Let’s get real for a second: if you decide to become an author, the chances of writing a best-seller and being able to live off the profits right out the gate are slim to none. Are there authors who have achieved that? Sure, but those are a few people out of tens of thousands. For many authors, such as myself, it’s not uncommon to have a full-time job in addition to your author career, which can be a rigorous job in itself.
If you’re an author who works an additional full-time job, it’s important that you strike a proper balance between the two. Being an author is your passion, but your other job is (hopefully) going to pay the bills and offer you health insurance. Therefore, you cannot allow yourself to lose focus in either area. Here are some tips to help you balance your author career with your full-time job.
Note: The term “author” can be attributed to anyone who composes an article, report, essay, etc. In this article, I’m using the term strictly to refer to people writing and/or publishing their own creative works like novels, short story collections, poetry compilations, etc. I am also using the term “job” to refer to an additional full-time position outside of authoring.
Don’t Feel Despondent
As mentioned before, the chances of immediately becoming a self-supporting author are very low. I’ve published nine books and I’m currently entering my 12th year as a self-published author, and I still work a full-time job outside of my author career. I know authors who have been doing the same for decades. While it may feel good knowing that you can support yourself solely on your books, there is nothing to be ashamed about if you need the extra assistance of a full-time job. Do not let these negative feelings affect you or else you can find yourself losing interest in your authorship because you see it as a lost cause. One of the key ways to balance your author career is to keep your morale up.
Celebrate the Small Wins
I’m a firm believer in celebrating the small wins in all aspects of life. A win is a win. That logic should apply to your attempts when trying to balance your author career with your full-time job. Did an agent request to see your full manuscript? Did you manage to sell 10 copies of your book in a month? Did you publish your very first book? Then celebrate! Allowing yourself to cherish and celebrate these “small” wins will do wonders for your morale and motivation. Some people never make it to those benchmarks, and you managed to do it while still working a full-time job! You deserve a pat on the back.
Dedicate Specific Time to Your Writing
Working full-time is no picnic, no matter what you do. Whether you work as a landscaper, or as a receptionist, or as a postal worker, or as a teacher, you might find yourself exhausted at the end of each day. You want to just watch a movie or hang out with friends rather than write since it feels like more work. However, if you don’t dedicate time to your writing, it just becomes harder and harder to get back into it after a break.
I always say that writing is like working out. The more you do it, the easier it is and the better you become. Much like if you were to dedicate time to exercising each day, you need to commit to writing if you want to see your author career take off. At the same time, it cannot interfere with your full-time job.
My own personal goal is to write at least 1,000 words a day (it doesn’t have to be all at once) This can be done in the morning, in the afternoon, or even on my lunch break. Some people may choose to block out specific times of their day for writing. One person in an old writing group told me how she tried to write a complete short story at least three times a week. There is no singular path to working out your writing muscle.
Give Yourself a Break
Your life shouldn’t be dedicated solely to being an author and working a full-time job. You have to give yourself a break every once in a while to balance your author career in a healthy manner. Aside from blocking out chunks of your day for your writing, you should also consider dedicating times to self-care. Go to a restaurant with your friends. Go see a movie. Read a book. Do some gardening. Giving yourself a break is an excellent way to maintain great mental health, which is necessary if you want to excel both in your author career and with your full-time job.
Learn to Prioritize
At the end of the day, you want to figure out what is most important to you. It’s at that point that you need to step back and re-evaluate your priorities. You may need to adjust one aspect of your life to accommodate the other. Maybe you will need to shorten your writing goals so that you can dedicate more time to your full-time job, or maybe you’ll want to modify your job so that you can properly dedicate time to your authorship.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of being able to do the latter. In this day and age, money is king, and many of us have a host of monetary responsibilities like paying bills or raising families. This means the authoring will usually have to take a backseat. However, if you find yourself in such a position, I recommend not giving up the author game completely. Even if you only have time to write a few sentences each week, make sure you take advantage of it.
This small amount of writing might not be your preferred way to balance your author career with your full-time job, but it’s important to keep that spark alive in case you want to reignite the author fire somewhere in the future when you have more time and freedom.