Do you plan to write a novel while working full-time?
I know you have lots of questions about whether it is possible to write a full-length novel while working a day job or not. The simple answer is yes.
It is possible to write any book, fiction or nonfiction, even after spending 8 hours working. But there’s a catch. Don’t set high expectations, and be open to possible outcomes.
Table of Contents
- How to Write a Novel While Working Full-Time?
- 1. Set a deadline to finish your novel.
- 2. Challenge limiting self-beliefs.
- 3. Never compare yourself with others.
- 4. Practice self-discipline.
- 5. Become a fan of using Field Notes.
- 6. Record your dreams.
- 7. Avoid distractions.
- 8. Love your novel.
- 9. Keep reading.
- Conclusion – Ready to Write A Novel While Working?
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.
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 can 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 relying on the book’s publication and its profits.
Nonetheless, it’s a tough situation. But it could be your creative breakthrough, especially if you’ve already given your all from the beginning.
How to Write a Novel While Working Full-Time?
Many established or self-published authors had done the same thing when they debuted. Based on personal experience, I came up with 9 simple ways to start writing the story you love while you keep that tedious job, such as:
- Set a deadline to finish your novel.
- Challenge disbelief.
- Never compare your success with others.
- Practice self-discipline.
- Keep a notebook with you to record ideas while on the road.
- Always record your dreams.
- Avoid distractions.
- Love your novel so much.
- Keep reading.
1. Set a deadline to finish your novel.
How long will you finish your novel? In one month or two months, or within 6 months?
While working full-time, you’re too busy trying to accomplish the tasks that day, and you’re burned out to write another page when you go home.
Others finish their first drafts of the manuscript within weeks. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. You can speed up the book writing process when you’re aware of when you plan to finish it.
Honestly, you’ve got a good alibi not to write, so setting a deadline for your novel is very important. This will give you a sense of urgency to finish your book faster.
So, you 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 finish it in a rush, which doesn’t mean you won’t write fast. Most writers can’t finish anything because they don’t the feeling they need to.
When I wrote Accidental Quest, I had lots of tasks with different deadlines, and finishing the manuscript almost had me passed out. It all boils down to “why.” Instead, I 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 freelancer, it’s too tiresome. But then again, I step out and reflect as I review why I started this journey.
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.
Writing a novel isn’t an easy feat. On the contrary, it enchants you, especially when you type in the last word of the last chapter or the book’s epilogue.
In 2017, I began writing my novels, failing 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 books, I was surprised to have the stories finished.
Each book has around 60,000 words, and the other 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.
3. Never compare yourself with others.
Jealousy and envy are 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 in your unique writing journey. The only thing you can duplicate is the success itself.
More important is your small progress towards your end goal: finishing a novel. Your first draft, which you will keep revising until it’s polished. This process takes a while. I discourage you from comparing your progress to others because feeling bad doesn’t get you anywhere.
No author has had similar successes. Each writer will have a 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 are making slow progress. You have your 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 your readers.
Writing good stories is beyond collecting several reads and the income you earn from them. If you’re so into these things, you lose 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 a world for your readers to meet your characters.
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. For instance, I wake up daily and write around 2,000 words before doing 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.
During the weekends, I do the same thing. There are many times I sacrifice my time with my family because of my writing. I must finish a chapter or two before doing anything at home, like doing the laundry, etc.
If my relatives invite me to a birthday party, 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 progress. Although they’re small, it is progress.
5. Become a fan of using Field Notes.
If you have a novel idea while you’re away from your laptop or typewriter, it’s easy to jot down the ideas you use for writing later. You need to keep a notebook inside your bag, like Field Notes, for example.
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 asked me what things I would write down if I weren’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.
Only when I was 22 years old did I begin 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 walked along the park, ideas come in. So, having that small notebook or something to write on is essential to novelists like us.
One of the most regrettable events is having nothing to record ideas simply because I forgot my notebook when I had the novel concept in mind. It happened after I woke up at 2:00 am.
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 have 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. 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. On the other hand, J.K. Rowling’s first meeting with Harry Potter was at a train when she saw a young boy passing by after daydreaming.
Many stories like this 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, 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.
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 I am, etc., while I write. These events are uncontrollable, but you must, if you can, control them.
I turn off my social media when I start writing (like this post right now) and reserve time for it after I finish my goal, my word count.
Because of my full-time job, I have to implement flexibility regarding my writing schedule. Sometimes I write in the morning after I wake up, sometimes at night before I go to bed.
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.
He reserves a space for me—an office—to work on my tasks undisturbed. I appreciated his efforts and couldn’t help but fall in love with him more.
If you’re not in the same situation as I am, make plans ahead wherein you can spare sometime 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. Let your husband understand your writing schedule at night after you send your kids to bed.
Though your life as an author requires and demands a lot of your time, never let that affect your family’s relationship because you make writing an excuse for your absence in their daily life.
You make sure you spend enough time with them, your children, your husband, and your family 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 to attain your goals, regardless of where 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 your closest friends, you witness the event and write it down. It’s always like that.
Your characters may change, but you put your reflection on these characters. Always. This is why it’s essential to write your novel, even if it’s your first, you love it. It should speak your heart, not because it’s the trend.
To check whether you love your novel as much as I do 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 juggling your day 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 on weekends?
9. Keep reading.
I bet you hear many authors telling you to keep reading to improve your writing. It’s true. You can’t be better if you don’t read.
Reading allows you to expand and explore your ideas about how other authors present the story and how they develop the characters in their style.
Keep in mind that it’s not copying their technique but providing you with more opportunities to improve your storytelling skills.
You know I’ve been writing for more than 10 years. However, it’s only when I read books from different authors and different genres that it gives me valuable improvement in how I write.
True. I study their techniques, words, phrases, and presentation, specifically the story development, in such a way it’s beautifully crafted.
When I read works, if I see one paragraph that gives me awe, I underline it or record it in my notebook. Then, I asked 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 with precisely that.
Conclusion – Ready to Write A Novel While Working?
Overall, these 9 tips can be beneficial for you. Whether you’re a complete beginner or established, do you think you’re ready to write a novel while working various day jobs?
But before you leave, I have assignments for you:
- Find your perfect story. Identify the book titles or genres you love to read repeatedly.
- Create a list of books in three (3) categories: the books I’VE READ, am CURRENTLY READING, and WANT TO READ.
- After you list the books in their respective categories, you start asking the tough questions. Know your whys.
Now, it’s your turn. Would you take action or not? It’s up to you. You’re up to the game if you think you know the answer.
If you like this post, share your thoughts in the comment section below. Don’t forget to share it with your friends and family. Thank you! See you at the next one. 🙂