Juggling many tasks is more frequently the rule than the exception when associated with the writing field. What happens when one of those tasks is as significant as book writing? The goal of producing a book may seem like a difficult nut to crack to someone who already works as a full-time writer for journalism, content development, scriptwriting, or any other specialized field. Maintaining the momentum and caliber of routine writing duties while bringing a book’s pages to life, which calls for a special kind of attention, imagination, and passion, presents two challenges.
Time management, mental agility, unshakable ambition, and a defined plan are requirements for juggling the dynamic interaction between work dedication and personal aspiration. This manual will go in-depth on striking this balance, ensuring the scales of professional duty are perfectly aligned with personal dreams.
Suggested Read: How to Create a Journal to Sell on Amazon KDP
How to Write a Book While Working Full-Time: Eight Basic Strategies
Your daily grind should include meeting deadlines, creating fascinating storylines, and adjusting to various styles. But it’s like trying to feed two birds with one stone as you start your book-writing journey and manage full-time tasks. The dynamics may be advantageous, so consider the insightful strategies discussed below.
1- Establishing a Writing Routine:
A full-time writer already has a writing routine in place. This structured approach can be a significant asset when incorporating book writing into the schedule. Do not forget to create a plan for your writing in which there is no disturbance. You should evaluate that period, and it should be the most productive time of your creativity.
2- Maintaining a Writing Diary:
For writing a book while working full-time, you will need to track the workflow of your daily tasks. Assigning daily tasks of specific word count to be achieved in a day to be consistent enough to gather your thoughts on a plate bit by bit would be an effective strategy.
3- Having a Notebook at the Ready:
Keeping a notepad with yourself is a handy practice that will help you note your life’s most precious moments throughout the day. Whether you are working in a different role, driving a car, making coffee for your colleague, or playing football games with your children. There is always something beautiful happening in your life every time, you just need to pick that up and add that moment to your life’s reel.
4- Conquering Writer’s Block:
Before diving into a writing session, close your eyes and imagine a symbol or scene that represents the project. This mental image is an anchor, grounding you in the specific project’s essence and boundaries. Visualize a box or container for each project. When switching tasks, mentally place the current project back into its box and open a new one.
5- Forming a Writing Support Network:
Create different user accounts on your computer for various projects. This ensures that as you log into a specific version, you’re greeted with resources and settings tailored to that project, minimizing distractions. While one software might be excellent for short-form writing, another might be more suited for book writing. Tools like Scrivener, for instance, are adapted for long-form writing, helping organize chapters, notes, and references. Maintain distinct folders for each project. This helps manage resources, drafts, and final versions, ensuring that files from one project don’t get mixed up with another, reducing confusion and saving time.
6- Usage of Technology
In today’s digital age, numerous tools are available for writers to keep track of their work. Platforms like Trello or Asana can help manage tasks, deadlines, and progress. Regularly updating these can clearly show where you stand with each project. Consider using visual indicators like progress bars or charts.
Being able to see your advancement can be motivating and provide clarity. For instance, a wall chart marking chapters completed in your book can be both a reminder and an inspiration. Each chapter, article, or milestone is closer to your goal. Recognize these moments. Whether finishing a challenging chapter or submitting a professional piece before the deadline, appreciate your achievements.
7- Input and Feedback:
Just as each writing project has its unique voice, having different reviewers for different works can offer fresh insights. A trusted colleague might be great for professional pieces, while a fellow writer or book club member might be more apt for your book. Different sets of eyes can catch varied nuances and provide feedback tailored to the nature of the project.
While external opinions are invaluable, knowing when to seek them is essential. Getting feedback too early might divert your original vision, while waiting too long could mean more significant revisions. Find a rhythm that works for you—perhaps after every chapter or several pages. And in the end, you are a writer, there will be times when feedback conflicts with your vision. In such moments, weigh the advice, consider its merits, and trust your instincts. Sometimes, the most authentic part of our writing is to trust your gut.
