Monday, February 24, 2014

How to Write a Novel Holding a Full-time Job

How to find time to write a novel while holding down a full-time job?

It can be done, and I'm sure many people do it. I'm going to talk about how I do it and some other suggestions to accomplish the goal of completing your manuscript.

Everyone's circumstances are different. Some people have a wife and kids. Others take classes in addition to working a job. A novel can be written in the downtime in and around your other commitments. The downtime is there. Unless you're a slave, you have time somewhere in your day that you can use for writing.

Before You Go To Work in the Morning
Get up earlier than usual and make it a habit to write before you get to work. You could write at home or go to a place like Starbucks or McDonalds and type on your laptop or mobile device, such as an iPhone.

My preference is to use an iPhone, the Google Drive app on which I keep my manuscripts, and a bluetooth keyboard. The key here is portability. All I need to carry is the iPhone and the little keyboard, which can even fit in an inside jacket pocket. Another option is the virtual laser bluetooth keyboard. This is small device that projects the image of a keyboard onto a flat surface, such as a Starbucks table. Available at places like Amazon.

At Work
Whether you are able to write your book at work depends on your job, your supervisor, your employer, yourself, at the least. Eat on the job and use your lunch hour for writing.
If you use your time efficiently and have a good idea of what you will write in your allotted time, you can accomplish a lot if you do the same thing every day.

I remember seeing Peter Straub at a book festival talking about the "drip" method of writing a novel. A few hundred words every single day and after a year, bingo, you've got a manuscript.

After Work
It's 5 o'clock. Time to go home. Do you absolutely have to go home at that moment? Could you stay in your office and write a few hundred words? Can you go somewhere before you go home? A cafe where you can eat and sit and compose?

If you do go home, take some time for writing, despite other duties, such as cooking dinner, playing with the kids, etc. Carve out some time for writing, even if it's just a half hour.

Traveling To and From Work
If you commute in a car, you might try using a dictation software program, such as the one in the iPhone or something like the Dragon Dictation app. You talk out the paragraphs of your novel and the software translates your spoken words into written words in a file. Later, you edit the file for the words the program may not have understood properly. This works at night as well. Speak into your mobile device instead of typing on its tiny keyboard and get a few hundred more words that way.
If you find time every day for writing those few hundreds words and do that every day, the manuscript will be there. Suppose you wrote 300 words every day of the year. At the end, you would have a manuscript over 100,000 words long! That could be two 50,000 word manuscripts. Two books.

So it can be done. The trick is finding when and how you can get time during your day given your own unique circumstances.

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