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Here’s How I Finished Writing A Novel While Working Full-Time In 30 Days

Is writing a novel while working full-time possible? Is it worth it? How can you write a novel while working full-time? I know you have lots of questions to throw in the basket. The simple answer is yes because I did it myself back in 2018. It is possible to write any book, fiction or nonfiction. But there’s a catch. Don’t set high expectations and be open to possible outcomes.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Rest assured that I don’t promote a program or a product I don’t recommend or I’m not using myself or not having tried it, at least.

Writing a novel while working full-time sounds daunting. It can be exhausting, isolating, and depressing. After spending 8 hours at work, you’re excited to go home and relax on your couch. When it’s a difficult day, your boss demanded a lot of things to do that you just can’t handle, you crave sleep to revive the energy you lost from the stressful job and wake up the next day to work again.

If you’re like most people, this is how your life is supposed to look. However, it’s not the case because you need to spare a few more hours to write while hoping you could submit the drafts on specific deadlines.

As much as you want to blow it all up because you’re tired, you can’t because that decision could affect many people who are relying on the book’s publication and its profits. It’s a tough situation, and many established or self-published authors have done the same thing when they debuted.

Nonetheless, writing a novel while working full-time could potentially be your creative breakthrough, especially if you’ve already given your all from the beginning. So, stick with your commitment and push yourself to finish the book.

How Do You Plan A Book & Start Writing a Novel While Working Full-Time?

Based on personal experience, I came up with 9 simple ways to start writing the story you love while you keep that boring job, such as:

  1. Set a deadline to finish your novel.
  2. Challenge disbelief.
  3. Never compare your success with others.
  4. Practice self-discipline.
  5. Keep a notebook with you to record ideas while on the road.
  6. Always record your dreams.
  7. Avoid distractions.
  8. Love your novel, so much.
  9. Keep reading.

1. Set a deadline.

Setting a deadline for your novel is very important. This will give you a sense of urgency to finish your book faster. Others finish their first drafts of the manuscript within weeks. It sounds crazy but it’s true. You can speed up the process of book writing when you’re aware of when you plan to finish it.

How long will you finish your novel? In one month or in two months or within 6 months?

In your case, you’re working full-time. You’re too busy trying to accomplish the tasks on that day and you’re burned out to write another page when you go home. Honestly, you’ve got a good alibi not to write. So, better have a deadline and put a mark on your calendar hanging in your office or if you’re a bit techie, you can set it in your Google Calendar.

You don’t have to rush it. Take the time in writing one sentence or a paragraph every single day.

What is important here is you make small progress. And by making small progress—when done persistently—you’re getting closer to your goals more than you expect.

You don’t have to finish it in a rush, which doesn’t mean you won’t write fast. The majority of the writers can’t finish anything because they don’t that feeling they need to.

When I wrote Accidental Quest, I have lots of tasks with different deadlines, and finishing the manuscript almost had me passed out. It all boils down to “why.” I rather drain 100% of my energy as long as I see my manuscript printed on my table.

That’s what drove me to end my story, although as a housewife and as a freelancer, it’s too tiresome. But then again, I step out and reflect as I review why I started this journey.

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2. Challenge limiting self beliefs.

When you think you can’t, you can’t. When you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, your limiting belief is evident. The belief is that you can’t do it even without starting anything or writing a word of that chapter. It’s not just you or me, who has this problem. It’s the majority. Yet, only a few can overcome and fight against it.

I wrote my Filipino Historical Romance 30 Days With Mr. Weirdo while I worked full-time as a freelancer. It took me a while to finish the novel amidst the battle of depression.

As the saying goes, “If there’s a will, there’s a way.” Similarly, if you think you can’t finish a book, you can’t finish a book. If you think you can, you can. In other words, it’s about focus and winning mindset as an author.

Writing a novel isn’t an easy feat. On the contrary, it gives you an enchanting feeling, especially when you type in the last word of the last chapter or the epilogue of the book.

In 2017, I began writing my novels and I failed to succeed. There were many distractions, specifically the emotional and mental battles I had to go through. Until now, it’s continuous. But as soon as I discovered the plan and immediately implemented it for my own books, I was surprised to have the stories finished.

Each book has around 60,000 words and the other one has 90,000 to 100,000 words. Wow, if you ask me, how did I manage it?

It all goes down to challenging your self-belief. Believe you can do it. That’s the key.

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3. Never ever compare yourself with others.

Jealousy and envy are some of the most poisonous chemicals you inject into your brain. Of course, you just get started so it’s not reasonable to compare your progress against the others who’ve been writing for years. Am I clear?

