How To Write A Novel While Working Full Time (Without Going Crazy)

…or at least, without going crazier than you were to begin with.

At the time I was writing my current novel, I had a full-time job with a “flexible” schedule (flexible, in this case, meaning, “You will never be able to maintain any kind of regular sleep schedule while you have this job.”)  I wrote the first and second drafts (65,000-ish words) with said full-time flexible schedule.  Most writers have to have so-called “real jobs” to pay the bills, and it can be really frustrating when you feel like earning money is holding you back from progressing with your art.  The Sara D method for getting around that is:

1.  Pick a storyline that has a lot of potential for fun, excitement, and escapism from real life.

2.  Come up with characters you ENJOY spending time with.  They don’t have to be nice people, but they should be fun for you, the writer, to spend time with.  You want them to be interesting enough for readers to want to spend time with them, right?

3.  Set a nice, low word-count goal for yourself.  My daily goal was 250 words, because even on an insanely hectic day, I could almost always get that much writing done.  Why a small goal?  Because (a) it feels good to get it done on busy days, (b) it feels even better to surpass it on days when you’ve got more time and/or are on a roll, and (c) if you’re so tuckered out that what you’ve written on a particular day completely stinks, it isn’t a huge setback to scrap 250 words and write a new 250 words in its place.

4.  Do your word count as often as you possibly can, don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day, and enjoy the escapism of spending time away from real life WHILE doing something productive.

5.  DO NOT EDIT WHILE WRITING YOUR FIRST DRAFT.  That’s what the second draft is for.  Get the story down first.  Clean it up and flesh it out later.  Your inner editor will inhibit your creativity if you unleash it on the rough draft.

At least, this is what worked for me, and I don’t THINK I’m any crazier than I was before I wrote this book.  I was already pretty far gone to begin with.  😉

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