4 Steps to Write Every Day Alongside a Day Job

The struggle for time is real, but you thrive for longer.

4 Steps to Write Every Day Alongside a Day Job
Photo by Med Badr Chemmaoui on Unsplash

The struggle for time is real, but you thrive for longer.

Two years ago, I felt stuck in a day job that paid $500 a month.

The financial struggle was real, but I had a passion for writing that kept calling me. I’d started writing poems and publishing them in local newspapers when I was barely five. I knew my story arc wouldn’t be complete until I carved out a life for myself where all I did was write.

Fast forward to today, I am now a full-time writer (I proudly say it), earning over $10,000 during my best months.

This transformation started with a simple decision to write every day alongside my day job. By writing daily, I unleashed the power of a writing habit that let me achieve my goals.

In just two years, this one habit has completely changed my life. If I can achieve this, so can anyone whose dream is to become a writer. In this post, I have listed four essential steps that helped me write daily while managing a day job.

Step 1 — Daily Ideation

The first step is allocating a dedicated 30-minute daily session for creativity. During this time, challenge yourself to make a note of ten ideas. These could be about anything that interests you, from potential storylines to article topics or even creative prompts.

Once you have your ten ideas, pick two and outline them further by adding sub-ideas or points related to each idea.

This exercise trains your brain to become an idea machine, fostering creativity and opening doors to new possibilities.

A page from my “Idea Journal” — the super habit that has transformed my career.

This strategy also helps you understand that not all of your ideas will be groundbreaking or usable. Around 90% of them may seem like rubbish, and that’s perfectly fine.

The primary goal of this exercise is not to come up with ten brilliant ideas every day but rather to exercise your idea muscle regularly. The more you ideate, the more creative you become. It also gives you a chance to stumble upon those gems that can shape your writing career.

Pros and cons of daily ideation

After I started writing ten ideas every day for a few months, I had a journal full of more ideas than I could ever convert into articles. While this gave me an unfair advantage over other writers who struggled with writer’s block, it also made me complacent.

“I’ve become an idea machine,” I thought. “I don’t need daily ideation anymore.”

That’s where this advantage became a con.

I stopped writing, and once these ideas in my journal were used up, I was back to square one.

When you get into the habit of writing ten ideas every day, remember that you’re doing it for yourself and no one else. There’s no end goal, and no matter how much expertise you gain in idea generation, you’ve got to keep going. It’s a habit you build for life, not for a specific duration of time.

Step 2 — Replace Bad Habits

Time is precious, especially when a job consumes a significant portion of your day. To make room for your writing, be mindful of where most of your time goes outside of work hours.

Identify activities that consume your time without adding value to your life. Then, make a conscious effort to replace them with habits that complement your writing routine.

For example,

  • Consider replacing mindless scrolling on social media with watching educational videos, or
  • Switching TV time to reading books that inspire your creativity.

A habit I’ve replaced that helped me

I stopped watching TV while having meals. Instead, I either read on my Kindle or listen to an audiobook.

The mindless screen time of before has now been replaced my active idea consumption. This is a new habit I’ve built, which has helped me get better ideas and significantly boosted my writing productivity.

Step 3 — Treat It Like a Marathon

Remember, writing is not a sprint; it’s running a full marathon. To sustain your daily writing habit, build a sustainable routine in the long run.

Choose a specific time and place to write daily, and make it a daily practice.

Avoid burning yourself out by finding a pace that allows you to produce quality content consistently. Consistency over time is the key to building a formidable writing empire that stands the test of time.

How you might fall short here

You might be the most disciplined person in the world, but writing is a lonely job. Sitting in the same place day in and day out can get tedious.

We writers are a creative bunch. We need motivation in the form of changed surroundings and new experiences.

When I get frustrated writing from the same place every day, I take myself out on a work date. I pick a nice cafe and work from there. The white noise of the people around and the option to reward myself with a nice meal after my work is done serve as unexpected productivity boosts.

A picture from my recent work-from-cafe date.

Step 4 — Be Kind to Yourself

Life can be unpredictable, and there will be days when your writing routine gets disrupted.

It’s normal to encounter hurdles or feel unmotivated at times.

The most important thing is acknowledging the setback and not letting it define you.

Focus on getting back to writing as soon as possible. Remember, progress doesn’t need to be always linear, and what matters is that you keep moving forward toward your writing goals. Read more about how to get back to writing after you’ve been forced to take a break —

How to be a Consistent Writer When You Can’t Write Every Day
Keeping your idea muscle active on days you can’t spare words.

Final Words: Four Steps to Write Every Day Alongside a Day Job

The path to becoming a prolific writer alongside a day job is not without challenges, but with dedication and consistency, it is achievable. Embrace the power of daily writing, be mindful of how you spend your time, and treat the journey as a marathon, not a sprint. Most importantly, be kind to yourself and keep moving forward, even on days when the words don’t flow as easily. With these four steps as your guide, you too can pave the way to a successful writing career while maintaining your day job.

  1. Daily Ideation: Dedicate 30 minutes daily to jot down ten ideas and outline two to boost creativity.
  2. Replace Bad Habits: Identify time-wasting habits and replace them with activities that support your writing goals.
  3. Treat It Like a Marathon: Establish a sustainable writing routine, pick a time and place, and work smart to avoid burnout.
  4. Be Kind to Yourself: Don’t beat yourself up for missing a day; focus on getting back to writing as soon as possible.

Happy writing!

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