Don’t Quit Your Day Job: How to Balance Work and Writing

Man Walking a Tightrope in Front of the Sun

If you have a full-time job, chances are that you’re so worn out at the end of the day that you don’t feel much like working on your novel. You don’t have enough time or energy. You’ll never do it. You know what? That’s crazy. You can do it. Here’s how.

Try the Nifty 350

I just read an amazing post by author Chuck Wendig that recommends writing at least 350 words every day. That’s it. 350. How easy it that? No matter how busy or tired you are, I’m sure you can manage to write 350 words. Keep that momentum and you’ll have drafted a novel within a year. The best part? That’s with weekends off!

Utilize Pauses

Men Taking a Break from Work to Sit Outside and Smoke

If you feel pressed for time, look for pockets of rest scattered throughout the day. Waiting rooms, lines, bathrooms, and children’s dance recitals (joking) are excellent places to work on your story. Make sure you have a notebook or smartphone with you to capture thoughts on the go.

Stop Making Excuses

When it comes down to it, if you really want to write a novel, you’ll make it a priority. You’ll move heaven and earth to get those ideas down on paper. Trust me on this one.

Alter Your Routine

Sunrise Over the Ocean Waves and Beach

Can you wake up earlier or stay up later? You might have to change your schedule if you’re serious about writing. Figure out what time works best for you and set and alarm or have a cup of coffee. You can do it.

Stay Motivated

Whether it’s by tracking your progress or rewarding your work, find a way to keep your spirits up so you’ll keep writing. You’re less likely to lose interest if you’re properly motivated.

Writing a novel while holding down a job isn’t easy, but it can be done. If you have drive, passion, and flexibility, you can make it happen. Got more tips for balancing work and writing? Have an idea for a post? Leave a comment below.

Social Media

The Importance of Building a Writing Community

I received a request to do a blog post detailing all the reasons why you should make friends with other writers. This post will definitely go into those reasons, but I want to focus more on ways to build that community based on my personal experience. The bottom line is as follows: if you are a writer, you should join with other writers. They are the only people in the world who truly understand you. The right writing community will laugh with you, cry with you, and scream into the night with you (not too loudly; you’ll wake the neighbors). A good group can mean the difference between success and failure. Community for writers is invaluable.

You might not yet be sold on the idea of coming together with other writers. “It’s a solitary craft,” I hear you whine, “why in the world should I talk to anybody?” Here are some benefits to joining a community of writers:

  • Mentorship
  • Critique
  • Promotion
  • Inspiration
  • Motivation
  • Support
  • Discipline…

… and many, many more. I could go on for days about how becoming a member of a writing community has helped me, but it’s better if you can see it firsthand. Let’s say you’re psyched. You want to meet with other writers to discuss issues of plot and elements of style. So how can you create or join a community?

Be active on social media. ESPECIALLY TWITTER. Seriously, people. Twitter changed my life. I’ve made so many writing friends on there that I almost can’t believe it. Feel free to follow me and we can live it up. If you have social media accounts, make sure you use them! And often! No one likes an inactive user. Tweet, reply, mention, direct, message, or whatever it takes to keep up with the Kardashians (kidding, of course, because none of them are writers).

Ask for nothing. I mean it. Don’t tweet at people asking them to read your stuff over and over again, especially if you’ve never had a normal conversation. Don’t ask people to buy everything you put out. Don’t obsess over self-promotion. That’s a massive turn-off. Just be you. Focus on building relationships and you’ll find that plenty of people will be interested in your work.

Do nice things for other people. This tip goes hand in hand with not asking for anything. When it comes to flourishing in a community, you need to give more than you receive. Help people out. Be a good human being. Remember the Golden Rule? Yeah, it’s time you use it. The nicer you are to other writers, the more likely it is that they’ll return the favor.

Reach out. If you’ve got a question or need advice about something, don’t be afraid to ask! Sometimes all you need is some encouragement. That’s where community comes in. I’ve had so many questions answered by my friends on Twitter, and I’m eternally grateful for their help. Don’t feel embarrassed to reach out for help! Everyone’s been there at one point or another.

It’s not that hard to meet and interact with other writers. As long as you follow my tips, focus on being genuine, and use your manners, you’ll be just fine.

