Many of us writers dream of the day when we can be full-time authors. Writing all day, every day, creating new works with our words and being paid to do it? It’s the dream life for many.
But the reality is, it’s hard to get going. You can’t just simply decide to be a writer one day and make a full-time living the next. You have to build up your career and gradually transition to that.
But here lies the Catch-22: we have to write a lot in order to make a living. But we can’t write a lot without making a living.
In other words, we need to work jobs in the meantime, which takes time away from our writing.
Does that mean that writing a book while working full-time is impossible? Of course not. Many writers have been able to build careers on the side while they work their full-time jobs.
The key is just understanding limitations of writing while you work full time, having patience, and executing a plan. If you can do those things, you can write a book while working full-time.
If you’re going to do it, you need to understand what it takes.
Before we get into any other tip, we need to talk about patience.
Like I said, you’re not going to wake up one day and be a full-time author. It’s going to take time to build that career, and if you are working full-time during the day, it’s going to move even slower.
That doesn’t mean it’s not going to move. It just means that you have to have realistic expectations at the start. It may and likely will take years before you are able to generate a full-time income with your writing. And that’s only if you stick with it through the tough times.
When you sit down to start your writing career, have a realistic expectation and go into it with both eyes wide open. You’re going to be here a while. That’s okay.
“I don’t have time to write!”
This is the refrain of every aspiring writer. None of us have time to write. But that’s because we have to make the time.
If you’re an adult, chances are you don’t have a whole lot of extra time lying around. So why are you approaching your writing career this way? Why would you write only when you have the time?
If something is important to you, you make time for it. That means adjusting your schedule, saying no to some things, and freeing up the time for what’s important.
If writing is important to you, make the time. This can be done in any number of ways. Some writers, and many writers in fact, find that waking up earlier to write is what works for them. They set an alarm, wake up a little earlier than they have to, and they get to their desks to write before the day starts.
This is a very effective method of writing because many writers feel that they are more creative in the early morning hours. By writing immediately upon waking, they tap into that extra creativity that some of us might not have later in the day.
Of course, on the flip side, you have to get up early. Many writers also feel that they can’t do that. It’s just too difficult to drag themselves out of bed, no matter how important it is that they do so.
So what are you doing? If you can swing it, get up earlier. It’s the easiest and most straightforward way of making more time in your schedule. But there are other ways to make time in your schedule.
Maybe you can write on your lunch break as you wolf down your sandwich in the break room. Maybe you can turn off the TV at night for 15 minutes so that you can get a little writing done. Maybe you can just go to bed half an hour later and do the writing before then.
There are lots of ways to do it. It doesn’t matter how much time you carve out, it’s just important that you do carve it out. Only successful writers do that.
I would argue that the most successful authors are not necessarily the ones that are the most prolific. They are prolific, but not because they focus on that.
They focus on consistency.
Writers who are consistent are prolific by default. If they are consistently putting words on the page every single day, they are going to crank out more work. It’s just a fact.
But if you focus on being prolific, you might frustrate yourself into inaction overtime. By focusing on consistency, you can build up your writing work gradually. Plus, it gives you a more realistic goal to focus on.
For example, if you focus on writing several thousand words a week, you might get frustrated by that goal. But if you focus on just writing 500 words every day? That’s a goal that you can wrap your head around. And if you consistently do that every single day, you’re going to have several hundred thousand words by the end of the year.
Plus, by setting your goals low, you motivate yourself over time when you’re able to exceed those goals.
Regardless, the only way to get writing down is by putting words on the page, and by being consistent, you make it as easy as possible for yourself.
Along with that, writing takes practice. If you want to be a successful writer, you have to be a good writer. If you want to be a good writer, you have to write a lot. Focusing on writing every single day is going to allow you to build that experience and improve your writing naturally over time.
Maybe you feel that you don’t have the ability to carve out any more time. Perhaps you think that you are too busy in every aspect of your life to bother.
Does that mean you can’t be a writer? No. It just means you have to get creative.
We all have the ability to write complete works of literature in our pockets. Our phones are more powerful than any of the technology that William Shakespeare ever used. So we have the tools. We just have to use them.
How often do you spend time waiting in line? Riding on the bus? Commuting to work? These are all times when you can get some writing done if you start thinking creatively.
If you’re waiting in line, you could open a Google Doc on your phone and type out a few sentences. Keep doing that everyday or every time you’re in line, and that consistency will build up.
The same goes for riding on the bus. You’re sitting there, not really doing anything, so why not pull out your phone and start writing? This is dead time that you can fill with more words on the page.
If you commute, obviously you can’t be writing as you’re behind the wheel. But you can dictate. Everybody’s phone has dictation built-in already. Just hit the microphone button in a Google Doc and start writing. You can dictate your work as you go along, and edit it later when you’re at your laptop.
A lot of writers use dictation, especially in their down time. It wasn’t uncommon for prolific writers like Winston Churchill to dictate work to their assistants while they were taking a bath or driving in a car, for example.
When you free your brain to see these opportunities, you suddenly find yourself having more time than you need to get the writing done while still working.
As you can see, writing a book while working full-time can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. The main thing is keeping perspective, and celebrating as many small wins as you can. You’re not going to get those big wins initially like a full-time writer would. Just approach it from the position you are in.
Of course, you could also hire a ghostwriter to write the book for you, depending on your goals for the book. By having a ghostwriter in your corner, you can free up even more time for yourself and see your writing get done even faster.