eight to ten hours of your day writing, even push ups can begin to look attractive. I know, because I’ve done this in the school holidays. My day job is music teaching. So actually, oddly enough, I really do thank God for my day job. It keeps me a more balanced person I believe. It certainly keeps the writing spicy and fresh.
For those of you looking to balance your day job with your writing, here are several tips that have worked for me.
- Work time is work time; writing time is writing time.
Don’t think about anything other than what you are meant to be doing now. Don’t check emails related to writing or try to squeeze things in during the quiet times at work – the same goes for when writing becomes boring, and you try to squeeze a work job in. Set aside blocks of time where you do nothing but what you have determined to focus on. This makes for effective efforts in either department.
- Guard your writing time.
Treat the precious hours of writing time that you do have like work time. Don’t cram an extra work commitment in when you know you’ll regret not writing anywhere from an hour later to a week later. The regret hurts.
- Have achievable goals.
10,000 words a week is achievable for me, but only if I don’t have exams that week… or extra students because of necessary auditions, etc. Then I have to drop the word count to 7000. I stay positive because I’ve still met my goal. Staying positive keeps me from losing motivation to write.
- Stay positive about your day job too.
Find reasons that you like it – the reasons that you might have gotten it in the first place. If you don’t stay positive about it, you’ll be rushing things and putting yourself in an angry writing mood anyway.
Lastly, remember: if your writing ever becomes your day job, you’ll discover it can be a slog too. You can become enslaved to your own passion in the same way that you can become enslaved to any other job. For me, I look at it this way: if writing is a luxury for me now, rather than my bread and butter, I may well enjoy it more than if I’m getting stressed about making a living from it.