I want to blog about the difficulties of finding time to write while working a full-time job. Most everyone has to work for a living, and few of us can claim a living as a fiction writer. Sounds like a dream, right? Imagine what George R.R. Martin feels like when he sits down to the keyboard these days. I was lucky for a few years in that, through a disability settlement, I had a steady income and wasn’t allowed to work. So I made writing my full-time job. I probably only made a penny a day, if that, but I wasn’t laboring under any sort of pressure.
Well, that all changed recently when my settlement ended and I had to put my social work degree to use and find gainful employment. I have found a place at a wonderful organization full of wonderful people. One problem? I’ve written maybe a few hundred words in the past few weeks, subbed some stories, and did a bit of editing. That’s it, and that’s not enough.
There are extenuating circumstances. I have a variable schedule–some days I have normal hours, and other days it shifts to afternoon/evenings. This leaves me chunks of free time in the mornings some days, and in the evenings others; two days a week I have late nights and early mornings, which makes it super difficult to carve out writing time. I strain my eyes a lot at work. I’m also diabetic and have been running a high blood sugar level (my own fault), so exhaustion factors in.
Still, I have no excuse for not writing more. I’m not married, don’t have kids or roommates, nor do I have sick relatives to care for. I have social commitments, but those are fun things. My problem is that, when I had all the time in the world, I was able to procrastinate before I got started, stop for breaks whenever I wanted, and set my own schedule. No longer. I do have time to write, now; I just have to identify it and push myself to work outside the boundaries of work. It may feel like a chore, but I can’t not write. That just wouldn’t do for me.
I personally know people who have written and published not just a novel or story here or there, but whole series’, all while married with children and full-time careers. Those people also lead rich lives on top of all their commitments. The key for them is structure, managing their schedule, a strong work ethic, and perseverance. I have to brush off these long-forgotten concepts and make them my allies. Now, some of these people are members of a 5am writing club. I’m not that dedicated! Even so, I can burn the midnight oil sometimes, if that’s what it takes.
This is less a blog post with writing advice and more a personal statement of intent. I needed to crystallize my thoughts about my work/writing balance, and in sharing them, I hope I’ve been able to say a few helpful things for my fellow writers.