How to Be a Writer with a Day Job: Part 3 – Making Progress

The one thing I have been struggling with most lately, as a writer with a rather demanding day job, is progress. What do I mean by progress? To me, progress means writing a page of new words, rewriting a book scene by scene, or sending something out on submission. It means moving further along on the path toward finishing something. But lately, I’ve been standing in a deep puddle of stagnated water, the finish line far, far away.

I’ve been here before, I know how to get out of it. But when I come home from work exhausted and tired of computers (already having stared at one for 8 hours), sometimes I just want to curl up and binge watch Grey’s Anatomy (after not watching for a couple years, I’m three seasons behind and have a lot of episodes left to go! Tempting!)

As a writer with a day job, exhaustion can be your worst enemy. There are many ways to try to combat this, ways you can trick yourself into sitting down in your desk chair with your writing computer and start. Not all of the following suggestions will work for everyone—they certainly don’t all work for me. But if you try them all, hopefully, you’ll find one that works. Because one of the most important things about being a writer with a day job is consistency. Here are some small things you can do to continue making progress on your Work-In-Progress.

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  1. Wake up Really Early – I’m going t be honest, I do not do this. I am not a morning person and this would not work for me. But I know a lot of writers who do follow this practice and it works for them. This is about setting aside to write before heading to your day job and spending your best time writing before you feel wiped out. If you’re a morning person, this might be for you.
  2. Write Really Late at Night – This is my chosen method. I find that when I first come home from work, I’m exhausted. I need a break, so I give myself one. I open up my computer after I’ve had three or four hours to compress from the day job, maybe done some exercise and had supper. Then I take about a half an hour to get some work done. The key thing here is to not do this immediately before going to bed since staring at a computer screen might mess with your circadian rhythm. Instead, work up until 30 minutes before you want to go to sleep, and then switch to reading or some other calming activity. IMG_5388
  3. Write on a couple specified days a week (most likely the weekend) – Almost everyone out there says to be a writer you have to ‘write every day’. If you have a day job, this is likely not your reality and I don’t believe it has to be. Writing can mean more than sitting down and getting out words every day, it can just be thinking over your plot lines or character development or doodling in a notebook. But it is important not to let too many days go by or you might forget where you were at (on this note, make sure to leave yourself a good note about what you need to do next). Lately, I’ve been squeezing in writing time on Wednesday nights and on Saturday or Sunday, and I find this is often enough that I don’t forget what I’m writing about.
  4. Find a Writing Group – As mentioned about, I have a writing group. We meet weekly just to sit in a quiet space and write. This group is all about productivity which is what I need right now. A writing group that spends hours talking and providing feedback might not fill the same purpose, so consider what your needs are when looking for a writing group of your own.
  5. Set Goals and Track Them – This can be important, especially for those that are motivated by seeing numbers on paper. The other year, when I wrote 365,000 words in a year (only 1,000 words a day), my productivity shot sky high. I tracked my daily writing goal in an Excel spreadsheet, and seeing the running total was a big motivator for sitting down and getting stuff done. (I’m no longer doing this and my productivity has dropped, surprise surprise).

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No matter where you are in your writing journey, it is important to a writer’s happiness to see progress being made. Keep in mind that this doesn’t have to be large progress – you don’t have to write a book in a week, or even a book in a month, but you do need to move forward if you want to reach the finish line!

JEH

 

Best Edgy, Completed Young Adult Paranormal and Fantasy Fiction Series

Sometimes it sucks waiting for the end of a story. Other times, it only serves to build tension. But if you’re looking for an edgy, completed young adult series (a series you don’t have to wait years to read the ending to), then look no further than this list of completed series of young adult (arguably New Adult, in some cases) paranormal and fantasy fiction series.

  1. The Raven Cycle Series by Maggie Stiefvater – This series follows a group of high school students as they navigate the ley lines around their hometown. I enjoyed this series because it doesn’t just focus on the teens, but the adults too, including one very interesting hitman. IMG-1660
  2. The Smoke and Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor – This series follows a young girl, whom, it turns out, isn’t so young, and her discovery that the world she thinks she’s from might not be the worlds she’s actually from after all. A young adult series with very few characters who aren’t actually really old, this books has plenty of mature themes.IMG_1024
  3. The Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas – To be honest, I haven’t totally finished this series since the conclusion, Kingdom of Ash, was just released in September of last year, but I plan on finishing the series soon. This series is set in a rich fantasy world created by Sarah J. Maas, whose rutting is dark and cutting and is definitely on the upper end of Young Adult.img_1871
  4. The Girl At Midnight by Melissa Grey – This series is set in the human world, and revolves around a secret battle between two races unknown to humankind, except for one girl who was adopted into this world as a child. Full of hidden secrets and surprises around corners, Melissa Grey is a great writer who gets deep into character. 63fd4-photo-26
  5. The Dark Caravan Cycle by Heather Demetrios- If you want edgy, this is it. This series is arguably pretty darn adult. There are very adult themes in these books (abuse, imprisonment, slavery), but also lots of sexual tension and magical adventure. If you love the idea of a gypsy trying to break free of her bottle, this might be the series for you. IMG_5116

What’s your favorite series?

JEH

What I’m Reading: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Young Adult Book Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

The final book in the Grisaverse Trilogy, Ruin and Rising, was everything I expected it to be—almost. Same great writing, same lovable characters, broken hearts and action and adventure. But there was on thing I didn’t get, and from what I’ve read of other reviews, other people seem to feel much the same way. If you want to know more, scroll past the picture, but if you don’t stop reading now.

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The one thing I felt this book didn’t deliver to me on was the ending. I was expecting much of what happened. But I was expecting/hoping for all of it to end much more tragically than it did. Maybe I’m just all dark and twisty inside, but sometimes a happy ending seems to me to be too happy, almost forced, and almost not realistic. But also, I was just hoping for a different pairing at the end than what I got.

Still, I love this magical world and all of the unique elements to Grishaverse. I’ll probably read the other Grishaverse books. I hear that the other books are even better. Maybe I’ll even start one this weekend.

4/5 Stars

JEH

What I’m Reading: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Young Adult Book Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Book Two of the GrishaVerse trilogy starts off pretty much where the first book ends. Now, this book begins with one of my pet peeves. If you haven’t read the book yet, or even finished the first book of the GrishaVerse, you may not want to read the rest of this review below, as I’m going to share this particular pet peeve of mine. But don’t worry, after the beginning, the book did get better.

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This book began with a pet peeve of mine. It’s a particularly common trope in fantasy: end book one with the hero/heroine breaking free, and begin book 2 with them instantly being recaptured. I find this a complete waste of plot, as often, absolutely nothing happens when the hero is free. Instead, it’s used a device to end book one in a ‘happy ever after’, just in case the publisher never releases book two. I really dislike this plot device. However, as I said above, the book does get better after the beginning.

Alina grows more as a character in this one, and the story moves from Alina having choices made for her (ie. capture and release), to her making choices. But the best part about this book was Nikolai. I love Nikolai. He is by far my favorite character in this series. I wish there could have been more of him. That’s all I’m going to say. Read this book for Nikolai. End of.

4.5/5 Stars

JEH