8- Staying Committed
Letting your employer or client know about your side project is vital. Keeping them in the loop can prevent misunderstandings and ensure that both sides respect each other’s commitments. Everyone has certain times of the day when they’re most productive or creative. Find yours and clarify that you focus solely on your book during these hours.
Tips on Writing when you have a full-time job
1- Separate Workspaces for Full-Time Writers:
Every writer knows that the environment is crucial to the creative process. When juggling multiple writing assignments, including a book, delineating physical and virtual spaces can act as a catalyst, aiding concentration and enhancing productivity. Here’s a closer look at why separate workspaces matter and how to implement them.
The Psychological Shift:
- Mindset and Environment: Our brains associate specific environments with certain activities. By having distinct spaces for different projects, we train our minds to switch gears, entering the right mindset as we move from one area to another.
- Minimizing Overwhelm: Separating workspaces can also reduce feelings of being overwhelmed. When each project has its designated space, focusing on one thing at a time becomes more accessible, reducing anxiety and boosting productivity.
Physical Space Alterations:
- Changing Rooms: If possible, dedicate separate rooms or sections of a room for different writing tasks. For instance, book writing could be done in a quiet study, while other assignments could be tackled in a livelier part of the house.
- Adjusting Lighting: The lighting can set the mood. Warm, soft lighting might suit reflective, profound book writing, while brighter lights can energize faster-paced projects.
- Personal Touches: Different projects might resonate with different aesthetics. Personalizing each workspace with inspiring quotes, images, or objects related to the specific project can further enhance the association and motivation.
Virtual Space Changes:
- Separate User Accounts: Create different user accounts on your computer for various projects. This ensures that as you log into a specific version, you’re greeted with resources and settings tailored to that project, minimizing distractions.
- Dedicated Writing Software: While one software might be excellent for short-form writing, another might be more suited for book writing. Tools like Scrivener, for instance, are adapted for long-form writing, helping organize chapters, notes, and references.
- Project-Specific Digital Folders: Maintain distinct folders for each project. This helps organize resources, drafts, and final versions, ensuring that files from one project don’t get mixed up with another, reducing confusion and saving time.
2- Mental Segmentation:
In the bustling life of a writer, especially one with a full-time writing job, it’s a challenge to manage multiple projects without the risk of their themes, tones, or ideas overlapping. Mental segmentation is a technique to mentally compartmentalize each task, ensuring the clarity and distinctiveness of each project. Here’s how to master this art:
- Before diving into a writing session, close your eyes and imagine a symbol or scene that represents the project. This mental image is an anchor, grounding you in the specific project’s essence and boundaries.
- Visualize a box or container for each project. When switching tasks, mentally place the current project back into its box and open a new one.
- Curate a playlist that mirrors the mood or setting of your project. This sets the tone and is an audio anchor, reminding you of the project’s unique atmosphere.
- Commit to playing these playlists only when working on the respective project to maintain their cueing power.
Transition Rituals Between Projects:
- Engage in a short, unrelated activity between different writing tasks. This could be a quick walk, stretching, or even making tea. The goal is to signal to the brain that one study has ended, and another is about to begin.
- Practice a minute of mindfulness or deep breathing when transitioning, consciously acknowledging the shift from one project to another.
3- Diversifying Inspiration:
Every writer, irrespective of genre or medium, draws from a personal reservoir of inspiration. But it’s crucial to avoid draining this well when tasked with multiple projects, especially a book alongside other assignments. By diversifying the sources of inspiration, writers can maintain a constant inflow of fresh ideas for each project, ensuring quality and originality.
- Travel: A short trip to a nearby town can offer a fresh setting, character ideas, or cultural insights. If feasible, immerse yourself in different cultures or landscapes to enrich your narrative palette.
- People-Watching: Spend an afternoon at a park, café, or transport hub. Observing people, their interactions, mannerisms, and conversations can spark character developments, dialogues, or plot twists.
