Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Juggling Act: Working Full-time and Writing


By Amy Clipston


People often ask me, “How do you work a full-time job and write books?” Since my mother raised me to have manners, I resist the urge to roll my eyes and instead sweetly reply with, “I just make it work.”

Unlike many authors, I work a full-time for a local government, in addition to writing four books per year for HarperCollins Christian Publishing.

While other authors may write for 14 hours straight on a Monday, I pop out of bed 5:10 a.m. and rush to a job located 20 miles from my home. Since my husband has battled chronic kidney disease, my family depends on the health insurance and steady pay my job provides.

Balancing two jobs has forced me to be disciplined. By working 10 hours per day, Monday through Thursday, I enjoy Fridays off. Although the workdays are long, I receive my reward at the end of the week. I use my Fridays off to write, run errands, or do something really special, such as volunteering at my sons’ schools.

Only once in my writing career have I asked for a deadline extension. My remaining books were submitted to my editor either on time or early. In order to meet my deadlines, I follow these rules:

1. Keep a Calendar
I carry an old-fashioned day planner with a list of my upcoming deadlines taped in the back. I also set my own deadlines, including when I plan to send the first draft to my agent for comments, which is normally a month before the book is due to my editor. I also build in time for proofreading and polishing.

2. Stay organized
Most authors fall into one of two categories: Pantsers (seat-of-the pants writers) or Plotters. I am most definitely a plotter. I start off with a synopsis, and after my editor approves it, I turn it into an outline arranged by chapter and scene. I use the outline as a road map to prevent the dreaded writer’s block.

3. Write whenever possible!
I fit in writing at every available moment. Some nights I write until midnight. I write on weekends while my sons are busy playing videogames. Writing isn’t without guilt, but I do something special with my family after the books are complete.

4. Ask for Help
Contrary to the rumors, I’m not Super-Woman, and I can’t do it all. I couldn’t balance this demanding schedule without my mother. She keeps our household running so I can write.

5. Find time to rest
When I need a break, I enjoy watching movies with my mother and sons, and I relish listening to audio books in my car while I commute to and from work. The downtime helps me relax and also recharge my inspiration.

Although working two jobs isn’t ideal and sometimes it’s no fun at all, I enjoy my reward when I hold a new book in my hands.
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Amy Clipston has been writing for as long as she can remember. Her fiction writing “career” began in elementary school when she and a close friend wrote and shared silly stories. She has a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and is a member of the Authors Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America. She is the author of the bestselling Kauffman Amish Bakery series and Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series with HarperCollins Christian Publishing. Amy works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC, and lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, mother, and four spoiled rotten cats. Amy Clipston Social Media List: Website: amyclipston.com  Twitter: @AmyClipston  Instagram: amy_clipston


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