How To Write When You Have a Full-Time Job And Family

 

 

 

20 minute read.

 

Do you like to write? How much do you like to write? Do you ever wish you could have more time for writing, or write full time?

 

Writing can be lonely. Most people go to an office or some other place of employment. They have a routine, see co-workers every day, and have a chance to get out of their own head.

 

Writing can also be frustrating. Coming up with creative, interesting and fascinating ideas can be really hard. Who needs that kind of aggravation when you can just invest your efforts in something that has tangible results?

 

But then you think what if? What if you really could write? Not just for fun once in a while, but maybe for a living. What if you could have creative genius just oozing out of every pore, and then actually turn it into a profitable venture?

 

Or how about even making it part of a platform for public speaking and presentations, where you can bring elements of research, interviews, writing, and design into one powerful package?

 

If you are anything like me, you have a full time job, family with children, and no time to write.

 

But you want to write so bad, and you just can’t keep your material to yourself anymore. It’s so good! You have to publish it and make it known to the world, because you never know who it might help. You can feel it so much that it makes you want to explode if you don’t get it out.

 

How do you find time to write if you have an undying burning passion to write, but no time to do it?

 

 

Here is my Top 10 list of how to write when you have a full-time job, family, and no time.

 

It’s based on my experiences over many years of trying to fit in something I have always loved to do. Here is what works for me. Maybe it will work for you.

 

See if any of this resonates.

 

 

10. Write at a Specific Time Each Day Without Distractions

 

Everyone has their own favorite time to write or do whatever they are passionate about, such as exercising, running, yoga, reading, or meditating.

 

To some writers, there is a simplicity and beauty to just get up and write first thing in the morning. It’s quiet and peaceful, and you start with a clear head.

 

If you prefer to write in the morning, write before you do anything else. No email, no bill paying, no laundry, no dishes, no newspaper, and no T.V.

 

If it’s in the evening, get all that stuff out of the way first, and then concentrate on writing. I prefer to write at night before I go to bed. If I am not too exhausted from the current activities that day related to job and family obligations, it seems to work better for me than writing in the morning. More on that later.

 

Zadie Smith says “Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.”

 

Whether you write in the morning or before bedtime, the important thing is to keep distractions from interfering with your work or take focus away from your core message. Some people prefer a rhythmic or white noise in the background, or light music.

 

E.B. White, the famous author of Charlotte’s Web, talked about his daily writing routine: “I never listen to music when I’m working. I haven’t that kind of attentiveness, and I wouldn’t like it at all. On the other hand, I’m able to work fairly well among ordinary distractions. My house has a living room that is at the core of everything that goes on: it is a passageway to the cellar, to the kitchen, to the closet where the phone lives. There’s a lot of traffic. But it’s a bright, cheerful room, and I often use it as a room to write in, despite the carnival that is going on all around me. In consequence, the members of my household never pay the slightest attention to my being a writing man. They make all the noise and fuss they want to. If I get sick of it, I have places I can go. A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”

 

Don’t forget to read for inspiration. Stephen King says “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time, or the tools, to write. Simple as that.”

 

A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.

– E.B. White

 

 

9. Don’t Compare Yourself to Full-Time Writers

 

It’s too easy to look at the accomplishments of other writers and feel like you don’t match up. Everyone works at different paces, and we are all at different stages in life.

 

If you’re comparing yourself with someone who’s writing full-time and established in his career, you’re just setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.

 

Maybe Bobby Blog Writer can churn out seven awesome posts in a week, but he also might not work another job, commute, fight traffic, fix problems at work all day, and drive back home from work.

 

Established authors can pump out novels like candy every year, but they have a process they’ve refined every day for years that works for them and they probably get paid to write.

 

You have no idea what they went through when they started out, probably for years, taking care of kids, and working a full time job just like you. Now you can appreciate what they went through.

 

If you are going to make comparisons, compare yourself today with where you were a month ago, or six months ago, or a year ago. Then see where and how you’ve improved.

 

 

8. Set Small Achievable Goals

 

A full book can be anywhere from 60,000 to 160,000 words, or even longer depending on what you have to say. If you think about writing 60,000 words, or about 180-200 pages, you might think “What the F! I don’t have time for that!”

 

Any big goal is more achievable if you break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks.

 

The task seems much less daunting if you write even 1000 words a day. Then you can finish the first draft of a whole book in about two or three months, even if you take weekends off.

 

If it’s just about getting a new blog post out to satisfy your hungry readers, 1000 words is a sizable post that can contain plenty of helpful content.

 

 

7. Get Your Kids Involved in the Process

 

Most people who have kids automatically write them off as a distraction when they are in the process of writing blog posts or writing a book. But you need someone to review and help you edit your work, right? It’s actually a big part of keeping on track with the right ideas.