Remember this, my friend. You cannot replicate the same success as you have your own unique writing journey. The only thing you can duplicate is the success itself. What is more important is your small progress towards your end goal: finishing a novel. Your first draft.

After the first draft, you revise it over and over again until it’s polished. This process takes a while. This is why I discourage you from comparing your success to others.

No author has similar successes. Each writer will have their unique breakthrough. That said, it’s best not to keep comparing ourselves to other successful writers, trying to copy their success stories.

What is important? You, as a storyteller, enjoy the process even if you think you make slow progress.

You have your own unique breakthrough. All you need to do is focus on storytelling. Your novel is their escape from reality. It’s your job to create that world for yourself and for your readers.

Writing good stories is beyond collecting a number of reads and the income you earn from them. If you’re so into these things, you lose your understanding of why you exist as a writer.

As an author, you’re unique. Your writing style is unique. And your readers will know that. So, please avoid comparison and do your job, creating the world for your readers to meet your characters.

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4. Practice self-discipline.

Being a writer is no joke. It’s not an easy road to take if you were to judge the amount of work and stress you’re getting into. Especially if you’re working full time. No writing is lofty. It’s never comfortable. If you think about it, it’s a hellish battle.

I wake up every day and write around 2,000 words before I do the household chores and work. If time doesn’t allow me in that morning, I write after my working hours with the same number of words. That’s my daily count and I have to follow it. I’m kind of strict with that.

Do your best to spare some time in writing. Don’t get too structure. Freewriting will do. Just collect all those random thoughts and review them later on.

Most writers think they need to force themselves to write in chapters resulting in losing their creativity. What they didn’t realize is that even a sentence per day can make a difference—speeding your writing up.

During the weekends, I do the same thing. In fact, there are many times I sacrifice my time with my family because of my writing. I have to finish a chapter or two before I do anything at home like doing the laundry, etc. If my relatives invite me to a birthday party, for example, I force myself to join the event but then I write after I get home.

If the work isn’t demanding on that day, I manage to write a few words and finish the whole chapter before I resume work. In general, it’s all about discipline. It’s how you carry yourself to accomplish the task you set per day to make a progress. Although they’re small, it is progress.

5. Become a fan of using Field Notes.

I’m not talking about the small laptop. You need to keep a notebook, Field Notes, inside your bag. In case if you have a novel idea while you’re away from your laptop or your typewriter, it’s easy to jot down the ideas you use for writing later on.

Since I’ve been writing a lot at 15, it’s been a habit to carry a small notebook and a pen in my bag. My classmates find it weird because they don’t do that. They ask me many times what things would I write down if I wasn’t in a classroom.

I love writing whether it’s non-fiction or fiction. When I was around 12 years old, I finished a script for a stage play for the annual school event and at 15, I wrote several stories.

Keep a small notebook or a device that allows you to record those random ideas while you’re doing something else other than writing. It’s a writer’s way of life.

It was only when I was 22 years old that I began writing lengthy novels. The introverted lifestyle I do urges me to bring something to write my ideas while I’m on the road.

A lot of times when I rode a jeepney or I walked along the park, ideas come in. So, having that small notebook or something to write on is very essential to novelists like us.

Very, very important. One of the most regrettable events is having nothing to record ideas simply because I forgot my notebook that moment I had the novel concept in mind. It happened after I wake up at 2:00 am.

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6. Record your dreams.

Believe it or not, my novel Accidental Quest came from a dream. I recorded the story as soon as I woke up at 2 o’clock in the morning.

Whenever I had dreams, having the phone near me is convenient. It’d be easy for me to record the dreams I had and review them the next day or when the time is due to start writing. I remember I read an article somewhere wherein it says, the majority of the stories that became the best selling ones came from dreams.

The best literature or any kind of masterpiece often comes from either a dream or a daydream.

It doesn’t only apply to fiction itself but to anything. Paul McCartney wrote one of their hit songs after he recorded the melody he had in his dream. J.K. Rowling’s first meeting with Harry Potter was at a train when she saw a young boy passing by after she daydreamed.

There are many stories like this that brought the best sellers to the bookshelves. If I were you, record your dreams. This is where my tip #5 applies before you lose the concept in your head.

7. Avoid distractions.

If you want to start writing a novel while working full-time that means you let go of distractions. You cannot write when you’re indulged in watching Korean dramas on online streaming sites or series on Netflix.

You cannot finish anything if you’re mind wanders about the work issues when you sit in front of the laptop to write the next chapter. On top of that, you cannot write anything if your social media is running. Of course, it requires practice.

