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How to be a Successful Part-Time Writer

Juggling a full-time schedule with part-time writing work.

By Jurgen Wolff | Posted August 20, 2007 | Updated June 30, 2019

Many people dream of giving up their job and being full-time writers, but it's not always practical, at least in the short term. But juggling a full-time job, family and personal obligations, and limited leisure time with writing is a major challenge. Here are six suggestions for how you can successfully do it all:

1. Make your writing time high-priority.

If you decide you'll write only when you have some extra time in your busy schedule, it's not going to happen. You have to carve out the time by making writing as high a priority as the most important other things you do. Make it clear to yourself and the others in your life that your writing time is to be taken seriously, not as a frivolous extra.

2. You can't make time, but you can clear time.

Your day is 24 hours long and deciding that you're going to write for a half hour a day isn't going to make it 24.5 hours long. You will  have to stop doing something else that takes a half hour a day now. Look at your schedule and decide what you're going to drop (good candidates are watching TV, reading the newspaper or magazines, and shopping, as well as anything else you can delegate to a partner, children, or someone you pay).

3. Set yourself a goal for every writing session.

At the start of each chunk of writing time, whether that's fifteen minutes or several hours, jot down what you intend to achieve. Then do the work. This helps you to focus your attention.

4. Reward yourself with the gold star system.

Remember how, in school, teachers used charts and gold stars to reward good behavior or achievement milestones? It works for adults, too. Draw up a chart that breaks your bigger writing goals into small steps, and each time you achieve a step, give yourself a check mark. This helps you to realize that you are making progress, even when it seems to be slow and you're a long way from the end.

5. Do whatever it takes to help you create the conditions you need in order to write.

Post a 'do not disturb' sign and makes sure the others in your life respect it. If that's not practical, go write in a coffee shop or the library. If you have a friend who also needs quiet time, swap baby-sitting times so each of you can get away. Be as creative about using your time well as you are in your writing.

All of these strategies require that you do a bit of re-training of yourself and the people around you, but when you hold your first book in your hands, or show friends the magazine that includes your short story or article, you'll know it was worth the effort.

©2007 Jurgen Wolff. All rights reserved.

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Jurgen WolffJurgen Wolff is a writer who teaches creativity and right-brain writing workshops around the world. He has written half a dozen books and his screen credits include the feature film, "The Real Howard Spitz," starring Kelsey Grammer and more than 100 produced episodes of various television series. ...

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