 

To give you an example, I was recently writing a speech, and my 12 year old daughter came into my office to ask me for help with her homework. Instead of sighing and rolling my eyes at the interruption, I simply put my work down and helped her. Then I said, “Hey, maybe you can help ME with something.”

 

You should have seen her eyes light up at the thought of helping her dad with his writing. It turns out she was so helpful, I’ve now been asking her regularly to listen to me read my speeches. And wow, it has made a huge difference just to talk them out to someone who wants to listen!

 

The dog will sit and listen, but feedback is a little lacking. He’s all about praising and accepting whatever I say. The cat just acts annoyed at me disturbing her nap.

 

The goldfish just acts like he doesn’t even know me, even though he sees me again every time he makes a pass in the tank. But kids, they are great reviewers and editors!

 

Instead of sighing and rolling my eyes at the interruption, I simply put my work down and helped her. Then I said, “Hey, maybe you can help ME with something.”

 

 

6. Get Enough Sleep

 

This seems like a no-brainer, but how many times do you have to stay up and lose some sleep just to get a post out there, or meet a deadline with your publisher? You used to do it with college exams all the time, right? But this is a bad idea.

 

You just can’t write a good book or post or anything if you are foggy and not able to focus. Don’t kid yourself. You may think that you pass some sort of enlightened or creative threshold when you deprive yourself of enough sleep.

 

Hallucinations and delusions caused by high doses of artificial stimulants don’t count. More often than not, you look at your work the next day with fresh eyes and mind, and find out what you thought was absolutely brilliant is just a rambling incoherent mess. (Flying monkeys in a bubbling pool of tar? What was I thinking???)

 

And don’t think that some high octane coffee or some other caffeinated beverage will save you. At night especially, this is not good for your nervous system or your digestive tract.

 

Nine times out of ten, sleep is the best policy. For a normal adult, seven to eight hours per night is great for a healthy functioning brain and body when you need it most.

 

 

5. Stop Looking For Permission from Superiors

 

We all learn basic grammar and how to tell great stories in elementary school. If you are lucky, and you pursue that passion, you might take a creating writing course in high school or college.

 

You don’t have to be an English major or Journalism major to be a great writer. I am not a classically trained writer. I don’t care. That doesn’t make me want to learn my craft any less. I don’t let it stop me and neither should you.

 

When you stop looking to people with credentials and what you perceive as authority in the writing world, you start to realize that they all once started right where you were, and they developed a love for writing. It was something they enjoyed and chose to develop over time.

 

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think credentials are bad. They can be useful when establishing credibility as an authority in your field. But you should not get credentials just to appear credible. Credibility is ultimately measured in the results you produce.

 

I stopped listening to people a long time ago who said I couldn’t be a writer. You are a writer at the very moment you decide to declare you are a writer.

 

Credibility is ultimately measured in the results you produce.

 

 

4. Write Down Your Childhood Stories

 

A lot of writers get writer’s block. That’s a very common fact for all writers. Sometimes, the creative juices are there and it flows like honey, and sometimes you are dry and barren as dust. It’s because you think you can’t come up with a good story, or you think the story isn’t interesting enough. Nonsense!

 

Think about it. When you look at a decrepit old lighthouse on the coast of Maine, a story probably pops into your head (possibly with Stephen King characters in there). When you come across a homeless person lying on the sidewalk, you probably wonder what happened in this person’s life that led them there.

 

Before you write even one single word tomorrow, stop and close your eyes. Then think of the universe and the vastness of deep space and say to yourself “My story is out there. Where does it start?”

 

Don’t try to force the story. Just start thinking of your past and all the rich experiences and lessons you learned as you grew up.

 

Go back as early as you want and keep imagining yourself floating through space. You will be surprised at how many memories come gushing out of you once you think about it. Then write! You can even add designs to that and turn it into a powerful vehicle for presentations and public speaking.

 

Before you write even one single word tomorrow, stop and close your eyes. Then think of the universe and the vastness of deep space and say to yourself “My story is out there. Where does it start?”

 

 

3. Don’t Make Writing Another Guilt Trip

 

You feel guilty enough just being a parent. Everyone needs self-expression and the chance to pursue their dreams. Writing is important. If no one wrote anything, just think of all the wasted creativity and talent we’d have.

 

You deserve a chance to express yourself with writing just as anyone else has with art, music, dancing, singing, painting, speaking, and acting. If you don’t get those expressions out, you will suffer emotionally and physically, and you will die inside.

 

Whether you make money from your writing or not, do NOT make money your primary goal. It’s nice to make money at it, but never expect it. You will set yourself up for failure and disappointment. Rather, make writing part of your platform.

 

A platform contains many mediums of expression. What matters most is that you feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment when you write your best content.

