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Building Your Writing Career While Working Full Time

by Lisa Jordan

For the past 15 years, I’ve owned and operated my own state-registered in-home childcare program. My days are very busy and extremely noisy, but I reap many incredible blessings.

In 2011 I received my first publishing contract, so for the past two years, I’ve been juggling my day job with my night job. After dinner ends, I head to my laptop and spend a couple of hours adding words to my manuscript.

Most of the writers I know work full time-inside (yes, stay-at-home parents, this means you too) or outside the home-care for families, maintain church responsibilities and try to get enough sleep so they’re not zombies the next day. Whether you’re single or married, if you’re working full time, trying to build your writing career may seem incredible.

So how are writers able to find the time to write while working full time?

Many of them don’t have time, but the majority of them make the time to write.

This year at ACFW, I taught my first workshop-Building Your Writing Career While Working Full Time. At that time, I shared different elements that work for me to manage dual careers, family and other life obligations.

Brian Tracy said, “Goals in writing are dreams with deadlines.”

Fitzhugh Dodson said, “Without goals, and plans to read them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.”

With that in mind, setting S.M.A.R.T. goals helps you to achieve them.

Specific- make sure you know what you want to accomplish and you know what is at stake.
Measurable- have a way to track your goal.
Attainable- ensure your goal fits within your abilities and lifestyle.
Realistic- maintain realistic expectations to reach your goal.
Timely- set a start and stop date so you have focus while striving to reach your goal.

In addition to setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, be sure you’re prepared for handling a writing career while maintaining your full time job.

Be flexible- life happens. Have a backup plan in case life knocks you down. Also, be willing to ask for help.
Organize your time- write down what you need to do each day, the organize it according the highest priority. Then delegate household tasks among family members to free up more writing time.
Learn to say no- resist the urge to add more tasks to your already crazy schedules. Once you take control of your time and set boundaries, you will help others to take you more seriously.
Schedule writing time- add this to your calendar like an appointment and let your family and friends know this is dedicated writing time. You’re more apt to follow through than waiting until you have time to write.
Manage deadlines- schedule realistic deadlines to help you achieve them without losing your mind.
Build relationships- forging real friendships with other writers and industry professionals may open new opportunities down the road.

Finding the time to write while balancing other life obligations is necessary in order to meet your dreams and deadlines. Building a writing career while working full time can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Just remember-God has called you down this path, and if you surrender your dreams and to-do lists to Him, He will work on your behalf to open those doors in His perfect time.

LisaJordan2x3HeadshotRepresented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such, Lisa Jordan is an award-wining contemporary Christian romance author for Love Inspired. She believes in promises of hope and happily ever after and threads those themes into her stories. Learn more about her at www.lisajordanbooks.com.

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This entry was posted in Advice, Authors and writing, Encouragement, Friends of ACFW, tips, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Building Your Writing Career While Working Full Time

  1. Ron Estrada says:

    Good post, Lisa. I’ve been at this for about ten years now, off and on. The “off” portions came about because I tried to fit more into my schedule than reality would allow. In my case it was politics (it will eat your life). Most of us have many things we’d love to become involved with, especially where church is involved. We have to learn to say “no” to those activities that don’t move our writing careers forward. It’s tough. There’s a lot of pressure to “make a difference” somewhere else. We have to remind ourselves that this is where God has placed us. Just because what we do is invistible to the rest of the world most of the time doesn’t make it any less important. So now my hour or two of “spare time” each night is spent writing (except for Mondays, of course, when I’m cracking lame jokes at MBT). You have to be a little selfish to make this writing gig work. I’m glad I made the decision to cast aside the other responsibilites that have kept me from the keyboard. I have to listen to God. He’s got other servants to fill the roles I’ve said “no” to. Stay focused on the calling. That’s all I can do.

  2. Lisa Jordan says:

    Ron, you’re so right in what you say about staying focused on the calling. We can’t be all things to all people, so we need to focus on pleasing the One who called us to write.

    By the way, MBT loves your lame jokes. ;)

  3. I attended your workshop at ACFW in Indianapolis a couple of weeks ago. I was amazed that you’re able to juggle so much. I’m not a published novelist yet, but I’m using the information you presented to get my second manuscript completed by summer. I thought your presentation was excellent and the information very valuable. Thank you for sharing your blessings!

  4. Lisa,
    Thanks for this wonderfully practical post. As a full-time pastor who is also a writer, I can so relate to what you’ve written. Thanks again.

  5. Beth K. Vogt says:

    Lisa,
    You practice what you preach, Lisa — and I know you encouraged a lot of people during your workshop at ACFW.

  6. I’ve always been amazed at how you juggle all you do and find time to write! But then, you are A-maz-ing! Great post. One I plan to print out and read again!

  7. Beckee says:

    My sixth kid is on the way (all 11 and under) and I work 70% of full time. My free 1 hour at night is spent reconnecting with my husband. Any ideas?