Tips/Tricks for getting some writing done while holding a full time job.

Discussion in 'Writing' started by AARoque, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. AARoque

    AARoque www.unityparadigm.com

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    Hi guys. First and foremost, a most humble hello and thanks for the time taken to reply. This is my first post, so I hope I've posted in the correct forum.

    I've been a long time sci-fi fan through different mediums, but I've recently dedicated myself to write my first novel and create a universe around it. It's been an eye opener process thus far, but the most import question I'd like to ask the community is what are some tips and tricks out there to get the time to actually do any writing while working a full time job?

    I'm a software engineer by trade, so that takes up a large portion of my work week and I'm also a husband/dad so I like to make provide some time for my family members. While I originally was very passionate about my story, I've found it more and more difficult to sit down and write for an extensive period of time.

    Any ideas that would help would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. aiasminor

    aiasminor Registered User

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    Welcome. I understand where your coming from. I am also a father, husband, and work in the IT field. I have some small programming projects on the side also, so between all that, reading and writing, time defiantly becomes a dwindling resource.

    I finished my first novel in 2010. I wrote in any stretch of time I had available that was long enough for me to turn on my computer and write down a few lines. If you have a smart phone, use that to write some notes of things you think about through the day or some lines of dialogue. Then you can transfer those notes. In the end the only way you'll get it done is just to write any chance you get. Remember, you do it because you enjoy it, not because you have to.

    Also, come and join us in the flash fiction thread. This will give you a chance to practice your writing and get feedback from the community. At the very least, you’ll get to read some interesting stories.
     
  3. AARoque

    AARoque www.unityparadigm.com

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    Those are all great ideas. I specially like the smart phone idea, as it keeps the story line fresh in your head. My main problem is continuity...even if I do scrape some time its limited to 2-3 hours and then I don't touch the manuscript again in a couple of days. I sense that keeping the story alive in my head is really important,s I'll definitely try this out.

    Also, thanks for the invite, I'll give the flash fiction thread a try. May I ask what was the title of the novel you wrote?
     
  4. Igor

    Igor Ze vriter

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    Writers should normally assume DINK lifestyle - double income no kids. Failing that, try to be as efficient as possible. I'm a code monkey too in a way, and I try to balance work and home as much as I can and then use every opportunity to write.

    Cheers,
    Igor
     
  5. N. E. White

    N. E. White tmso Staff Member

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    I suggest setting a schedule for yourself and sticking to it. I try to write between 7pm and 9pm (I have no kids, so this time period works for me). I also like to use the Promodoro technique. It just allows me the excuse to say no to any distractions until my 25 minutes are up. If I can get at least one 25-min writing session in a day, that seems to keep my projects moving forward. Also, don't worry too much if you miss a day here and there. Just be ready to take advantage of any unexpected free time.

    Good luck and welcome to the forum! :)
     
  6. kissmequick

    kissmequick bingley bingley beep

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    ???

    All (okay, almost all!) writers have other lives too, the trick is time management.


    Anyway, I hear you. I work, have two kids and a husband I like to see occasionally.

    Like anything else you want to do, you have to make the time for it. A lot will depend on how old your kids are - when mine were younger I'd write in the evenings after they were asleep. The husband was an easy matter - 'Dear husband, please bog off to the pub.' He rarely refuses....

    Now I work weird shifts, so I write when I can - often while the kids are at school, or late at night. Some writers I know get up an hour early and write before they go to work. An understanding other half is essential, but if they see it as any other hobby (it is a hobby to start with, really, or it was to me) well you should be able to arrange something. My husband for instance spends some time with the kids, taking them out on a Saturday so I can get some work done. Good for them and good for me. I gave up watching telly, and a few other things as I became more serious.

    You don't need to have hours and hours together in a block - you just need to be able to write regularly and, as important, thinking time while you aren't writing (I do this at work hehe). I know a lady who wrote a book pretty much entirely in her lunch half-hour.
     
  7. kmtolan

    kmtolan KMTolan

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    Old tricks are the best tricks

    You probably knew this already (grin).

    Schedule your writing time and stick to it. Doors shut. Distractions at minimum.

    Kerry
     
  8. Wilson Geiger

    Wilson Geiger Greymane

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    It's definitely a balancing act. Like some others here, I'm married, two school-age active kids, and work in an IT field that can dictate longer hours. If you want to write, and it's a priority, you have to make that time available. I learned this the hard way; I told myself for years that I'd have plenty of time to get it done. "Ok, not this week, but next week for sure!"

    I can tell you how that worked out.

    I'm 41-years-old now, and I finally got it. If you want to do it, you have to make the time. If it means staying up late, or turning the TV off, or getting up earlier, or not watching football, then so be it.

    Now, I generally stay up later, and use an hour or two after the kids are in bed. I lock myself in my room, or use my laptop in the TV room, but faced away from the TV, with a headset playing soundtrack music that helps to get me in whatever mood I need to be in to write that particular scene, or chapter.

    Wife's not always so understanding, but it's my dream to write, and succeed at it, so she deals with it. :)
     
  9. HellsGuardian

    HellsGuardian Locked in the Golden Cage

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    The problem for me isn't so much that I can lock myself in a room and type my story it's the fact that the internet is there always tempting me. And I do need it for on the fly research but sometimes I just end up "researching" for hours on end.
    Bah! I've such a short attention span.
     
  10. Wilson Geiger

    Wilson Geiger Greymane

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    There are writing tools I've seen for that, HG. I don't recall names exactly, but they block the internet while you're writing away, I think for specified amounts of time.

