Thursday 22 September 2016

Hiding in the Garret – Seven Tips for writing novels while still gainfully employed

By Melodie Campbell (Bad Girl)

It’s a sad fact of life.  The gap between wanting to be an author, and actually becoming a published novelist is a huge crevice bridged by hard work and a lot of time.  Writing is a solitary job with no shortcut.  You become a writer by spending hours and hours alone in a room with your computer.

I wrote ten books in ten years, while working full time at an executive job.  People often ask me how I did it.  How?  How did I find the time?

It’s simple.  You have to make writing your hobby, your passion, and all you do in your spare time. 

Anyone can do it.  But it means making sacrifices.  Like it or not, if you want to be a published writer, and you don’t have anyone to support you financially while you write, time is going to be an issue. 

Writing takes time.  If you are going to write, you are going to have to give up something. Probably several somethings.

Here’s my list: 

1.  No television.  Those hours at night from 8-10 (or 10-12, if you have kids) are writing hours.

Okay, what do I truly mean by no television?  I allow myself one hour a day.  (Crime shows, of course!)  That’s it, on weekends too.  Sometimes I don’t take that hour. I write instead. 

2.  Forget the gym.  I know exercise is good for you.  But we have to make sacrifices, people!  I cut out every extracurricular activity that didn’t relate directly to writing.  No more hours at the gym. 

3.  Turn your cell phone OFF.  Until this year, I didn’t have a smart phone.  I had a dumb phone that just took calls.  Even now, when I write, the smart phone is in my purse in the hall.  Oh yeah – and I don’t pay for data on it.  This means, when I’m in a doctor’s waiting room, or on transit, I don’t surf the net.  I write. 

4.  Ignore those facebook alerts!  Turn them ALL off.  You can check your page at break time.  You don’t need to be notified for every post. 

5.  Make your vacation a writing vacation.  I cannot stress this enough.  If you are serious about becoming an author, then the prospect of two weeks with nothing to do but write should fill you with delight.  (If it fills you with anxiety, we have a problem.)
For me, there is no better vacation than going to a tiny villa in Arizona where there is fab weather but no resort distractions.  Going out for every meal.  And then coming back to sunny weather on the patio and writing.  And writing.  I get so much writing done on vacation.  It starts on the airplane. 

6.  Get a dog.  Yes, there is a tendency to overdo the author-recluse thing.  Having a dog will make you get outside for short walkie breaks (your new exercise.)  A dog will keep you company as you slog away at the computer.  And a dog is an essential audience for when you read your work out loud to test it.  My pooch thinks I’m talking/performing just for him.  Win-win. 

7.  Finally – and most important – collect friends who are writers.  As I look back on my writing career (27 years, 100 comedy credits, 12 novels, 40 short stories) I can see that my body of friends has changed over the years.  Most of my friends are fellow authors.  They encourage me.  Inspire me.  Rage with me.  Drink with me.  Most of all, they understand me.  Author-friends are the magic that keeps me writing.  God bless them.


  1. I've got four out of seven covered and one of them is being blessed with you as a friend. A drink to that? I raise my morning Chocolate Mint Smoothie to you!

  2. Oh, I need that recipe, Cindy! And I echo the sentiment.