Hey folks, CP here to give you a new segment that will be occuring every once-and-a-while. I’ve politely asked some of my author friends to write some guest articles for TFF. Articles that specifically apply to their personal situations as authors. The first of these articles has been done by my dear friend Sarah Cawkwell, the “newest” to-be-published author for BL Publishing. Her book The Gildar Rift is sure to be a hum-dinger! I’ll provide a link at the bottom of the page where you can preorder it. without further adieu, Sarah Cawkwell on managing writing and still having a full-time 40hr a week job!
The twenty-seven hour day isn’t a thing of mythology. It’s real. It’s here and it’s very much now. At least, when you work full time in a 40 hour a week job and also write part-time, it feels like it is. Every day is an action packed adventure in juggling deadlines and…
Who am I kidding? I am the best procrastinator I know. I’m so good at it, that I’m going to write the definitive guide. When I can be bothered.
As an author still so new to the writing world that my labels are still attached, there are frequently times when I actually take a step back and start to wonder exactly how it is that I can keep myself going. What we shall loosely call ‘the day job’ is pretty busy and there’s not a lot of room for taking a few minutes for navel contemplating. OK, there’s some room, but it’s rare. And when those lulls in the work aspect come up, you’re too grateful to get to the kitchen and make coffee to think of anything else.
So, people have started asking me: ‘how on earth did you manage to write a novel whilst working full time and having a full time family to boot’?
Well, here’s the core piece of evidence.
I am great at Time Management.
Actually, this is a lie. I’m shocking at Time Management. I used to train courses in the thing, so I have a great grasp of the principles. But I’m essentially lazy and so I make lists of lists. At the top of every list I’ve ever started is ‘make a to-do list’. I suspect that I have trapped myself in a recursive list loop. I am going to keep going round and round until the universe implodes with a sad little ‘pop’ sound.
In essence, it’s pretty straightforward. Here is a typical weekday in Sarah-land. When I break it down like this, it’s alarming just how much of a routine I generally have.
6.30am – Alarm clock goes off.
Between 6.30 and 7.30am – get up, washed, dressed, breakfasted and out the door.
7.35am – generally remember I’ve forgotten something, like my purse, phone or pass for the security lock and turn round to fetch it.
7.40am – leave for a second time.
8.00am – arrive at work, where I remain until between 3.30 and 4pm on a good day. On a Thursday, due to the fact I have the MEGA MEETING OF DOOM, this can sometimes see me staying at work until gone 6pm. But for the sake of this article, let’s assume I finish at 4pm.
4.30pm – Get home with great intentions of getting started on some writing. Turn on PC. Make cup of tea, get changed, sit down and go through the forum round up.
7.00pm – Realise that the Internet has sucked my soul dry and stolen nearly three hours of my day. Curse self roundly and shut down the Internet.
7.10pm – Actually do some writing. I set myself a sort of daily target, which is usually between 1,000 – 2,000 words (depending on the project), but I’ve learned very swiftly not to stress out if I don’t hit target. Some days I can write anything up to 3,000 words plus… whilst others, I struggle to get 500 out. I am blessed with the Sixth Sense that is Touch Typing and so I can type very, very fast. This article by this point, for example, is 544 words and I wrote that in less than ten minutes. You get the picture.
9.00pm – Assuming I have made above target, or have given up, I allow the resuming of the soul-sucking, almost invariably by World of Warcraft. I’ll just pop on for an hour, I will say to my family, who just about remember what I look like.
12.00am – Swear.
12.05am – Shut down PC and go to bed for it all to start over again the next day.
Silliness aside, it’s actually not too hard to work writing into a full time job. I don’t want to have to do that, but at the moment, it’s a necessity rather than a choice. In what we shall joyfully refer to as ‘the ideal world’, I give up full time work and become a full time writer; sitting in a garret somewhere and staring out of the window in a pensive brood, contemplating the mysteries of life. Probably sipping on a chocamochafrappacinospresso or some other frothy poncy coffee or other.
As it is, all I do is prioritise. What’s really important in this is that I continue to enjoy myself. The moment the writing becomes a chore, I go and torment my family for a while until they’re begging me to go and write. (Note: I find it helps to maintain order if they can actually recall my face when I’m being cross at them).
It also helps that my PC does not have a room of its own and I’m around people whilst writing. This isn’t always a good thing, because it does lend itself to distractions – but at least I’m not isolated.
Yes, it’s a tough thing working full time and writing as well, but let’s look at another bit of evidence.
I want to do it.
Sounds simple and you know what? It really is that simple. I love my writing and I want to move to a place where I can make it the main source of income. I have too many responsibilities and financial commitments to make that leap at the moment, so I have to grin and bear it. See me grinning? Oh, wait, that’s my grimace.
It is hard to do. I won’t lie about it and there have been days when I’ve thought about giving up everything, selling my house, buying a giant mushroom and walking around underneath it like an umbrella until someone locks me up.
It is, however, easy to commit yourself to doing it. If you want to succeed, you will find a way to fit everything into the hours of your working day. But don’t let it rule your life. Never forget what’s important. Make time in your non-existent remaining time for the people you love. Otherwise, you may come home one day to find a child sat in your living room and politely ask them who they are.
‘I’m your son,’ he’ll reply, a little sadly.
‘Oops,’ you’ll respond and then go off to deal with the cats who, in the absence of being fed/loved have grown opposable thumbs and are building nuclear warheads in the back yard.
And that is how you fit writing around a full time job. Dedication, commitment, good time management and a healthy capacity to lie about it when people ask you how you manage it…
And there we have it folks! Thanks again to my friend Sarah for putting this together for us. It has provided a nice insight into the daily life of a hard-working author! Thanks again Sarah. )
And to those of you who are interested in preordering her upcoming Space Marine Battle Novel from the Black Library, have a click on the cover picture below to be directed to where you can purchase it: