How to write a novel while working a full time job

Unless you're uniquely situated, you're likely trying to write a novel while doing other things. These other activities could include a job, or studying, running a zoo, creating a new kind of faster than light space travel, raising children, life or all of these at once. The good news is you're not alone. A lot of creative people work full time or raise families or are generally busy people. Because of this you may often find writers staring off into the distance looking like they are sleeping with their eyes open, with panda sleep-deprived faces, hallucinating, or generally wondering what other people do on a standard Friday night.

Sleepy Chandler trying to write a novel while working

Luckily! So many of us are and have been in this situation that there is a wealth of advice at your fingertips. Here are my top tips

1. Prioritise

Let's get something sorted: some of your life is going to have to suffer. That might be the laundry or it might be the super cool karate class you've been taking on the side. Not everything has to suffer, sometimes getting away from things helps stimulate the mind, but everything will need to suffer to some degree. Some people give up their social lives, some people quit their boating hobbies, it all depends. Something will have to go down the list, however, and if writing isn't pushed high up your list of priorities you can hardly be surprised when there's no time for it. I sacrifice laundry, my dreams of championship level ice skating, and the occasional few hours sleep for writing.

2. Make the most of it

Five minutes is obvs not enough time to complete your masterpiece but it is enough time to type down a scene or do some free flow writing. Lunch breaks can be hard to use but when I have them (rare tbh!) I try to use them for words. Even if it's a quick edit of something before I get pulled away, it's v useful.

3. Take breaks

It's so easy to burn out if you create a rigid schedule you can never waiver from. Learn to adjust and be flexible. Sometimes giving yourself a break can fuel not damper the words so don't be afraid to (occasionally) have adventures. Don't be afraid to reshuffle and flagrantly ignore your calendar reminders just as long as, at some point, you return to the words.

4.  Experiment

Not everything will work for everyone. Some people are 5am writers (have tried this and hahahahahah this is so not for me) and some people write while their kids are having a quick nap. It's okay to try, and the very fact you're striving to find what works around your life should be something you are proud of.

5. Don't be afraid to sleep

Sure, a little sleep deprivation never hurt anyone but occasionally, just sometimes, consider sleeping instead of prioritising all the things you need to do. Sometimes a sleepy writer is a bad writer (I mean sometimes not -- I've had some real great ideas at 3am in the morning).

How do you write around your life?