Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How to Balance Your Writing and Your Day Job – Part 1: Set a Goal

Unless you’re independently wealthy, you have one.

Love or hate it, you do it every day. In fact, you spend the most time out of your life -- with the possible exception of sleep -- doing it.

It’s your day job.

Your day job is what keeps you (and your family) sheltered, clean, fed, and otherwise off of the streets.

But you also want to be a writer. Possibly, you already are. You just need someone to notice your writing and give you some money for doing it. That is your dream. So how do you achieve your dream, in the face of the time and energy commitment required by your job?

You need to do your day job. No two ways about it. Without this dedication of eight (or more) hours a day, you would not survive. So you are stuck with those eight hours, give a take a few, plus the time you spend getting to that job every day, called the dreaded commute.

Set a goal

In your day job, it’s easy to know what you’re striving towards. Often, your boss or supervisor tells you what your goals are in so many words. They may be measurable – so much the better – in a statistic, or a win in court, or just finishing the work day without any major problems.

When the subject is your writing career (or lack thereof), it’s much harder to measure that success, particularly if you haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about what you want to ultimately achieve. Daydreaming about collecting the Pulitzer Prize for Literature may or may not count.

Without a definite goal in mind, it’s easy to drift. Trust me, I know. I spent a lot of time daydreaming (and, fortunately, writing too) but I didn’t take any time to find out what to do with my growing pile of manuscripts.

What is it you hope to achieve from your writing? In other words, what is your writing goal?

Come on, you must have one. Perhaps you want to win a big writing contest or prize. Maybe you just want to see your name on the cover of a book – your book.

It’s likely you’ve just never articulated that goal, even to yourself, much less taken the time to write it down.

Do that now.

It’ll take five minutes to do and you can even find the time to think about it on the train, or in the car while you’re stuck in traffic. It will take even less time to jot your goal down in a notebook.

Once you have it written down, make that goal visible and make it tangible. Inbed it into your brain. You will come back to it. Very soon.

Photo courtesy of Pixomar at freedigitalphotos.net

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