How Part-Time Novelists Can Avoid Distractions

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist

I know what it’s like to be a “part-time” novelist (a novelist who has to work at an outside job to pay the bills). After working for forty (or more) hours a week, you drag yourself home only to be faced with a mountain of chores. Tired to the bone, all you want to do is to flake out on the couch and watch TV or to curl up with a good book . . . which sucks up the time and energy you need to write your own book!

So how do you avoid distractions, especially when your time and energy are so scarce? If you’re like most part-time novelists, you probably do most of your writing on weekends. A helpful strategy for avoiding distractions is to not do anything else—reading the paper, shopping, doing chores, whatever—until you have written a certain number of pages.

Work alone if you can. Seclude yourself in a quiet room and close (or lock) the door. Tell family members that you can’t be disturbed for a certain period of time.

How long should that “certain period of time” be? I recommend limiting yourself to one or two hours of focused time. Write fast and don’t leave the room until you’ve finished a specific number of pages. When I was writing my novel, I didn’t let myself leave my bedroom until I had written a certain number of pages, usually 3 to 6, sometimes 8. That might not sound like much of an output, but over the course of a year, those 3 to 6 pages added up to a 74,000-word manuscript.

Before you leave the room (and after you’ve finished writing those pages), try to plan your next writing session. I used to do this by scribbling down a brief, point-form outline of the scenes I planned to write. If you end each writing session with this extra step, then your next writing session should be (relatively) quick, efficient, and painless.

Best of all, you’ll have plenty of time left to relax with family and friends . . . or scrub the toilet!

Want to Read More?

Ethan Waldman offers some practical ideas in his post “The Key to Distraction-Free Writing”: http://goinswriter.com/distraction-free-writing/

How do you avoid distractions when you sit down to write? Please post your tips!

 

Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at https://kathleenjones.org/ or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joneslepid

 

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photo credit: Curtis Gregory Perry, Old Televisions via Photopin (license)

How to Write Novels When You Work Full-Time

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for aspiring novelists is lack of time. Since it can be difficult for novelists to support themselves on their writing alone—especially unpublished novelists—most of them need to work at a full-time job just to pay the bills. That’s 35 or 40 hours gone every week, plus time spent commuting, taking care of children, doing household chores.

So how does a novelist with a full-time job find the time to write? The secret is carving out a block of time each and every week.

For most employed people, the best time to write, uninterrupted, is the weekend. When I was writing my own novel (while working at a full-time job), I tried to write every Saturday morning. Of course, life sometimes interfered, and I didn’t have the chance to write on Saturday mornings; when that happened, I rescheduled my writing session for Saturday afternoon or Sunday. The important thing was that I tried to write every (or almost every) weekend. I also tried to write in the same quiet place, alone, where I wouldn’t be distracted.

Each week, after I finished writing, I booked the next writing session in my day timer for the following Saturday. Then, after I finished writing each chapter (in long hand!), I typed and printed it out on my computer. After I left work each afternoon, I used the time spent commuting on the bus to review the printed pages for grammar, spelling, and sentence structure, and I made corrections (and reprinted the pages) when I got home.

Finally, I tried to set realistic deadlines for the various stages of creating a novel: writing an outline, doing research, completing drafts, and just about everything else. I booked each of these deadlines in my day timer so that I didn’t have an excuse to forget about them. Of course, I often had to revise these deadlines, but I was still able to complete an outline in four months, research in three months, and three drafts of the manuscript in three years.

So, it’s possible to complete a novel while working at a full-time job, but you need to commit the time (however small), space, and energy to make it happen.

Want to Read More?

Check out Ali Luke’s article, “How to Stay Sane While Building Your Writing Career Part Time,” at http://thewritelife.com/stay-sane-building-writing-career-part-time/

 If you wrote a novel while working at a full-time job, how did you make it happen? Your comments are welcome!

 

Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at https://kathleenjones.org/

or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joneslepidas

 

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photo credit: Alan Cleaver Time to go home via Photopin (license)