I recently reached out on my Instagram (@LiamXavier95) and asked for any writing advice questions so I could answer them in full here!… It worked better in theory than in practice, but we did get one question! (shout out to you) and it’s a cracker: “How Do I Write When I Work So Much?!”.
It’s a common issue, and one that any writer before they succeed has to resolve, but how?
Well, let’s start with my own story (this is a blog after all)…
I started writing around 2003 but it was only ever as an expression of trauma. I wrote to feel better. I wrote when I felt like it and when I needed to. I was also a child, I had hobbies and I had school but, generally speaking, I had time to write. Then I grew up and writing became a large part of my life: playwriting, poetry, short stories. I decided I wanted to make a career out of it. As the reader who asked this question undoubtedly knows, when you pass a certain age it is no longer as simple as that.
Full-time jobs fuck it all up, in short.
Suddenly you have to make a concentrated effort to write, you have to get home from a long day at work and then force your mind into inspiring masterful creativity. It’s exhausting.
I felt demotivated, I felt uncreative, I felt like I had no time left to write.
The approach you take in these tiresome times decides a great deal of the trajectory of your career and the stability of your mind.
Be patient. (stop rolling your eyes, I know it’s cliché but there’s a reason for that)
Patience is the strongest ability to have: Patience in yourself to write when you can, and patience in life to deal you with a positive hand eventually. Some might just say to quit your job and go part-time or work somewhere else but not everyone has the privilege to do that with ease. Patience is what helps in the meantime.
Do not overthink creativity.
“It was in that room too that I learned not to think about anything that I was writing from the time I stopped writing until I started again the next day. That way my subconscious would be working on it and at the same time I would be listening to other people and noticing everything.” – Ernest Hemingway
The above quote is long and perhaps a little unnecessarily wordy – though this was Hemingway’s charm – but it makes an important point. If we spend so much time thinking about what we need to write, or about the fact we’re not writing, we miss out on the greatest inspiration: life, people. If you are struggling to write, rest. Walk around and see the world, listen to people and talk. If you have written 3 sentences, you have still accomplished something, now go out and let nature and wildlife enlighten your senses so those 3 sentences may become something greater. Staying inside, forcing inspiration and forcing creativity only throws a pale of water on the lit wick. Yes, you eventually have to have some discipline, but while your body and mind is already taking a beating from work, you have to tread with caution.
What are you giving up?
How much of the effort you are putting into your job is appreciated? It’s a question that’s helpful to ask yourself. You are giving up a huge amount of time away from your writing to earn money and to keep you going til your dreams can come true, so the way that job makes you feel makes a difference. Work hard as ever so you have the ability to rise above, and to stay stable but remember that your health matters above all else. If you are dying inside and losing your energy for a job that does not appreciate you, do only what is minimally needed of you. It’s a general piece of advice for working in retail or high-pressure jobs, but it’s also a piece of advice for writing (If you increase your energy, inspiration will come easier)
It is not hopeless
Goodness, this one is difficult to believe, but it’s true. Dealing with your writing may seem like a small thing, but it affects your morale; if this is your dream, not finding the time is going to break your heart. But it’s not hopeless and there is no rush. Working hard and working long hours is a painful existence sometimes, and getting home can leave you deflated and totally pessimistic. But I say again, it is not hopeless. So long as you have a slither of hope in your body; in the words of someone who supports you; in the creeping optimism at the back of your mind, you will succeed.
Take it step-by-step, and know when you’re trying to do too much. Understand that some of the world most famous writers had moments when they only wrote a sentence a day. Remember that all of these classics, these people that you look up to for inspiration, had moments of deep depression and deep demotivation. Every writer in their life has gone through things you may be going through. At the same time, every writer’s journey is different and your pace is not the same as another.
Deal with the personal shit.
Finally, with a large amount of work and a dream to turn into a reality, you have to deal with the personal shit. Whether that’s allowing yourself to write any old crap that helps you to express the things that swim around in your head or seeking therapy, you have to take care of your mind. For the sake of your health and your work, dealing with the things that are bothering you about life will inevitably increase your optimism and productivity.
Life is a wonderful thing and you have to give yourself a chance to see it. You have to allow yourself to inherit the inspiration to write from the freedom of living. In order for you to do that, above all else, you have to live by your gut. If it hurts, find out why and see if there’s something you can do. If writing too much is driving you insane, stop for today. If there are things that will help you survive the banality of work and won’t affect your health, do them.
Remember, in this career, there are mistakes and heartaches, stress and insanity but so long as you have yourself, a confidante beside you, a pen and a pad, then you have the tools to make the life you desire.
Breathe, drink water and keep trying.
Make sure to follow me on Instagram ready for more questions at a later point!