How to Juggle Writing with a Full-Time Career

For those of you whose full-time career is already writing, congratulations! Meanwhile, the rest of us wish we could be you. So the question is, how can juggle writing with a full-time career?

Many writers, especially at the beginning of their careers, don’t make enough (or sometimes any) money from their writing to pay the bills, gas up the car, or keep a family fed, even if that family is just the writer and a dog. Which means that although it would be lovely to write every second of every day and get out all the ideas knocking around inside, most of the week is already chained to a 9–5 job that keeps the fridge stocked. That’s a lot of time for a career and not so much time for writing, until at last the writer, who feels less and less like a “writer” every day, must ask, “When will I ever have time to write again?”

How do all these other writers do what they love without letting their careers suffer? Was there a guidebook handed out on this subject matter and one day you missed that class? The truth is that everyone juggles their careers and writing differently, and the best way to be a writer and maintain a full-time job is to sacrifice and schedule.

Oh, and if there were a guide, it would probably look something like this:

Don’t Write Every Day

Do Write at Least Every Other Day

Make the Writing Count

Set Relaxation Limits

The best way to circulate these things is to find more productive ways to spend your relaxation time. Once again, for those writers who go to the gym for relaxation, one suggestion is to bring a book along and read it while you’re on the treadmill. An even easier way to do this is to exercise with an audiobook playing. If you don’t like to exercise and read, and instead you prefer to cook and socialize, throw a dinner party once a week and cook for your guests.

Make the most of your brief relaxation periods, and you’ll find that you can limit them and yet still get what you need out of them.

Commute Differently

For riders (trains, taxis, buses): Try using this time to write in a little notebook or on your laptop computer. Many trains have compartments with little tables-try and snag these if you can; otherwise, learn how to turn your lap into a table. If you’d rather relax, then do something relaxing which will later help your writing, such as researching details for your book on your phone, reading or listening to a book, lying back and meditating on your story, or even looking out the window and imagining the entire life of some passing stranger.

For drivers: Surprisingly, you can safely juggle writing while you’re driving, but not in a way you might think. Many writers prefer to sit back and dictate to a computer or recorder while they’re doing other things and later go back and transcribe the writing they did audibly. If you use a text-to-speech app when recording, you can speed things up by emailing the file to yourself and copying it into your book file. Generally, “writing” by audio requires more editing, but you definitely have more to work with than if you had recorded nothing. It is always easier to edit something that is already written, and often you’ll be surprised at the great things that come out of your mouth! If you don’t think this is your style, then take the productive relaxation route and listen to a book or a podcast.

Don’t Make Writing Your Job

Tie in Your Career

The point is, take a step back and allow your worlds to coexist; they do not have to be independent of each other. Whatever connections you build between writing and career, it will help you in the process of juggling both fields.

Originally published at on August 21, 2018.

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