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The Fine Art of Juggling: Fitting Writing into the Rest of my Life

jugglerI work full-time. During the first four months of 2013, I was also studying part-time for a masters, launching my first book, Pantomime, and had my deadline for the sequel, Shadowplay. That was a very difficult four months. Despite that, though, I managed to work on writing nearly every day, no matter how much work/school work I had. Sometimes it was only for ten minutes before bed, scribbling in a notebook, but it was something. When people tell me “oh, if only I had the time to write a book” I smile thinly at them, biting my tongue. You’re unlikely to ever have more free time than you do now – we’re all busy folk. Most of us can’t quit our jobs, foist kids on relatives, stop cleaning our house and tap madly at the keyboard, growing progressively less groomed and possibly less sane as we create our magnum opus. If you really want to, there’s so many ways to fit writing into your life.

I keep trying to train myself to get up and write before work in the morning. I can usually manage it maybe once a week, and the rest of the time I groan vaguely at my phone and turn off the alarm. If I can drag myself out of bed, I’m usually fairly productive for the hour or so before I have to get ready to go to the office. I’ll also write on my lunch break, finding an empty room in the office and scribbling away. After work I’ll either go to Starbucks sometimes or write at home. On the weekends, I usually go to the gym then hang out in the café for a few hours. I’ll make it social. About once a week I write with two of my friends, sometimes I go to the meetings of the local writing club, but most often my husband and I go to the café together, like really anti-social dates where we sit across from each other in silence but for the tapping of the keys.

Now, that doesn’t mean I’m writing 3 or 4 hours a day, every day. I wish, but it’s not really feasible. I probably write about an hour or two a day, then do another hour of promo/what have you. So let’s say 15 hours during the week and maybe 5 or 6 hours on the weekend. So I aim for about 20 hours of work a week, which, on top of another 40 hours, can get tiring. Often I’ll wonder how much more I’d get done if I did have more time for it. I worry I’ll burn out – zap the creativity.

But, for the foreseeable future, I’ll be working full-time. I’ve trained myself to take advantage of little snippets of time. I’m not a hare when it comes to drafting and writing. I’m a tortoise. But by chipping away almost every day at stories, by the end of this year I’ll have written about 150,000 words of prose, edited Shadowplay thrice, and done a fair amount of promotional posts like this as well as a few events. It’s tiring, but at the same time, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

And who knows what the future holds – maybe eventually I’ll have more time and will be able to create more stories.

laura_lam Laura Lam
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Laura Lam was raised near San Francisco, California, by two former Haight-Ashbury hippies. Both of them encouraged her to finger-paint to her heart’s desire, colour outside of the lines, and consider the library a second home. This led to an overabundance of daydreams.

She relocated to Scotland to be with her husband, whom she met on the internet when he insulted her taste in books. She almost blocked him but is glad she didn’t. At times she misses the sunshine.

Her YA fantasy, Pantomime, debuted in February 2013 through Strange Chemistry Books, with the sequel, Shadowplay, following in January 2014. She can be found on www.lauralam.co.uk or on Twitter as @LR_Lam.

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About Laura Lam

Writer, Reader, Ex-pat.

9 comments on “The Fine Art of Juggling: Fitting Writing into the Rest of my Life

  1. barbarahenderson
    January 6, 2014

    Hi Laura, a really great post. I too juggle work, parenthood and writing and it’s tough – so it’s very interesting to see how others do it, and I really admire your self-discipline!

  2. Abi Burlingham
    January 6, 2014

    I completely get this – I teach and am a mum and it is really difficult to find the time to write too. But, as you say, we have to don’t we? I have tried, and failed, to do early morning writing, but I seem to function quite well in an evening. If I get to sit down by 7ish and do a couple of hours 4 or 5 times a week, I’m happy… and there are always those random jottings in notepads too!

    • Laura Lam
      January 6, 2014

      Exactly – it all adds up! I also find I’m getting faster at drafting the more practice I have. Though my first drafts aren’t getting better – in fact, they’re worse. But that’s because I’m not as scared of getting it perfect the first time.

  3. Isabel Thomas
    January 6, 2014

    I really enjoyed this Laura, it’s so true that the less writing time I have the sharper and more creative my writing gets. Perhaps having far too many children was a subconcious career strategy!

    • Laura Lam
      January 6, 2014

      True! Word sprints can work well! I’ll also think about scenes etc while I’m at the gym or work, so when I do sit down to write I’m able to bash out the words fairly quickly.

  4. Pingback: The Shadowplay Blog Tour |

  5. orthodoxmom3
    January 7, 2014

    Thank you. This topic really needs addressed! I struggle so much to find time to write but I am making a huge effort to do so!

  6. Pingback: The Fine Art of Juggling: Fitting Writing into the Rest of my Life … | Helena Domenic Fine Art

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