Aside from organization, you need to let go of distractions to focus and speed up the process of writing with a guarantee to finish it.

There are many circumstances wherein my work interferes with my writing time. My boss assigns tasks anytime he wants to, though it’s already beyond the working hours. I assume you met the same type of boss as him. Sometimes, my husband calls asking me how am I, etc. while I write. These events are uncontrollable, but if you can control them, you must.

I turn off my social media when I start writing (like this post right now) and reserve a time for it after I finish my goal, my word count. Because of my full-time job, I have to implement flexibility when it comes to my writing schedule. Sometimes I write in the morning after I wake up, sometimes at night before I go to bed.

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On Writing A Novel While Working Full-Time As A Married Woman

Of course, your family tries to steal some time affecting your schedule. In this case, I’m fortunate enough to have married a man who can understand my “alone” time. In fact, he reserves a space for me—an office—to work on my tasks undisturbed. I really appreciated his efforts and I can’t help but fall in love with him more.

If you’re not in the same situation as I, make plans ahead wherein you can spare some time earlier before your day job begins. If your work starts at 8 o’clock in the morning, get out of the house around 7 o’clock and write for an hour. At night, let your husband understand your writing schedule after you send your kids to bed.

Though your life as an author requires a lot, demands a lot, never ever let that affect the relationship of your family because you make writing as an excuse for your absence in their day-to-day life.

You make sure you spend enough time with them, your children, your husband, your family in general as you start writing a novel while working full-time every day.

8. Love your novel.

Why would you choose this kind of life if you don’t love writing stories? Why are you writing this story if it’s not close to your heart?

I learned it from John Doerr, an American investor and venture capitalist. He said in order to attain your goals regardless of what they are, you need to know your “why.”

Your story is part of you. It’s a direct reflection of your values, your beliefs, and yourself as a whole. You’re writing a part of you so you better love it.

In each chapter you write, there’s always a percentage of yourself on that page. Whether it’s from your childhood experiences or from your closest friends, you witness the event and you’re writing it down. It’s always like that.

Don’t just love your novel. Be obsessed with it. If you don’t feel connected with your story, go back and rewrite it over and over again until that piece finally speaks to your heart.

Your characters may change, but you put your own reflection in these characters. Always. This is why it’s important to write your novel, even if it’s your first, you love it. It should speak your heart not because it’s the trend.

Just to check whether you love your novel as much as I do with mine, I’ll go again with the questions I asked you at the beginning of this post.

Why do you want to try writing a novel while working full-time?

How can you write a 60,000-word novel while you’re working in a full-time job?

Why would you choose to spend more time writing when you have the option to sleep and binge-watch your favorite Netflix shows?

Why would you waste time sitting in front of your laptop staring at a blank page, too confused to write “Once upon a time” if you have the option to party during the weekends?

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9. Keep reading.

I bet you hear a lot of authors telling you to keep reading to improve your writing. It’s true. You can’t be better if you don’t read. Reading gives you ideas about how other authors present the story and how they develop the characters in their own style. It’s not copying their technique, but it’s like giving you an idea of this and that is possible when it comes to telling a story.

You know I’ve been writing for more than 10 years, however, it’s only when I read books from different authors, different genres that gives me valuable improvement on how I write. True. I study their techniques, words, phrases, and presentation, specifically the story development in such a way it’s beautifully crafted.

Writers are voracious readers. I read everything—magazines, online articles, and books.

For a non-native English speaker like me, I need to work harder to compete in the market than those who live in an English-speaking country.

When I read works, if I see one paragraph that gives me awe, I underline it or record it in my notebook. Then, I ask myself, “Why was I in awe? What did the author do to give me such a vibe in that chapter, in that paragraph, in that scene?”

J.K. Rowling repeatedly tells others how she wrote the best-selling novels — to keep reading. There’s no other best tool you can use to make your first novel shine and improve further from the first revision to the next.

Here’s a recommended reading app that helps you exactly that.

Conclusion – Start Writing A Novel While Working Full-Time

If your answers are clear, then you’re up to the game. It’s your turn.

I hope these 9 tips become beneficial for you to start or continue writing a novel while working full-time. But before you leave, I have assignments for you.

  1. Find your perfect story. The story you love to read over the over again.
  2. Create a list of books in three categories: the books I’VE READ, CURRENTLY READING, and WANT TO READ.
  3. After you listed the books in their respective categories, you start asking the tough questions. Why.

So, what now? Would you take action or not?

It’s up to you.

If you like this post, feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below. Don’t forget to share it with your friends and family. Thank you!

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