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Guest Post: Author Pamela Samuels Young Tells How to Write a Novel Despite Your Day Job

Earlier this year, I reviewed a crime novel called Murder on the Down Low. The author, Pamela Samuels Young, is also a lawyer. So I asked her to share how she is able to find time to write, while also juggling a separate career.

How to Write a Novel Despite Your Day Job

I’m often asked how I’ve managed to write four novels while still practicing law. Simply put, writing is my passion. I love creating characters and stories with lots of unexpected twists and turns. That doesn’t mean it’s been easy. Balancing a demanding day job, my family life and my writing career have required lots of sacrifice and hard work. I’ve done it and you can do it too. Here are my top five tips for writing a novel despite your day job.

1. Prepare a Writing Schedule and Stick to It.

Writing a novel is a daunting venture. You have to commit to making it happen. Plan your writing time the same way you plan your schedule at work. I usually plan my writing schedule for the week on Sunday evenings. Whether you have five hours of writing time or just an hour, plan your writing schedule in advance and stick to it.

2. Outline Your Novel.

You can save a great deal of time by thinking your story through from beginning to end before you start writing. You don’t have to prepare an elaborate outline, just jot down enough to serve as a reliable road map. And don’t worry about hampering your creativity. I’ve never written an outline that’s exactly the same as my final draft. My outline is just the map that gets me going. I always venture off course.

3. Start Writing, Without Rewriting Until You Have a First Draft.

Don’t worry about producing a perfect manuscript the first time around. Just get through a solid first draft of your manuscript. When I start a new book, I make few, if any, revisions along the way. Once I get to the end, then I go back and spend as long as I need (usually a few months) perfecting my prose. The writing is in the rewriting.

4. Use Your Passive Time to Further Your Novel.

Don’t forget that writing a novel also involves thinking about your plot and characters. Even when you’re away from your computer, mull over your story. I often work out plot lines when I’m stuck in traffic on the freeway, in the shower, in the beauty shop or waiting in the doctor’s office.

5. Ask Your Friends and Family for their Support.

Writing is a lonely venture which requires you to be selfish with your time. Share your goals with those closest to you and ask for their support. Also, try to incorporate your family whenever you can. I often write about real places in Los Angeles. Once I’ve completed a solid draft of my manuscript, my husband drives me all over the city to visit the places I’ve described in my book to make sure I’ve described them accurately. It’s always a fun day and it gets him involved in the book.

Remember that writing is a creative process. One size does not fit all. Some of the recommendations above may work for you, some may not. Use those that work and ignore or tweak the ones that don’t so that they fit your needs. Above all, just keep writing!

For more information about Pamela Samuels Young, visit the author's website.

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