Writing a Book When You Have a Full-Time Life

Tips and tricks from one busy human to other busy humans

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Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash
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Photo by Micah Hallahan on Unsplash

Time of Day

Turns out I’m a morning writer, which was unexpected because I am as far from a morning person as you can get. I’d written off mornings as useless writing time, but at the end of the day, after work, and the gym, and cooking dinner, I had zero energy to write. The temptation to plop down on the couch with my partner Marius and watch Stranger Things was too strong!

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Photo by Nabeel Syed on Unsplash

Noise

Our apartment is a busy one—Marius and I both work from home, and our business partner & friend Hannah comes in most days of the week to work. We also have a bunny, Otis, who likes to skitter around and play with his loudest toys. And he sheds a lot, so we have an air purifier. And an air conditioner. Several air conditioners, in fact.

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Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

Plotting vs. Prose

This note has actually made the biggest difference in my writing. For a while, I was focusing on 500 words per day, but it quickly became a one or two-hour struggle. I took a step back—when I knew where a chapter was going and wht I needed to accomplish, the 500 words poured out easily. But when I was unsure about the direction, the last thing I wanted to do was write dialogue, knowing I was working in plot darkness.

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Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Variety is the spice of life

As much as I want to focus on one project at a time and speed through to the finish line, that approach doesn’t work well for my writing. Taking a break from my novel and writing an article like this one feels like a breath of fresh air, so that I can come back to my main project refreshed. Like with everything in life, moderation is also key in writing, and changing it up every once in a while can be really helpful. Reading more is a common way for writers to change things up, as is writing in a coffee shop, writing in a group, or signing up for a writing retreat. I’ve found that something as simple as writing at the kitchen table, instead of my usual position on the couch, can help me bust through writing blocks.

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Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

Celebrate your achievements!

This one took me a LONG time to learn, but it’s one of the best parts of the process! Many of us aren’t programmed to celebrate our own achievements, because we rarely *feel* productive. But taking time to reflect, recognize, and celebrate our efforts is crucial. Finish the chapter that gave you grief for two weeks? Buy yourself a new book and take a day off from writing. Figure out that character arc? Have a glass of wine. And finally, finish the manuscript? Go out! Tell your friends! Not many people can write a book, but you did. That’s worth celebrating. And it makes coming back to writing afterwards even more fun.

Former filmmaker. Forever storyteller.

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