How to Work and Write and Not Go Crazy

Finding a balance between following your dreams and working to pay the bills.

Writing is amazing if you love it. But for most of us trying to break into the business, it isn’t lucrative. (In fact, I wrote a whole dang post about things I do to manage my money specifically so writers can keep writing.) Maybe your novel will be the next big thing and get on Reese’s book club list, but the chances of that are slim, and in the meantime, you gotta pay the bills. Work comes first. And that’s okay.

In the past few years, I’ve had a myriad of jobs; service-oriented, administrative and editorial, and a few weird things in-between. Working full-time (while also balancing depression, anxiety, and PCOS, ugh) made the idea of coming home from work and writing seem utterly ludicrous. I imagine it’s the same for many of you.

Balancing life and a passion for writing is so freaking hard.

As I reflect on my past, working full time and writing, I’m surprised by how much I was able to get done. (Right now I’m living at home and not working and feel like I’m getting nothing done! Thanks, Covid-19 angst!). I had a whole slew of projects and was pretty productive on all of them. I realized that I had worked out a few little systems to balance my writing life with my work life. Again, it was hard; I wasn’t having the best time, but I knew I had to keep going up that mountain.

Here are some things I’ve learned that make the climb a little easier;

Write 100 Words (or 3-5 screenplay pages) before work.

(or after work, it’s your life)

Every day, sit down and try and write 100 words. It’s that simple. Usually, by the time you hit 100 words, you’re on a roll and can keep going until you lose steam. It’s not a lot of words, I get that. In fact, it’s a downright negligible amount of words if you’re trying to write a novel. Even then, sometimes 100 words can feel like pulling teeth. If that’s the case, hit your 100 and walk away; you’re still 100 words richer. (And if you’re one of my screenplay audience, 100 words is comparable to 3-5 pages of screenplay. If you can get 3 pages of screenplay done a day, you’ll have a 90-page screenplay in a month.)

It doesn’t have to be good either. Just getting the words on the page is an accomplishment. You can edit later

(And look, this section was about 130-ish words! See? it’s not that bad!)