If your image of yourself includes that you are a writer, then you must write. Ah, if only it could be as easy as it sounds. The reality is, no matter what our self-image, the bills must be paid and the food put on the table. Enter the necessity of a “real” job. Yes, there are those writers who are so successful that they don’t need a day job – and in fact may supply a day job to others in the form of hiring assistants and publicists, etc. There are those debut authors who, through talent, skill, probably hard work, and/or a huge dollop of luck, land a six-figure advance for their first book and (if they keep it up) never do another nine to five job. While the rest of us mere mortals may envy them, we know on some level that those folks are in the minority.
I read somewhere recently that, thanks to the ease and affordability of self-publishing nowadays, over a million books were published last year. A small percentage of those were published traditionally, and a microscopic number were penned by a best-selling and/or full time author. Some may not work outside the home because they can afford not to, but not due to their earnings from writing.
So how do you make time to work full time, commute, exercise (you should, you know), write, and build/maintain a presence on all forms of social media – and still make (some) time for family and recreation. The family time isn’t optional, especially if you have children. And fun and relaxation time is as important to your well-being as exercise (if you’re lucky, they are one and the same!).
I find myself trying to run faster and squeeze more in. I get up earlier to fit in exercise. I drive a little faster on my 1 ½ hour commute (each way). I’ve stopped browsing the farmer’s market on lunch breaks in favor of writing or doing something on social media. I hit the computer as soon as I get in the door after work instead of watching the news or having a leisurely glass of wine with my husband on the deck (summer) or in front of the fire (winter). I even tried taking a recorder with me to the gym so I could capture some of the brilliant (?) thoughts I have on the treadmill – but the results were unintelligible due to the jarring and heavy breathing. Evenings after 7pm are completely useless because I’ve been up and running full speed ahead since 2:30 am.
I keep thinking: there has to be a better way. But I haven’t found it. And I’ve still managed to complete three books so far and start a fourth one, though only one is published (so far) and is NOT on any best seller list. (Thus, the day job will continue.)
I’d love to hear how some of you balance competing priorities.