By Amy Clipston
Unlike some authors, I work full-time for a local government, in addition to writing four or more books per year for HarperCollins Christian Publishing. In fact, in 2020, I managed to write three full-length books and four novellas while still maintaining my full-time job.
While other authors may write for 12 hours straight on a Monday, I roll out of bed at 6:30 a.m. to work from home until four in the afternoon. I’ve been working from home since March of 2020 due to the pandemic. Before the outbreak, I would pop up at 5:30 in the morning to commute to my office 20 miles away. Since my husband has battled chronic kidney disease and endured two kidney transplants, my family depends on the health insurance and steady pay my job provides.
Balancing two jobs has forced me to be disciplined when I am on deadline. Only once in my writing career have I asked for a deadline extension. My remaining books have been submitted to my editor either on time or early.
In order to meet my deadlines, I follow these rules:
- Keep a calendar
I use an old-fashioned day planner with a list of my upcoming deadlines taped inside. Aside from the dates my books are due to my editor, I also set my own deadlines, building in time to polish the book and send it to a couple friends, who graciously proofread for me. For example, my new book, The Jam and Jelly Nook, which releases May 3rd, was due to my editor on June 1st of last year. I finished the draft in April in order to give a couple of friends a month to proofread it for me before I sent it to my editor in late May.
- Stay organized
Most authors fall into one of two categories: Pantsers (seat-of-the-pants writers) or Plotters. I am most definitely a plotter. When I write a novel, I begin with a synopsis and then turn it into a detailed outline, arranged by chapter and scene. While writing, I use the outline as a road map to prevent the dreaded writer’s block. The outline will change and grow while I am writing, but it keeps me on track.
- Write whenever possible!
When I’m on deadline, I’ll write all weekend long, only taking short breaks to eat with my family before returning to my desk. I’ve been known to bring my laptop to Urgent Care and the Emergency Room when I’ve had to accompany a family member. It may seem trivial if you only have fifteen minutes, but even short amounts of writing time will add to your word count.
- Ask for help
Contrary to the rumors, I’m not Wonder Woman, and I can’t do it all on my own. I couldn’t balance this demanding schedule without my mother, who lives with my family and me. She keeps our household running so I can balance writing and working.
- Find time to rest
When I need a break, I enjoy watching movies with my family. The downtime helps me relax and also recharge my inspiration.
- Celebrate success
After finishing a draft of a book, I reward myself with doing something fun with my family. The journey through the first draft is mentally and physically exhausting, so I give myself time to relax and enjoy what I have accomplished.
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.Use these tips to stay on track with your writing deadlines while also working a full-time job. @AmyClipston #ACFWBlogs #writetip #critiques #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet
Amy Clipston is an award-winning and bestselling author and has sold more than a million books. She holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan University and works full-time for the City of Charlotte. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, mother, two sons, and five spoiled rotten cats. Amy’s current novel, The Jam and Jelly Nook, is the final installment in her Amish Marketplace series.