Workshops & Classes:
- Writing Retreats: Join a weekend or week-long writing retreat. Being in a new environment with fellow writers can stimulate creativity and provide fresh feedback.
- New Skill Classes: Enroll in a pottery class, learn a new instrument, or dive into a dance workshop. Acquiring new skills or experiences can directly or indirectly influence your writing.
Time Management Strategies for Full-Time Writers:
Managing time efficiently is pivotal for a writer juggling multiple projects, especially when one of those is writing a book. Among the myriad of time management techniques, here are two that have proven to be especially effective:
1. The Chunking Method:
The idea behind chunking is to divide your day into distinct, dedicated blocks of time, each allocated to a specific task or project. Focusing solely on one study during its designated chunk prevents the cognitive drain of multitasking and improves overall productivity.
- Dedicated Writing Sessions: Assign specific times of day for different writing endeavors. For instance, mornings could be for book writing, afternoons for client projects, and evenings for editing or research.
- Varied Task Lengths: Understand that not all tasks require the same time. Adjust chunk lengths based on the nature of the task – a challenging chapter might need a longer-lasting block than a simple email response.
- Buffer Zones: Keeping some chunks of time as buffers is essential. These can be used for unplanned tasks, overflows, or to take a break and recharge.
2. The Pomodoro Technique:
Developed by Francesco Cirillo, this technique involves breaking work into intervals (usually 25 minutes), known as “Pomodoro,” followed by short breaks. After completing four Pomodoro, you take a more extended break.
- Focused Writing Intervals: Use each Pomodoro to write without distractions. Knowing there’s a break coming up can motivate you to stay focused during the work interval.
- Breaks for Refreshment: Utilize the short breaks to stretch, hydrate, or do a quick, non-writing-related task. The longer breaks post-four pomodoro can be used for extended relaxation or reading.
- Task Segmentation: If writing a particular chapter or section is expected to take three Pomodoro, it gives a clear structure and time frame to the task, making it less daunting.
- Track Progress: Using Pomodoro can help gauge how long particular writing tasks take, aiding in better time estimation in the future.
Every writer has obstacles, but creating a book while juggling other full-time obligations is admirable. The journey may appear complicated, but it shapes you and instills the virtues of discipline, patience, and fortitude in you. You produce a finished work, which is evidence of your perseverance, and you also learn skills beyond writing for the pages. Your professional job can benefit from these newly developed skills, making you a more skilled and adaptable writer. So, while you handle the two obligations, keep your eyes on the prize while appreciating the priceless lessons and experiences you pick up along the road. Your personal and professional development is indeed a legitimate reward.
Can you write a novel while working full-time?
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a daily writer to finish a novel. You might be surprised by how much writing time you can squeeze into a full-time job.
Can I be a writer with a full-time job?
It is possible to maintain a full-time job and still progress your writing. Every day, if you want to! Here are a few of my very own tips to help you to find the balance for everything you want to fit in.
Can I write a book while working in a company?
This depends on your work agreement/contract. I suspect the company owns any intellectual property you create or contribute during employment. Check with your manager or HR department. They may allow you to publish or even publish it for or with you.
How many hours needed to write a book?
It takes at least 120 hours to write a book correctly. Of course, some things like marketing the book will be longer, because you don’t just sell a book once and forget about it!
Is writing a novel stressful?
Writing and publishing a book can be a highly stressful experience. But, it doesn’t have to be. One of the best aspects of self-publishing is that you get to make all the decisions. And how much stress to take on is one of them.
Is 40 too late to write a book?
40 is not too late to write a book. It is an ideal age to write a book about yourself because you can reflect on your all-time experiences sitting on a couch without having any job responsibilities because, generally, at the age of 40, people retired from their duties.
How do you balance a full-time job and writing?
You can balance your full-time job with writing by creating a proper plan and being persistent enough to follow that plan. Every step matters as motivation comes after achieving several milestones.