Balancing Work & Writing

I recently was fortunate enough to be interviewed by Hyphen, a San Francisco-based Asian American magazine, about being a full-time magazine editor and writer. Hyphen online Q&A editor Rachel Filipinas asked how I balance my time to juggle both careers. And often, my blog readers ask me the same thing. I wish I could say that I have a clone who helps me out with these projects, but I haven’t perfected that science yet. I wanted to expand on my answer to Rachel and give you a little more detail here.

What I do is schedule. I use my handle iCal on my iPhone and set dates for myself to write. Since I’m balancing outside projects such as a photography book with top photographer Bambi Cantrell, working on a new young adult series, and freelance, my calendar is my best friend. Since I work 9am to 5:30pm most days, I work at nights and during my lunch hours. I purchased a MacBook Air so I could lug my laptop to work without killing myself. (A great investment if you can afford it.) It is a bit crazy to work during a lunch hour but it really forces me to get work done. You have 60 minutes, go! I go to a nearby café and churn out as much as I can.

Talk it out. My husband is a great sounding board. He works full-time while balancing outside projects such as his graphic novel, RASCAL RACOON (out this December 2011, Oni Press), so he understands what it means to work on multiple projects. I like to talk out my work schedule with him. He tells me honestly if I’m tackling too much in one night or week. Find a person in your life that you can discuss work with and your goals. Sometimes it’s hard to see what you’re working on from the outside.

Love what you do. I love magazines, young adult novels, photography, and being creative. I might be working until midnight to finish an article, but I love it. I can’t stress this enough. Don’t kill yourself for something that doesn’t matter to you. It’s not worth it.

Most of all, take some time off. I’m a perpetual worker. Every minute of the day must be filled. But when I do that I burn out. I either get sick or get cranky. That’s no way to live. I’m trying to remember to take a night off and relax. Work will always be there.

How do you juggle multiple projects?

3 Comments on “Balancing Work & Writing

  1. Great advice! Coming up with a schedule and sticking to it really is the only way to be a writer.

    One other tip I’ll offer: cut yourself off from the internet. Either take the laptop and work away from a wifi signal or even just turn off the network on your computer. Not having instant access to online helps keep me from getting distracted.

  2. Great tips! It’s so damn hard to concentrate and get things done when there’s tv to watch and internet to read! Like, right now I’m reading this instead of working on a deadline that’s due tomorrow at 7 a.m. Okay, turning internet off! But first! Do you write every evening except one off (that seems like SO MUCH to me! am i just lazy??) and for how long do you write in the evenings?

    • Laura! Thanks for reading. I don’t write every evening. Realistically, I schedule myself to work three nights a week, depending on what I have to get done. Sometimes, I have a bit of breather between assignments, and other times, I have like everything due at the same time so then I work every night. I don’t want to scary you but I tend to work from 8pm to 11pm or even midnight some nights. But I’d rather do that than work on the weekends, which sometimes I’m stuck doing if I’m busy during the week. And you’re not lazy. Never. If lazy equals awesome, hilarious writing than you’re lazy.

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