24 January 2012

Author Article: Zoe Miller

Yesterday, I reviewed Zoe Miller's latest book Rival Passions, a fantastic read set in a glamourous Irish hotel that I really enjoyed! Zoe was kind enough to write an article for the site for me, about how she juggles being an author and having a full time job as well! Thanks go to Zoe for taking the time to write this for me!

Novel Writing and the Day Job - How I Cope!

Sometimes I get my best ideas when I’m commuting to the day job in the morning. I’d be driving over Templeogue Bridge at 7.30am, listening to the radio, and a piece of dialogue would pop into my head. Or when I’m stuck in slow morning traffic, I might get an idea about how best to bring two characters together. (Or tear them apart!)

But all those ideas have to be left to simmer in the back of my mind when I reach the office around 8.15 am, and get caught up in plans for the day. I work in the field of training and development, mostly skills such as Customer Service, Communication, etc.  On a typical day I could delivering a training course, or preparing for a course, meeting with managers and staff to discuss training needs, or handling a variety of admin queries.

Combining my life as a novelist with the day job is a challenge, but I’m finally fulfilling my lifelong dream. Once upon a time I was one of those book lovers cum writers who was passionate about the idea of writing a novel. But I never seemed to find the time to knuckle down, what with a busy day job, and a house to run, not to mention a husband and family.

Then the penny dropped.  I was never going to ‘find’ time. If I wanted to follow my dream, I would have to carve out writing time and guard it with my life. So I had to learn to fit it in around my job, ignore the telly / the internet / the phone, and forget about leisure time. My family and friends had to get used to me slinking off to write. And they did. As for housework? One of my favourite sayings is by an American author Joy Held – ‘Women with clean houses do not have finished books’. I have pinned this to the wall of my writing room!

When I finally got my first 2-book deal, I reduced my day job to four days a week.  I usually leave the office round 5.00 pm and as soon as I’m in the car I’m back with my characters and I start thinking of how I’m going to pull apart their lives, for better or worse. Once home, I get into my comfy jeans, catch up on stuff like emails and essential phone calls, and then it’s into my writing room, where no matter what kind of day I’ve had, I enter the world of romance, glamour and intrigue! I work for a couple of hours most weekday nights. I usually set a target word count to reach, but I don’t always get there! On my day ‘off’, it’s bliss to forget about the office and head straight into my writing room, where I’ll work a full day. I also work between eight – twelve hours at weekends, depending on deadlines and family life. My family and friends are very supportive and hubby has even discovered how to load (and empty) the dishwasher and washing machine - of his own volition!

The good thing about having a day job is that it gives you a regular income to help cover life’s little essentials, leaving your mind free to create. There’s also plenty of social interaction, which is a big plus, because writing can be a very solitary occupation. The hustle and bustle of the day job also helps to keep me on my toes and it broadens my horizons. At a deeper level, this feeds into my writing.

To combine the two, I have to be focussed and disciplined, and I always spend a little time on Sunday planning the week ahead, but I also know I have to be flexible and allow for occasional down time! My writing life is very important to me and time is precious, but family always comes first.

Most writers I know are juggling their writing careers with other commitments. If you think of it, most people have to juggle various aspects of their lives on a daily basis. I feel very grateful that I have a career as a novelist, even if I have to manage it alongside the day job!

You can buy Zoe's book Rival Passions in both paperback and as an eBook now! You can also read my review of the book here.

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