    I struggle sometimes too, as I use Wikipedia and lots of other sites for research. But with all things, there should be a time and place for it. Always the tricky part. :)
     
  11. aiasminor

    aiasminor Registered User

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    Unity Paradigm

    I read the back story of your book Unity Paradigm. It looks like you have a well thought out world. Great back story, but I still don't know what the book is going to be about. Can you give me an idea, in a short paragraph.

    The title of my book is Code Name: Atlas. Right now I'm stuck between deciding to write a second part or writing a different book. I'm leaning more towards writing a different book, to give Atlas more time to catch on.
     
  12. kissmequick

    kissmequick bingley bingley beep

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    There are ways round that too

    Tomorrow, as the kids are back at school, my husband will rig my PC so it cannot access the internet between 9am and 6pm. (EEP!) Yes, you need to do research sometimes, but it almost never has to be right this very minute. I generally leave a note to myself in the MS XX research street names in Brighton XXX or XXresearch bomb disposal detailsXXX and allocate some research time later. I find I can usually write the majority of the scene there and then and tweak later when I've done the research (if it's just a detail that won't change the plot for instance) - or research first if it's that important

    Keep research time and writing time separate, or if you're like me you end up link hopping for hours
     
  13. Modern Day Myth

    Modern Day Myth Registered User

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    My old reliable is to always have a pen and paper nearby, so when inspiration happens I can write it down.

    Some of my best inspiration happens during lunch time. When I am at work, no problem to pull out a pen and paper to have my notes for when I can get to my home computer.
     
  14. JRMurdock

    JRMurdock Where have I been?

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    I think the nail was hit on the head with scheduling.

    I'm also a father with an active teenage (school, volleyball, etc) and I have a job that requires a lot of my time. If I didn't schedule time to write, I'd never get any words written. Ever.

    I have a small amount of time before I start work, my lunch time, and an hour or two each night.

    A couple things you need to do is set up a schedule, set some goal, then communicate those goals with those who might interrupt you during those writing periods.

    As far as the Internet goes, if there is difficulty or temptation there, disconnect from the web. That's easy enough to do by literally pulling the plug of shutting off wi/fi on your PC or laptop. Once that's done, get a notepad and a pen or pencil and as you're writing when you get to a point that you need a character name, a piece of critical information, the year something was invented just put in ***LOOK UP LATER*** (or something that will help you identify the location easily) and make a note on paper what you need to look up. Once you're writing session is over or you've run out of gas, then take a few minutes to look those up.

    I've been a member of these forums for a long time. I've been writing for a very long time as well. This year I committed to writing as much as I could. I set a goal of 450,000 words. I'm currently at 319,000 and I feel I've been slacking off. I have multiple short stories out in the wild (either published or waiting to hear back) and a few books with a publisher (also waiting to hear word back). Setting goals, scheduling time, and communicating those to others have done wonders for my productivity. It's also done wonders for my self-confidence and productivity.
     
  15. RedMage

    RedMage It's not over now

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    Thank you KMQ and JRMurdock. Those are excellent suggestions about research! I often find myself sitting down and writing for twenty minutes before finding something I JUST HAVE to look up. Then I'm researching and checking email and forums for an hour or more before going back to the writing. I hate that I do that.

    I can't stand not having a character name though, so I will continue to look for those and use the lists of names I make for all my longer projects. But everything else can indeed wait. Perhaps it is the fear of forgetting exactly what it is I want to research at this specific spot that makes me look it up during my writing time? I think writing down that question on a separate pad of paper or different notebook will help. So thanks for that idea!
     
  16. kissmequick

    kissmequick bingley bingley beep

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    But first draft it doesn't have to be right (I'm a fair writer - but I'm better at rewrites! first get it written, THEN get it right) XXnote XX works because it;s easy to do a find for XX and get all your notes later.

    It's a form of procrastination. If you recognise it as such, and plan/schedule for it (because you do need to research) then you should be okay

    Really, I often think that a writer's main strength is a steely resolve to just write the damn book. Especially on the first draft.

    If the research is plot changing, do it first. If not, do it after and tweak. But research time IS NOT writing time.

    Self discipline (at which I am crap and so need my Old Man to restrict my internet etc) is required. If it's just a hobby, something fun to fill the time because you like it, that's different. But if you plan you do this as a profession (or even to do it as a serious hobby)...you need to treat it as such.
     
  17. JRMurdock

    JRMurdock Where have I been?

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    Just name a character Bob or Sue. Come up with simple names for characters until to do come up with a 'good' name. This helps you move past the stress of naming a character until the first draft is done. Same with cities, planets, etc. Find something simple, a friend's last name, home town, whatever to name something and make a note on that notepad about what you need to rename once you've gotten through your draft.

    This helps with productivity like you can't imagine. :)
     
  18. JRMurdock

    JRMurdock Where have I been?

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    If the research is plot changing, in my opinion, it should have been done before setting out down the path the story is taking. I realize that stories can change course during writing, but the core of the story should already be in place before starting (whether you outline or not) and you should know how to get from point A to point B.

    That's just my opinion.

    Again, this is something you can plan for. If you've set aside time for writing, you can easily take one of those writing sessions to perform the research you need if, as was noted, it's going to change the course of events in your story. If it's just research, leave that for the re-writes.
     
  19. AARoque

    AARoque www.unityparadigm.com

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    Thank you for the feedback, this is great. Interesting that you mention sending your husband off to the pub, I think that's one of my major challenges as my wife usually wants us to spend some time together relaxing during the week, whether it is to watch a movie or a TV series, but she usually doesn't go out during the week
     
  20. AARoque

    AARoque www.unityparadigm.com

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    As others have said, there are tools out there that will disable your net protocol stack so you have no access to the outside world for a certain amount of time. I'm not sure I remember the name but there is one for MAC OS that I researched one time (although I don't use it).