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  1. As a 30+ year veteran of writing code and prose, I feel very qualified to add to your advice for Charles’ EDN question # 1028: Writing with a Full-Time Life. Your two suggestions of dictation and finding remote work were among my initial reactions. The following are perhaps the things that shouldn’t be said…

    #1. If the intention is to replace the code writing job with novel writing, you might as well give up now. Programming is more in-demand than ever and until the AI takes over, I see no end to that. I purposely get myself fired almost annually with the intention of taking time off to write and I always have a new job lined up much too soon. It is good money and job security in a very uncertain world. Focusing on financially setting up the earliest retirement possible will be the best path toward full-time writing for possible profit.

    #2. If you don’t have a PASSION for writing that supersedes your obligations of family, work, pets, etc., you will never be a full-time writer, so you might as well give up now. “Dread” and “exhaustion” are not words associated with something you are passionate about. Every sentence of your question seems filled with reasons you can’t write. Pets, long commute and longer workday, kids, etc. Almost seems as if you have constructed a life that serves as a scapegoat for your failure to write. This might be easier to take than the more common worry that your writing will not be good enough. None of our writing is good enough… until it is. I’m still not quite there…

    #3. Finding stolen moments in a day of obligation is never going to work. Writing can’t be your lowest priority. It has to be up at the top like a sick child or making whoopie. Sure you need to earn a living to support your family, but if you don’t have savings and a support network, you shouldn’t have had kids yet. If your partner does not support and encourage your writing, you might as well give up now. If they see it as taking precious time away from them, you ARE taking precious time away from them. Happy spouse, happy house… but that goes both ways. You should be asking them how you can find the time, not Dan. (In re-listening to the question, I noticed you did not specifically mention a spouse and you did say you ‘make dinner’. Apologies if single, full-time parenthood is your situation. Even more reason to find a work from home position that is much more common now in IT.)

    #.4 NEVER EVER EVER GIVE UP WRITING, EVEN IF YOU HATE IT SOMETIMES. CREATIVITY IS THE BEST PATH TO HAPPINESS EVER DEVISED BY THE CHEMICALS THAT ORGANIZE INTO THE ILLUSION OF HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS. The above advice/admonishment is intentionally harsh. You need to completely change how you think about writing if you intend to enjoy it.

    If you love writing, you will find the time. Don’t think of it as an alternative career. Think of it as a hobby that helps you escape the crappy parts of life most code monkeys have to endure.

    Writing on the Job:
    I once wrote around 40,000 words over six months sitting at my desk while being paid to code a B2B interface. Worse than stealing office supplies? Maybe. It was fifteen minutes here, a half hour there. Coffee breaks and socializing time that an introvert has no need of. Most coders are on salary, not punching a clock. Most of your job is being paid to think and solve problems, not type and mouse click. You are probably “coding” on your commute, at the dinner table, and while you sleep. Don’t feel guilty about “stealing” back some of that time from them. Just like writing stories is rarely done in eight hour chunks, breaking up the programming day with some outside the box thinking is beneficial for everyone. I almost guarantee you will arrive home with much less “such a day”-ness if you spent some of it creative writing. If you feel guilty about it, just go to work 15-30 minutes early and spend those minutes writing down the ideas that filled your head on your commute. DON’T write on the company computer. Have a very portable laptop/tablet for your writing and back up daily.

    Some more DON’Ts that may help:
    DON’T sit waiting for the perfect sentence to form in your head. Write the almost good enough one and move on. There are dozens of revisions ahead where it can be improved.
    DON’T feel the need to only write on one story. You don’t have a contract with a deadline. Enjoy the freedom of that and write whatever your mind is moved toward.
    DON’T write more than notes on a notepad unless you have someone willing to do the transcription for you.
    DON’T watch TV because you are too ‘exhausted’ to write. Writing IS the TV that is exactly what you want to watch. Much better use of your time – turn on the digital recording device and TELL YOUR KIDS STORIES. Children’s/YA books are a very big market and you have beta testers you don’t have to pay under your roof! They will likely remember that the most when it is your turn to wear diapers.
    DON’T listen to any advice unless it actually helps. Go through all the advice you’ve received and purge the worst of it.

    Most importantly… Never stop writing.

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