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Holding a full-time job while trying to be a writer

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Devora, Dec 19, 2016.

  1. Devora

    Devora Sage

    As much as i want writing to the full-time job, at this stage, it's not the case. I work as a welder in a factory making aluminum furniture. I clock in for 8 hours and then come home, shower, eat, go to bed. Repeat for instant hell.

    I try to find the time to be a writer but i can't seem to find a way, and i want to do something about it. I don't want to give up writing.

    Any advice is welcomed.
  2. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    As with everything else, you have to make time - somehow.

    I'm a contractor with USPS. Off at 7 am, back by 2 or 3pm - or later, this time of year. I do a few chores when I get back. Sometimes, I'll write for an hour or so. All to often, I'll sit in the armchair, grab a book (or the Kindle, these days), read a bit, lean back...and then its two hours later. After that I rise and eat and write or surf the web until bedtime.
  3. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    I work 07:00-16:00 five days a week. It takes me half an hour to get to work and another half an hour home again, for a total of ten hours working day. I usually spend less than 8 hours in bed. Add an hour in the morning for getting up and getting ready to go to work, and another hour in the evening for food and chores etc. That's another ten hours for food and sleep. Total twenty hours.

    That leaves four hours a day to play around. I'm "fortunate" enough to be single and without a family to care for so I can do whatever I want with my time - usually writing, playing games on the computer, or working out.

    I think the last bit there is actually pretty important.

    If all you do after work is go home, eat, and sleep you're probably sleeping quite a lot. If you're new to the job that's probably natural. It's a different pattern than you're used to and over time you'll get back to needing less sleep. Working out helps though. It increases your endurance and you'll be able to do more. It'll make you feel better overall.

    Most of all, if you've started working recently, just give it some time while you get into the rhythm. It's exhausting at first, but you'll get into it and you'll find you'll manage better with time.

    Most importantly, this sounds like the kind of job where you don't take your responsibilities with you home, meaning once you're done for the day you don't have to worry about work until the next morning.
  4. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    You don't have to write very much to be productive. I say this all the time but 250 words a day for a year will net you a 90k+ word novel. Your post is 84 words, one third of the the way there. Chuck Palahniuk, the guy who wrote Fight Club did it writing only during his lunch hours.

    IMHO there are very few circumstances where one doesn't have the time to write. Most of the time it's a trick of the mind, something one tell themselves because they want to avoid doing something that's probably going to be hard. After work, especially if it's physical, after 8hrs of it, many just want to go home, take a long seat on the crapper, have a nice meal, and relax with a beer in hand.

    Writing isn't always relaxing.

    Many people like the idea of having written--I'm one of them--but not every one is willing to commit the time to it. I use to be like this. This is neither a right or wrong decision. It's just a decision.

    I heard an interview one time with a published writer. He had a full time job which he had to commute to every day, a family, and put out thee books a year. Something had to give and that something was sleep. He said he only slept 4 hrs a night. After hearing that, I realised I had tons of time. I was just choosing to use it in other ways.

    Realising this, I started to make more conscious choices about how I was spending my time. I cut out the useless TV shows and video games. In fact, I cut out almost all TV and games for a couple of years. Now, I try to be more balanced about my choices. I usually try to do my writing for the day before I do anything else. Like I said it doesn't have to be much, but once that's done. I can spend the rest of my time doing what ever I want.

    Sometimes I write for an hour, a couple of hours, and sometimes i only write for fifteen minutes. As long as I got something done, I feel relatively good with my progress.

    Anytime I don't feel like writing, I take a moment and think do I really need the rest or am I just trying to avoid having to do work? Because if it's the latter, then there's no excuses. If I'm serious about getting published, I should get my ass into the chair. Otherwise I should stop fooling myself, and admit that I just don't want it bad enough. I should just write whenever I feel like it and not worry about long stretches of not writing.

    That's how I get myself into the chair.

    And by the way this post is 476 words long.
    Demesnedenoir and Russ like this.
  5. Peat

    Peat Sage

    Not hard to find examples of authors who made it working eight hour days. Guess its how most do it.

    What does the rest of your day look time budget wise?
  6. ALB2012

    ALB2012 Maester

    I end up writing at weekends and in the evening. Occasionally I sneak some writing time at work. I'm going to be better next year and spend time writing and not mucking about on FB
  7. Russ

    Russ Istar

    It certainly can be done.

    My wife works a full time job, and is now putting out a book a year in accordance with her contract.

    I have friends who work full time in many positions (including lawyer, doctor, various military roles) and manage to produce good work consistently.

    So the bottom line is in can be done.

    Finding time is the key. There are lots of ways to do that. Firstly, don't spend so much time on the internet (half joking here).

    My life, when running well has me at the gym or the office at 6 am, work to 5 or 6. Write from 8-10 every evening with bigger blocks on them weekends. Some people I know are disciplined enough to write at lunch or on breaks at work. Some lawyers I know and some famous writers have written while waiting at the courthouse for their case to be called. I can't do that.

    We tend to lose time, like money in lots of small ways were are not even aware of. So if you really are serious about adding to your writing time I would suggest you consider conducting a "time audit". Carry around a small notebook with you and write down what you do with your time all freaking day long. Do it for a couple of weeks and then look at it with a very critical eye and find things you can jettison or move around to give you enough time to write. IF you don't know where your time/money/calories are going now without some precision your adjustments will just be guesses, and they don't do you much good.

    Also realize that making time to write involves sacrifice. Time is a limited resource and something will have to give. I miss some of the time I have lost for reading or watching TV, but I find the writing rewarding enough that I am willing to make the sacrifice.
    Penpilot and Peat like this.
  8. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    Could do what Octavia Butler did when writing her first novel - write from like 2 AM to 6. Be gone for work for about 12 hours. Come home and eat, go to bed, get back up at 2 :)
  9. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    Or what Brandon Sanderson did. Get a job working overnight behind the front desk of a hotel and spend most of that time at work writing.