What do you think of these tips? How has joining a community helped you and your writing?

How to Get Writing Done When You Can’t Shut the Door

In an ideal world we would all have spaces dedicated to writing. We’d have rooms or closets or storage spaces where would could close the door. We could physically separate ourselves from the world. Nothing would distract us from doing the work.

I’m writing this from the living room of my grandma’s house. It’s impossible to close myself off while I’m here. If I go into another room, someone follows and strikes up a conversation. Every single time. Without fail.

Sometimes it’s not possible to go somewhere and write, with a physical door between you and your surroundings. Like right now, for instance. I’m stuck in the living room. Luckily, I have a few tips to help you focus even when you can’t shut the door for some reason.

Use music as a form of “shutting the door.” If you can’t get somewhere private, turn on Pandora and plug in some headphones. Even if you’re not playing anything, most people will leave you alone if you’re wearing headphones. Turn the music up and you won’t hear anyone. It’ll be easier to get lost in your own little world.

Write when people are sleeping. I stayed up late last night to get some writing done. If you’re a morning person, try to rise before the sun. When the house is quiet, it’s easier to concentrate. The best part? No one else will be awake enough to bother you.

Communicate. Tell your friends and loved ones how much writing means to you. If they love you, they’ll understand when you tell them you need to set aside time for your work. You can even schedule time to hang out with them later so they know they’ll get to see you. Honesty and openness can get you a long way.

While all of these methods have worked for me before, I’ve found that nothing beats getting behind a closed door. Feel free to try some of these. If you don’t like them, move on. Find what works for you. What matters is that you write, not how you get the writing done.

What do you think?

On Facing Fear

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now, but I haven’t had the courage. This post is honest, frank, and uncomfortable. I’m going to reveal something about myself that I’m not proud of. In doing so, I hope I can inspire someone else who might be struggling with similar issues.

What am I talking about?

I’m talking about fear.

A year or so ago, I finished the first draft of my manuscript. I put it away. I let it breathe. I wanted to put some distance between the novel and me so I could view it objectively the next time we saw each other.

I had planned to start revisions this past May, but you know what?

My fear and apprehension had other plans.

As of writing this post, the only step I’ve taken in the revision process is the read-through. I’ve made some notes, but I haven’t gone through with any changes. Why?

Because I’m terrified.

I’m afraid once I start cutting, there will be nothing left. I’m afraid I’ll never make this novel concept work. I’m afraid it won’t be good—no, more than that, I’m afraid it will suck.

When it comes right down to it, I’m afraid of failure.

Let me tell you something—it’s okay to be afraid. In fact, it’s normal. The issue with fear is that it can keep you from achieving your goals if you don’t rise up to challenge it. I realized recently that I’ll never accomplish the very thing I’ve been dreaming of (publication) if I don’t, for lack of a better phrase, suck it up and move on. If I want to finish this novel, I have to face my fears.

And you know what? Moving forward scares me more than I can say, but I’m doing it anyway. I’m pushing ahead.

In writing this blog post, I’m hoping you all will hold me accountable. That means more to me than you can know.

I’m facing my fear. Why don’t you face yours?

Go on. Write something.

Liebster Award Nomination

liebster-award I hadn’t heard of the Liebster Award before the lovely Jess at Like Star Filled Skies nominated me. Here’s the lowdown:

1) Post the Liebster Award graphic on your site.
2) Thank the blogger who nominated your blog.
3) Answer the 10 questions from the post of the person who nominated them.
4) The nominee will nominate 10 other blogs who have less than 200 followers.
5) The nominee will then create 10 questions of their own for their nominated bloggers to answer in their Liebster post.

Here are the questions from Jess:

1) What is your favorite fruit?

Strawberries, without a doubt.

2) If you could be any superhero you wanted, who would it be?

Black Widow because she’s a baller.

3) What one book could you read over and over again?

The Great Gatsby. And trust me, I have.

4) If you could own any exotic animal you wanted, what would it be?

A tiger!

5) Favorite sport to watch on television?

I can only tolerate sports when the Olympics are on. With that being said, I don’t mind watching soccer.

6) How would you describe your style?

Bohemian with edgy touches.

7) What 3 things would you like to do before you die?

Publish a novel, travel all throughout Europe, have children.

8) If you could move anywhere other than where you live now, where would that place be?

London.

9) Favorite book? Why?

Ohhh this is going to be a tough one. I’m caught between Gatsby and Nineteen Eighty-Four because both are timeless and I also find something new no matter how many times I read them.

10) As a kid, what did you always want to be when you grew up?

A dolphin trainer or an artist. SURPRISE, PAST ME.

Now, part of the challenge involves me tagging other people. but I’m not sure who to tag. If you want to participate, you can answer these questions and link back to my post:

1) What’s your favorite season? Why?

2) How many languages do you know?

3) What’s your earliest memory?

4) Who are your favorite authors?

5) What’s your favorite quote and where does it come from?

6) What’s your most irrational fear?

7) How do you feel about rain?

8) Tell me one short-term goal and one long-term goal.

9) If you could invite any three people to dinner, living or dead, who would they be?

10) Favorite time of day?

Feel free to answer these!

Tweet tweet:

Writer @thecollegenov answers questions for the Liebster Award. Want to join in? Click the link for your chance! (Click to tweet)

Turn Off the Television!

I have a confession to make.

I’m addicted to television.

I’m a die-hard follower and fan of several shows current and ended. When I get home from work, I go straight to Netflix or cable TV. I even have a DVR set to record certain shows so I don’t miss them when they air.

With that being said, I dedicate time to daily writing. It can be hard to sit down and get to work after a full day on the job, but I make it happen. It gets easier once I’ve started.

Unless I turn on the TV.

I cannot focus if I turn on the TV. Sometimes I trick myself into thinking that the background noise will help me; that it won’t be overwhelming. “I’ll turn the volume down,” I tell myself. “I won’t even watch. I’ll just have it on.” You know what? It never works. I don’t get as much done when I have the television on–even if it’s tuned into something I don’t care about.

Some writers can work with the television on. The problem comes happens when you come home from work or school, turn on Netflix, and spend two hours or more binge-watching something instead of writing. We’re writers, after all, and writers write.

Watching TV isn’t writing. Commit to putting in some work before turning on the television. That way, you’ll accomplish something and have the rest of the evening to relax, free of guilt.

Go on now. Write something.

Taking Stock 02

Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor in Doctor Who

City of Atlanta skyline

parakeets kissing

galaxy print leggings

So much for making this a weekly feature. Maybe I’ll aim for biweekly instead. We’ll see what happens. Is anybody reading these posts, anyway?

Here’s what’s going on in my life these days.

Writing : MUD EYES (revision – neverending revision)
Listening : To coffitivity
Drinking : Iced coffee with nondairy caramel macchiato creamer (mmmmm)
Reading: On Writing by Stephen King
Wanting: A plan for the future
Looking: For a place to throw this gum away
Playing: The Sims (I wish)
Deciding: Whether I should take a shower yet or not
Wishing: I could play The Sims
Enjoying: The revision process, although it’s difficult
Waiting: For my novel to turn out perfect (WHEN DOES THAT HAPPEN)
Liking: The fact that my cat likes to hang out in my bedroom while I draft blog posts
Wondering: Why Starbucks released its Pumpkin Spice Latte so early
Loving: The fact that Starbucks released its Pumpkin Spice Latte so early
Pondering: the future
Considering: Peter Capaldi
Watching: DOCTOR WHO
Hoping: To one day master a Scottish accent
Marvelling: At the richness of dark chocolate
Needing: Another homemade cookie
Smelling: Clean clothes
Wearing: A dress from Forever 21
Following: My own path
Noticing: The way my eyes crinkle at the corners when I smile
Knowing: I can do anything
Thinking: About Halloween
Feeling: Limitless
Admiring: Myself, inside and out
Sorting: Through my many options
Buying: Lots of books lately
Getting: Anxious and excited
Bookmarking: All the dairy-free recipes I can find
Disliking: The radio station that plays in Office Max (still)
Opening: My mind to unfamiliar ideas
Giggling: Do I need a reason?
Feeling: Hopeful

What do you think of this feature? Do you want to take stock, too?