The Work / Writing Juggling Act

You CAN become a writer even when you have a full time job!

I am proud to announce that I have just released my first book.

My second completed book is sitting with my editor, and I'm halfway through the first draft of my third book. I'm not telling you this to boast (although a pat on the back would be nice). I'm telling you this to show you that it IS possible to become an author when you're already working full time.

I've been talking about my dream of becoming a novelist for far too many years, and I didn't become one this year because I had more time. If anything, I've had less time this year than I've ever had in my life. I started my own business over three years ago and have since started getting to my desk at 6.30am, working evenings and squeezing work into every spare hour on the weekend. I complain a lot, but I love it and at least I'm busy because I want to be busy and not because someone is telling me to. But that's a blog post for another day. All I'm saying is that I became a writer at the busiest time in my life. If I could only have had the determination and dedication to start this years ago (when I actually knew what a weekend was), I would have a whole list of books ready to publish.

So what made this year different to all the others?

1. I decided I wanted to be a writer.

For the first time, I didn't just say it was a dream of mine to become a writer. Instead, I actively made the decision to become one. I'd think up ideas, I'd start writing, and I'd tell people that I was working towards my novel. As soon as I held myself accountable for it, I began actually pursuing it.

2. I rubbed shoulders with like-minded people.

I joined a writers group on Facebook. Without a doubt, this was the biggest step for me, and to this day it remains my favourite hangout on Facebook. A big shout out to The Dragon Writers. Just having people to talk to when I needed inspiration, encouragement or answers was a huge help. No matter how amazing my friends and family are, nobody can truly understand what you are going through unless they do it themselves.

3. I joined NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Here, on the 1st November each year, people from all over the world pledge to write 50,000 words towards their novel. Valuing enthusiasm, determination and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel. I joined in 2016, and it marked a huge shift in thinking towards my writing career. The novel I completed during that time is still sitting in a folder on my computer and might never see the light of day, but I gained a lot of experience in the art of writing a novel. I truly believe that my writing is better because of it.

4. I made the time for it.

So, this is the big one - finding the time to write when you're too busy to do it. Unfortunately, if you want to become a novelist, you are going to have to make time for it regardless of your schedule. This can mean different things to different people. Maybe you'll have to get up an hour earlier and squeeze your writing in before work. Maybe you're a night owl, and you find that life is quieter in the dark. Perhaps you write a little throughout the day. Try different things and see what works for you. For me, it helps having a goal. At the moment I set myself a goal of roughly 1k a day. Sometimes I write more, sometimes I only get out 100 words. For me, it's about consistency. I simply don't have the time to write whenever inspiration takes hold of me, so I set aside time for writing each day (ten minutes or one hour - it all adds up in the end). But don't be hard on yourself. Some days really will be tougher than other days, and if you don't want to write that day, then don't.

5. Learn the trade.

Immerse yourself in the writing world. Read fiction (hey, that's studying, right?), read non-fiction (especially books about writing), read blogs on writing, learn all there is about both traditional and indie publishing and decide which one you want to pursue. Talk to other authors, talk to newbie writers, write, rewrite, edit, write again.

Most of all, have fun. Realise it's not all going to be smooth sailing, that not everyone is going to like what you do, that it's damn hard work. But through all of it, enjoy the process. Isn't that why you became a writer in the first place? Don't lose sight of what's important.

Lastly, I have to mention that while I'm busy, I don't have children. For that, I turned to two authors I absolutely love who have become writers while having kids. I asked them what their advice was for becoming a writer while having a family to look after .

Meet Melissa Delport, author and mom.

My advice, if you want to be a writer and you have children, is to find a day job where you aren’t under constant supervision and write there. Without telling anyone, because, you know – you might get fired. It’ll be quiet, peaceful, and a productive environment, which is easier than trying to drown out the chaos.

If you must write at home, you will need the following: Ear-plugs, double-locks on your door, and a remarkable sense of humour. Also, wine. Cry on the inside, like a winner, and remember, your kids might be the most awful distraction during the writing process, but they’ll be your biggest supporters after. They WILL tell people you are famous even when you’re not, so people assume you’re an arrogant tart, and they WILL offer up FREE copies of your books to everyone they meet, including, but not limited to: teachers, parents of friends, and the lady at the petrol garage who gives them stickers. It’s awesome. Good luck!

Meet J.T. Lawrence, author and mom

MOUNTAINS ARE CLIMBED ONE STEP AT A TIME Like anything that is good for you, you need to make space and time for writing. Sure, the idea of writing a book is intimidating. If you leave it till you’re in the mood, you won’t write half as much as someone who schedules it in. If you don’t entrench it as a daily habit you’ll lurch from commitment to commitment and be distracted by being ‘busy’, and all the while your time to do real work will evaporate in front of your sleep-deprived eyeballs. ‘Busy’ is a trap. Don’t make excuses. Prioritise the work. Get the words down. Every day, get the words down, and soon you’ll realise that the mountain that was towering before you is actually now beneath you, and there is a new mountain to climb.

So, what are you waiting for? WRITE