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Guest Post: Writing Like It's Your Job by Jessica Wisniewski

Today we're pleased to present a guest post by Jessica Wisniewski. Jessica Wisniewski is a freelance writer and blogger, who works full time as a lawyer in New York City. When not writing in her spare time, she runs marathons and plays with her puppy. She will travel most anywhere in search of a good pizza. Jessica tweets @StyleShifters.

Writing Like It's Your Job

Jessica Wisniewski
Available position: YA Author. Must write on a regular schedule and remain creatively inspired.

So many of us are trapped in full time jobs, with great hopes of one day becoming a writer. While most job seekers can start an official search and interview process, we do not have that option. The onus is on the writer herself. But we’ve all heard the stories –authors who managed to write a book while employed full time in a less creative field. For many, the task seems insurmountable.

The solution is simple. Write like it’s your job. If you treat writing as a job rather than a hobby or a distant dream, it becomes more of an attainable goal.

The first job requirement is writing on a regular schedule. You can’t finish a manuscript if you aren’t writing. In my case, that means writing every day, at least 1,000 words a day. Of course, it is tough to find the time, but it’s your job, which means that you find the time. I usually find the time while I am riding the subway to or from court. Other people find the time in the early mornings or late evenings. As long as you are writing consistently according to some kind of schedule, it really doesn’t matter when you fit it in so long as you do. In this way, your dream will take tangible shape, which will encourage you to continue. There is nothing sadder than the wisp of a brilliant idea floating up to join the clouds of forgotten dreams.

The second job requirement is finding a method to kindle inspiration. Reading legal briefs or changing diapers might not be the most creatively stimulating activity you can do. Unlike Hannah in Girls, most of us are unable to throw caution the wind and spend our days aimlessly in search of inspiration. And, as every writer knows, without the free flow of ideas, we can get mired in writer’s block. Figure out what inspires you, and fit that into your schedule. Many people draw inspiration from reading. When I started my manuscript, I happened to be reading Veronica Roth’s Divergent. Devouring her trilogy while I was in the midst of writing my own manuscript provided the push I needed.

Following these guidelines, I was able to complete my manuscript. Of course, whether it will ever be seen by anyone other than my boyfriend, mother and dog is another matter entirely. Time to query like it’s my job…

Once your manuscript is complete and revised, hopefully after several beta reads, it is as if you are ready for a promotion - publication. Assuming you are not self-publishing or working without an agent, the first step on that road is querying. Querying can be frustrating and rejection will sting. However, if you query like it’s your job, your odds of getting an agent will be improved.

Your job requirements as a query writer will be research, professionalism, and persistence. Research is key. The perfect agent will be a fit for both you and your story. Which is why you should research which agents fit your genre, and who represents books that are comparable to your own. For example, you wouldn’t send a YA manuscript to an agent who is in the market for cookbooks. It’s really simpler than it sounds. Just googling an agent and checking out his or her submissions guidelines will provide you with a lot of information.

And remember, you are treating this as your job, so be professional. Professionalism includes accepting rejection gracefully. Use rejection as constructive criticism, so you can tweak your approach until you find the perfect agent. Persistence, in continuing to query new agents after rejection, can and does pay off.

Finally, you should be proud of yourself for a job well done. Just getting this far is a feat that many people are unable to accomplish. Happy writing.


The opinions expressed in guest posts are the views of the designated authors and do not necessarily reflect those of YA Highway members.

If you would like to write a guest post for us, submit a proposal here!
Kristin Halbrook

Kristin Halbrook is the author of the critically-acclaimed young adult novels Nobody But Us (HarperTeen, 2013) and Every Last Promise (HarperTeen, 2015). She likes many things.

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  1. Great post. I've been an engineer for twenty years. For the last ten (with a brief two year pause), I've been pursuing the writing dream that I shelved way back when. You're right, you havet to think of it as a job. You don't get to just skip it tonight so you can catch the first episode of 24 (don't tell me a bout it, I record). And we should never feel rushed, believing that if we don't start publishing before we're 50, there's just no point. Last I checked, we're living pretty long lives these days. And if you're doing the job you love, then there is no retirement. Why would you want to? So no mall walking for you! Get to work!

  2. You are so right. I work a normal boring 40hr week job currently and it kills my mojo. I feel like a zombie when I'm there half the time and then I get home all I want to do is relax watch TV and sleep before doing it all over again. Then on my beloved days off...I just have a hard time turning my brain back on and into writing mode when part of me would rather finish a movie/show/book I had been reading or go see my friends.

    It's crazy but you're right. I have been trying to focus on it more and think of it as a task, it has to be done, before I can do 'X' I have to do my writing be it a review or blog post, a fanfic update, or for my WiP, something has to be typed 5-6 days a week. And surprisingly enough I am writing more and feeling more accomplished. It's amazing and feeling productive makes me feel happy which feeds my creative muse! So its a win/win.

    Great post and thanks for sharing. I always love to read how others find time to fit in writing their books and holding down a full time job and regular life.

  3. Such an awesome post. I have been a full time stay at home mom for the past 8 years so my time has been completely swallowed up by everything that went with my day job. In August, my youngest daughter is going to start preschool 3 days a week and I'm already like, "Hooray! Real office hours!" I intend to devote every hour she is at school to writing and I can NOT wait!

  4. Great reminders! My challenge is that I DO write for a living, in PR. So, the writing styles are very different than what I do on my own, but sometimes it's still hard to find fresh energy for writing once I get home. Usually it doesn't take too long to get in the groove, though.

  5. The writing process enables concepts become more understandable to readers. It is further broken down as: pre-writing, writing, reviewing, revising and editing.books


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Item Reviewed: Guest Post: Writing Like It's Your Job by Jessica Wisniewski Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kristin Halbrook