Ah, the day job. Necessary for most authors because let’s face it: you rarely get six-figure advances for publishing books nowadays. You’re lucky if you even get an advance, period! So, a day job becomes something of a necessity unless you’re lucky and you have a partner who makes enough income. And let’s be honest, in this day and age, single incomes barely pays much (I know because I’m single income lol).
So this means what? It means less writing time. You work six to eight hours per day, get home, and you’re so mentally exhausted that the idea of even opening your word document is draining. You stare at the page – maybe there’s a few words written – but your eyelids droop and you close it, giving up before you ever really started. It’s hard. And the worst part? While you’re working, you get all these ideas – all the words are flowing through your mind, you can even see the scene you plan to write as soon as you get off work. But when it’s time, there’s just no energy left.
When I first started my job, working 40 hours per week, I worked, ate, and slept. That’s it. No more writing because despite finishing at 4:00pm every day, I’d get home, eat, and pretty much go to bed right away. I was constantly exhausted. Not just tired, but pushed past my rope like all the life was drained out of me. I started feeling depressed, unable to write. My first book had just been published, and I felt my author career vanish before it even started. What if I could never write another book again because I was tired all the time?
Eventually, my job turned so stressful that I took a reduction in hours. Like my doctor said, financial stability is nice, but if you’re too stressed out and depressed to enjoy it, what’s the point? So I started working 30 hours a week instead. Less money every month, but still doable. But I was still coming home so mentally drained. Finishing at 2:00pm helped, but it was more the reduction of not being ‘on’ as long, more than anything else. I couldn’t seem to see a light at the end of this horrible job. I continued applying to other positions, hoping to change to something where I’d be less monitored on time constantly, but nothing changed.
Until it did.
But not really. I just changed certain things. I learned to work around my exhaustion. Every morning, I carpool, and so, I got to work usually 45 minutes (if not a full hour) before my shift actually started. Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m tired when I get to work at 7:00am, waiting for my 8:00am shift to start, but I’m not exhausted. There’s a big difference. I’m tired because I don’t sleep well, but I’m not yet mentally exhausted. So I pushed myself and decided every morning, I’d write one paragraph in my manuscript. Nothing too big. Just one paragraph, however long it needed to be. But once I’d write a paragraph, it would turn into a full page. And then I’d slowly start waking up, and I was able to write more and more. I have three 15-minute breaks throughout the day, and I use those to write as well.
Now, I write a minimum of one chapter every day, Monday to Friday (and more during the weekend). Sometimes they’re shorter chapters (around 1,000 words), but lately, if I use my breaks well, I can get two or three chapters done, and all together, it’s around 3,000 to 5,000 words before my day job ends.
It’s not an easy task to write and work a day-job, but it is possible. Keep hope, and I’m sure you’ll find your own way to integrate writing into your busy life! 🙂