Articles / On Writing

Treating Your Writing Like A Full-Time Job


Recently, I edited a book where one of the main characters, a musician, spent several months treating his songwriting as a full-time job. He would get up, spend eight hours a day writing songs—some better than others, obviously—and then he’d call it a day, have dinner, and start again the next day. It forced the artist to focus on his craft, to make the most of his talent whether or not the muse was speaking to him, and he was a better songwriter for it.

I thought this was a great concept. Now I’m not sure how many musicians work this way, but I know a lot of authors who work in a similar fashion. Some focus on word count, others focus on hours, but the concept is the same. Treat your writing like a full-time job in order to be as successful as you can be. And it makes perfect sense to me.

So I wondered, if you’re treating your writing as a full-time job (because it really is, geez) what steps should you take in your daily life to facilitate this?

And since I’m a meticulous list maker, I came up with a list:

  • Set aside a series of hours each day you’ll work; it doesn’t have to be eight, but that’s most full-time parameters.
  • Ensure you have a work area strictly for your writing. Not the kitchen table or the couch, but somewhere dedicated to your book, if possible.
  • Plan for breaks. Employees are usually allowed miscellaneous breaks and an hour for lunch; give yourself a chance to shut down.
  • Establish a pattern and stick to it. Start at the same time each day, end at the same time.
  • Unless you’re doing your own marketing, stay off social media! Your boss wouldn’t allow you to aimlessly surf Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter at work… well, now you’re the boss. Rein it in.
  • Set manageable goals, assess them, and reevaluate them as needed.
  • Write. Write something. If your characters aren’t speaking to you, work on outlines or synopses or write something else. Keep honing your craft.
  • When your day is done, stop. Save your work. Make some notes for tomorrow. Go do something fun.

This won’t work for everyone. It probably won’t work for most, to be honest. But if you manager better when there is structure, give it a try. I’d love to hear from anyone who’s done it, is doing it now, or is willing to give it a shot.

Happy writing!


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