This summer I attended the Willamette Writers’ Conference. Many of the writers and presenters there kept saying, “keep your day job.” There’s even a pretty good blog that I occasionally read called www.writerwithadayjob.com that offers tips and motivation to keep going in the face of a busy life. She also has a companion book that I haven’t read but it’s on my list.
Some of the reasons successful (read published) day job writers give for keeping the job are:
- It keeps you out in the world with real people, not locked away in solitude.
- It gives you something to write about
- It helps structure your day
- It keeps you focused.
- Health Insurance
- A steady paycheck so you can relax and not feel pressured to write
While I actually agree with many of those reasons, in practice it’s tough. Now that I am almost a semester and a half into the school year, I’ve been thinking about my progress on my writing thus far.
It’s been a struggle to meet my teaching, coaching, wife, and mom obligations and still find time to write. Last week, I did alright, but during the two weeks prior, I failed miserably at the writing part. It seems to work like this. I have a great week and churn out two blog posts and two thousand novel words and other weeks, it’s a struggle to get one blog post done.
My new writing goal is to write something every day. I started the school year with the goal to write 4000 words per week. That soon got reduced to 2000 words until I finally decided that writing something every day was better than nothing and demanding a word count from myself only made me feel like I was failing, which I am not, at all. It’s just that writing in the large chunks of time which I prefer has been difficult to achieve.
So my question is this: How do published writers do it? They give reasons to keep the day job but then how do they achieve their writing goals?
What are the specific strategies? On the one hand, I like the structure and focus my job teaching gives me, but on the other hand, my job is a time suck. Right now, I have a stack of research papers to grade; I had to be at school at 6:00 am this morning to take four students to town to speak to the local Rotary club; I am sending 18 more students to Reno for a tournament at 6:00 am Friday morning with hotel arrangements etc., and then I’m driving a school vehicle down with four more students after school gets out. I’ll return home midday Sunday.
Oh ya, and then I have a novel to finish. I am not complaining. I am happy . . . just busy.
My life is full. Each minute is precious. What are strategies that any of you found that work? I’ve tried a bunch, and I’m open to suggestions.