 

This next part is very important, so pay attention, especially if you have more than one child.

 

I’ve always struggled with finding time to write, and it got harder each time another child was born in my family. But that’s what I signed up for. I chose my family first.

 

So, if I decide to pursue my passion with writing, or ANY passion on the side, I have to accept the bad with the good, and accept responsibility for my family regardless of anything else that happens.

 

Family ALWAYS comes first.

 

Think of it this way, because you have a family, they give you an endless supply of great subjects to write about! That’s much better than thinking of kids and parenting duties as distractions. They are not aside from your writing. They ARE your writing!

 

You’re going to have days as a parent when you planned to write for a certain amount of time, but it just ain’t gonna happen. Maybe it’s childcare one day, or a doctor appointment, or sickness, or just plain exhaustion. Don’t beat yourself up about it and move on. Suck it up and try again.

 

Its not easy being a writer, and it’s not easy being a dad. It’s doubly hard being a writer dad! But it can be done. I’m living proof.

 

If I decide to pursue my passion with writing, or ANY passion on the side, I have to accept the bad with the good, and accept responsibility for my family regardless of anything else that happens.

 

 

2. Make Time to Write

 

Okay, let’s cut the shit. Anyone who says “I don’t have time” doesn’t really mean that. Say what you really mean. You DO have time. You just don’t have the PRIORITY! If you really want to write, you have to make it a priority.

 

You have a full-time job AND a family. Okay, how do you carve out an hour or two to write?

 

It might work to get up early in the morning before the rest of the house gets up. I personally don’t do that. It doesn’t work for me. I’d rather stay in bed until I absolutely have to get up and go to work at my job.

 

Second option, write at night before you go to bed. Sure, that might work if you’re not too wiped from all the exhausting activities that come along with job and family obligations. This is what most often works for me, so I write at night.

 

If neither one of those times work, consider writing on lunch break. It’s the perfect time to get neural stimulation because you are getting hydration and nutrition in your system. Feeding the brain feels good and gets the thoughts rolling.

 

When asked when I find time to write, I always say “Bathrooms and broom closets! My kids never want to come within 100 feet of the bathroom when I am in there, and they never think to look for me in the broom closet!”

 

Whatever you do, make this a regular thing. Do it at the same time each day, and preferably for the same amount of time. This is what makes a habit, and habits are good!

 

Say what you really mean. You DO have time. You just don’t have the PRIORITY! If you really want to write, you have to make it a priority.

 

 

A Word of Caution

 

If they stick with it, writers can finally start making enough money from their work to be able to quit their day jobs. It’s awesome when that happens.

 

But often times they become disillusioned and find out it’s not all fun and roses. Once they start writing full time, they suddenly became less efficient and discover a whole set of problems they never envisioned.

 

All that time during the day to think about nothing but writing for 8 hours? It can now resemble something like a corporate job. You still have to do work, write insane amounts of content, meet with your publisher (your boss), take care of your business, and market and sell your work.

 

What you used to squeeze in here and there now takes a full eight hours, and you still have to manage your time and workload. That is never going to change, no matter where you work.

 

Maybe there’s something to be said for not having a lot of free time to write. It tends to make you more efficient and focused. Whatever the case, don’t let changes upset your routine. Learn to transition gracefully and get back on your feet.

 

 

Summing It Up

 

Rather than complain and get pissed about all the work you have to do, and no time to do it, here is my last word on suggestions for getting your book or blog posts out there.

 

 

1. Just Write It

 

Don’t worry about editing, grammar, sentence structure, or facts just yet. You can fix all of that later. Just get the content written. Tell your stories. Write the copy. Make your words drip with dynamic expression and feeling!

 

Yes it’s difficult. It’s very difficult. But so is learning the guitar, losing 50 pounds (like I did) or training for a marathon (like I did also) or any kind of other things working parents have to do.

 

It’s tempting to think that writing is this super fun, sexy, creative, interesting sideline that you can use as an instrument to reveal your deepest heart-felt expressions.

 

And it is all that. But it’s also just another type of work, and it requires responsibility, dedication, commitment, and the right tools.

 

Its not easy being a writer, and it’s not easy being a dad. It’s doubly hard being a writer dad! But it can be done. I’m living proof.

 

 

For the cherry on the top of this ice cream sundae, here is my list of excellent tools, software and apps I’ve found for great writing:

 

1. Scrivener

2. FocusWriter

3. WriteMonkey

4. Celtx

5. LibreOffice Writer

6. Sigil

7. Trelby

8. Scribus

9. Hemingway

10. Google Docs

 

Get out there and show them what you can write about!

 

If you liked this article, subscribe and leave a comment and let me know what you do and how you make writing work. More great articles on writing, research, interviews, design, presentations, and public speaking are coming your way.

 

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