Friday, July 19, 2013

Steven O’Connor – Five Ways to Integrate Your Writing

Five ways to integrate your writing and your paid job

by Steven O’Connor

Very few writers earn enough money from their writing endeavors to write fulltime, yet we write on anyway. And for countless reasons. Because we are passionate about writing. Because we love creating new worlds and immersing ourselves in them, exploring the characters who might inhabit them, exploring their minds, their emotions, their relationships, and the challenges they face. For these reasons and more – beyond making money – writers write. Most of us earn a living elsewhere.

However writing, and all the extra things it involves these days, such as promotion and maintaining some form of internet presence, can be a consuming thing. So it’s best done in a manageable, ongoing way. But how does one go about integrating your writing work and your paid work?

I work as a professional social worker and I’m as passionate about my paid work as I am about my writing. I have worked in a range of hospitals and I am currently working with schools. Below is how I personally go about it.

1. Go part time!

OK, so I have started with a big one. Not all of us can afford to do this, but if you’re committed to your writing, you really should think about it. I have been four days a week in my paid job for years now. Three days is what I would prefer, but as a father in a busy family, I simply can’t afford to do that.

I never think of my day away from my paid job as my day off. That’s the wrong attitude. It’s my writing day. And it’s in the middle of the week, a Wednesday, to avoid the notion of a long weekend – which I fear could happen if I made it a Friday or a Monday.

2. Write continuously – at least daily

I strongly recommend you don’t fall into the black-and-white routine of only writing on allotted days or during specific timeslots. Routine is good, but seizing random moments is critical to my maintaining a writing flow. Cultivating a practice of writing whenever, even if it’s just a short burst, can significantly save me time as there is little to no time and energy wasted in trying to re-establish myself with my writing project when it comes to one of my bigger writing sessions. If you’ve ever left a sizeable gap between your writing sessions, you’ll know exactly what I mean. It can be a struggle to re-establish your rhythm.

3. Keep in touch with fellow writers and potential readers during travel time

Daily, I have so many email notifications coming into my inbox emanating from various social media spaces. That’s all part of the modern writer’s life. Picture this: chilly morning at a bus stop, my breath in the air and my iPhone in my hand as I quickly check out the latest blog post from a fellow indie writer. Then taking my gloves off (brrr) to write a quick comment.  (Be careful here! Typo alert.)

I really do need to do this kind of thing if I’m going to stay in touch with what’s happening, as well as maintain some visibility with others. Warning however! Keep one eye on the lookout, in case that bus zooms right on by.

And obviously don’t do this if you drive to work.

4. Keep tabs on your social media during work breaks

At lunch time, I’m often clocking into Facebook and twitter to see what’s happening. This need only take 15 minutes or so. I might do one or two tweets and shares. This can also be a good time to read one of the more detailed posts from celebrated indie author protagonists such as Joann Penn, Orna Ross or David Gaughran. Or read part of an ebook about writing.

5. Email ideas to yourself

This is a throughout-the-day thing and a total must if you’re a writer. Forget those fellow writers who might say this is cheesy. So many good ideas, plot quirks, interesting phrases (often tossed off by colleagues or others and caught by discerning you) and complete sentences come to me at the oddest moments – often during a meeting, funnily enough. Get them into your iPhone and emailed off to yourself! And they’ll be there, ready for you when you sit down at your writing desk and throw yourself back into your writing in a big way.

These are just some of the strategies I employ to help my writing activities to be a continuous flow. Hopefully, I’ve got you thinking about the things you do (or could do). I’m sure there are many more ideas. I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Steven O’Connor writes young adult fiction with a futuristic bent. His writing is influenced by Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), Blade Runner, Dr Who, and just about every sci-fi film and TV show you could possibly think of. His EleMental and MonuMental ebooks are available through Amazon.


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Genre – Young Adult / Science Fiction

Rating –PG

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  1. Very practical ideas on time management for a writer .(I do e-admin on the tram because I cant get off inbetween)