Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Juggling Writing And The Day Job

Posted by: Susan Lute
Working on: About to publish MY GARDEN on blurb.com. Waiting to hear from the ed and agent on current romance projects.
Mood: Awake at 4:30 in the morning. Cheerful. Calm.

Got the taxes done, so I can give this month’s topic a little thought. I should know something about juggling the writing and the day job, shouldn’t I? Have some pearls of wisdom I can pass on, right? Good advice? Some wisdom?

Okay, here goes. Exercise daily, drink lots of water, and gift yourself with time to write every day.

The truth is, I had another career before I became an author. I’m a twenty-four year veteran nurse and have done just about everything a nurse can do, from hospital nursing, working in a doctor’s office, working for a prominent insurance company, legal work, volunteering for the Red Cross, helping a seizing man on the bus; you get the picture. And, I’ve been writing, serious for publication, for twelve of those years, so I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how to juggle two completely different careers.

I’ve tried it all. Writing on the bus during the hour long commute to downtown Portland every morning (that’s how I wrote my first novel). Staying up until I fell asleep with pen in hand and woke up with paper creases on my face. I’ve worked around family, friends and when the hubby, who works a swing schedule, is getting his beauty rest. I’ve gone to workshops on time management. I’ve pretty much tried it all, but it turns out there’s no magic formula for getting the work done, or in this case juggling a full life. As an ardent student of human nature, I've watched other writers on the road to publication. We all juggle more than writing and a day job.

Here’s what I keep coming back to over and over again.


1. Exercise daily. It keeps you healthy and helps those badly needed endorphins lubricate the brain and creative process. It’s also an excellent time to work out plot points and obstacles in your story.

2. Drink lots and lots of water. Keeps the joints limber, especially the ones you use to put your story onto the computer. Keeps the red stuff flowing freely through your veins, always a good thing.

3. Gift yourself with time to write every day. You have to exercise your writing muscle to keep it well oiled. If you let it, there’s always something that can and will get in the way of your writing. Clear your plate of all other obligations for an hour, or two, or whatever time fits the other pieces of your life. This should be sacred time. You are not a bad person, if you tell folks you need an hour to write. Okay, except if you’re breast feeding, the baby rules. Still carve out a half hour or so while Junior naps (says the mother of three, even though yes, they are now grown and out of the house).

If you write an hour a day, AND you write a page (250 words) in that hour, in 365 days you’ll complete one single title, or two series romances, or... whatever combination of projects you’re writing.

My last piece of advice. Be in the moment. When you’re writing, write. When you’re at the day job, be completely there. Find joy in both places, even if, like me, you rather hire someone else to do the day job for you and therefore free up more time to be at your desk writing :)

5 comments:

Genene Valleau said...

Hi, Su!

I hadn't heard of blurb.com. I'll have to check it out. Congrats on MY GARDEN. The crocus are blooming in my yard, which means spring is actually coming again this year. :) So the timing for your garden book is perfect!

Great pearls of wisdom and I can totally relate to paper creases on the face. LOL!

Hope you get good news soon on your current romance projects!

Susan Lute said...

Thanks Genene,

The waiting is what get us, isn't it? Congrats to you too :) Book three...good job girl. And as to the paper creases...at least they're not "wrinkles". That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

therese said...

Congrats to both of you!

It's funny but I posted on the same topic on my blog on Tuesday. Pretty much gave the same advice - or tried - to my screenwriting class and was shot down. Jean M Auel's grandson is in my class. She goes into an 86 hour zone...

Jessa Slade said...

as to the paper creases...at least they're not "wrinkles"

Susan, you crack me up. Yeah, those cracks aren't wrinkles either :)

Susan Lute said...

Well...you know...it's all in how you look at it :) Which is why we're writers.