Writing With a Day Job

How do you write a novel with a day job? G.D. Gearino has an answer. Wake up at the ungodly hour of 4 AM and write 250 words before the stroke of six. This allows for 1,250 words a week, or a novel in about a year and a half.

Of course, Trollope was there before Gearino, beginning his writing at exactly 5:30 AM until 11 AM.

Then there’s Graham Greene, who stuck with 500 words a day.

But ultimately it’s about being a pragmatic workhorse. Holly Lisle has some good advice on when to know to quit.


  1. I have been reading Kafka’s diaries recently and as to the question of how to write with a day job it provides an answer. Write in the evening and throughout the night. (You will need chronic/psychologically debilatating insomnia)Sadly this may lead to an early death and a deathbed request to burn all yer manuscripts, but if yer pals are smart they’ll publish everything instead – even your private diaries!
    Hope this helps.

  2. What has always confused me about this is, are those supposed to be 500 words to keep? 500 good ones, or 500 first draft, and then tomorrow polish it up, so that’s the next days 500 words, and then integate the day before’s last 250 words with the previous day’s first 250 words, so that gives the current day’s 500 words by cannabilizing the two prior days, and so on. I think you have to solve a recurrence equation to calculate when you finish. Is it a year and a half?

  3. The 4:00 AM bit is sometimes hard to keep up with, but it’s a tatic I use also. I seem to be fresher in the AM, and have some great ideas soon after waking, but with a real day job or two to pay the bills, I try to write at least two full pages a day, whether I start in the morning or not. Hey it’s working for me, I’m a tad busy.

    So the simple math is as follows, 2 pages per day times 200 days, equals 400 pages in less than a year. Add in some revision time, deduct some horrible writing time, and you are close to a year, for an average length novel.

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