    I've actually worked that shift in a hotel, but writing while at work never entered my mind at the time. Was some time ago.
    Steerpike likes this.
  10. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    This is hard. I'm real sorry that you're having to go through this. It was me just a year and a half ago so I totally empathize. I worked at a restaurant (evening shifts mostly) for 6 years that was soul-sucking shitty. A lot of drama, both from coworkers and clientel. Long hours. Late hours. Exhausting work sometimes when, in the summer and holiday seasons, I could have upwards to 17 tables. Fantastic money but I hated EVERY bit of that place. I got injured working there and haven't been able to join the workforce again because my foot has been healing. My hours there were 4-1 or 2am, depending on the time of year and day of the week. It was even harder to write when my son was out of school for the summer and I was mainly the one watching him during the day. On weekends, when we had camping trips planned, I would write in a notebook and he didn't so much like that. In fact, he doesn't really like it when I leave him alone to write but these are little sacrifices we often need to make in order to provide a better future for our family (and really, he's alone like for an hour and he can Lego during that time lol).

    I would write during the day. I've always been an early riser, so I'd get up somewhere around 8-10ish on the days I worked late, get some breakfast in me then write until it was time for me to work. I did this everyday, 7 days a week. It ****ing sucked. You're right, it is draining. On the one hand you're providing for yourself/family but dying slowly inside.

    But there's only one option: WRITE and continue doing it. The writers who don't have work outside of writing are few and far between. Everyone else has an 8-5, right? So know that you are understood and supported. Keep at it. Write everyday. If you're trying to write for a living, then everyday it needs to be. Even if it's just 15 mins here and there or on your lunch break. Get a system going and do your best to stick to it. Just keep going and don't give up. One day you'll be out of that hellhole.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 19, 2016
  11. Tim Reed

    Tim Reed Dreamer

    Can empathise. I work full time 8.30am - 5pm and try and write in evenings and weekends. Distractions are everywhere so it's all about discipline - even if you write a few words, read some of your work or edit a couple of words, try and keep your hand in every day. I've gone long periods in the past where I've not written and getting back into a half-finished novel after such a break is horrendously hard.
  12. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    I've had a very zen bit of serendipity.

    Someone else in another thread in a different context mentioned Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig. Something to do with writing quality. I, largely ignorant of the reference (having only heard of the book once or twice before) did a web search and stumbled upon the Wikipedia article which had this to say about the writing of the book:

    In a 1974 interview with National Public Radio, Pirsig stated that the book took him four years to write. During two of these years, Pirsig continued working at his job of writing computer manuals. This caused him to fall into an unorthodox schedule, waking up very early and writing Zen from 2 a.m. until 6 a.m., then eating and going to his day job. He would sleep during his lunch break and then go to bed around 6 in the evening. Pirsig joked that his co-workers noticed that he was "a lot less perky" than everyone else.​

    Very zen.
  13. Turn off all your social media, delete all your apps, and watch no TV. See where that gets you.

    For me, Facebook is a huge time sink. I really need to quit facebook sometime...
    visually_alert likes this.
  14. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    Fortunatly I have no Facebook habt to kick, I loathe it. My big temptation has always been MMORPG's for wasting time, all the way back to MUDs. Oh, if I had those hours back... and the money back from the bar hopping too... hmm. Anyhow, these days with wife and kids and business, I don't do tv... it's taken me three years to get half way through Sons of Anarchy on Netflix for crying outloud. The tv is on, the kids or wife are watching... but I'm not really there much of the time, LOL. A perverse fascination with politics ate much time this year, but I will call that research, heh heh.

    But like everybody has said, when people say they don't have time, it typically means they aren't willing to sacrifice to get things done. And I get that, by God do I. Knocking out a novel is hard enough, and then the time to polish and refine, when there are other things to do (like sleep!) is a struggle. And worse when you aren't confident enough in your writing to see all that work getting you anywhere, which is the normal state of mind for a writer.
  15. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    Being brain-dead after a long day at work doesn't help, either. Especially with a television handy, already programmed to attend to the brain-dead.

    I won't allow myself to feel particularly bad about vegging out on television, some nights.

    Although, the idea of rising very early to write before work is probably good for this very reason.
  16. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I recommend Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It was fashionable for a while to make fun of it, but I found the story fascinating, and the writing was solid. I love its lessons about how to solve a problem by not thinking about it, the devastating question of "what is quality?", and the whole notion of discovering one has had an entirely different existence. I still plan to steal that last one for a story some time.
    visually_alert likes this.
  17. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    It's hard quitting video games, lol. I have finally...finally...gotten to the point where I choose to clean/write extra/do something productive whenever I get the urge to game. I've been more productive lately, which is great, but I miss the fun, too. But everytime I give in, I realize what a waste of time it is.

    I did finally quit Facebook though. Woop! Still have Pinterest but I use it for my story boards (platform) and am only on it a couple times a week.

    Also, parenting is a full-time job. So, if you have kids + work then really, you have two full-time jobs. My kid is 9 and going through a clingy faze. I've stopped questioning and started accepting. We make it work. Lol.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 19, 2016
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  18. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    From looking at your avatar, did... did you give up the call of the wasteland? What if Preston Garvey and the Minutemen came calling with a mission? :p
  19. Nobby

    Nobby Sage

    Or, possibly, don't count words on the processor. I worked swing shift twelve hours shredding flipping plastic waste and they were the most productive you can imagine.
  20. Nobby

    Nobby Sage

    Idea wise, anyway :D

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