Everyone wants to achieve that perfect balance between work and home life. But for artists of any nature, there’s that additional element to fit into your hectic schedule.

How do you fit your artistry – be it novels, paintings, acting or singing – in with the demands of a full-time job, family, hobbies and relaxation?

I can’t claim to have the right answer – we all do whatever we can in our own particular circumstances. But for me, it is an ever-present challenge. So I’m going to share with you how it works for me.

Two weeks ago I took a fortnight’s Annual Leave from work. I actually have so much leave built up from over the past few years that it was literally made one of my work objectives this year to use it all up! True story!

So I took advantage of that time off, and the fact my wife and I aren’t going on a holiday this year, to spend lots of time at home, working on my novels.

I’ve already detailed in my previous blogs (see below) how I spent that last fortnight: putting my second book Long & Winding Road onto Kindle, promoting it judiciously and then starting writing my fourth book. So how’s it gone since then?

Well, er…..?? The fact that this, my third blog, comes a fortnight later probably says it all. Does it mean I’ve lost interest in my work? Of course not! But it does exemplify the difficulties I experience in holding down a full-time job; having a committed relationship (I’ve been married 17 years); having a rigorous health and exercise regime (I go to the gym three times a week and yoga every Thursday night); and needing that vital relaxation time too.

In 2016, when writing my third novel Strider Begins: Road to Nowhere – which I am still pitching in vain to literary agents – I decided to write one chapter virtually every night until it was done. It was a tremendous effort that left me exhausted, physically and mentally, but it got the book done within six weeks. I was in a particular rush to get it out of my brain, down onto the laptop, in order to start pitching it the agents. The idea was: if they ask for it, I have it to send instantly to them!

Thankfully, I don’t have that same rush right now for my fourth novel – Till the Fat Lady Sings – so I don’t have to destroy my health and relaxation time so much to get it done. But I still have to find that writing time somehow.

I started writing TTFLS earlier this month. I wrote the chapter plan beforehand and then, for the actual Chapter 1, I decamped to a local Costa Coffee and spent a very pleasant afternoon writing it up. The cafe was far less noisy and hectic than I’d first envisioned and afforded me a very relaxing, uninterrupted period in which to get my thoughts down and concentrate on DC Dominic Strider’s latest adventures. It ended with me writing most of the chapter, honing it and coming up with fresh ideas on the hoof. Chapter 1 takes place at the historic Chester Roodee Racecourse (hence the hoof pun!), and is a scene-setter which leads to a great, fun chase and fight.

Writing in Costa is something I’d love to replicate from time to time, but of course it’d mean having to either take my laptop to work, in order to have it ready for post-work 5pm; or taking the day or week off work again. So thank goodness I have more leave to take in September, October and November/December.

It does mean my writing will be more sporadic than last year, but on the other hand I’ll have several weeks here and there of uninterrupted writing. In this case, it actually works to my advantage because, while Road to Nowhere was fully formulated in my mind and merely needed transcribing, TTFLS is a bit more unplanned. I know where it’s going but only know 3/4 of the ‘how’ Strider arrives there. So it’ll give me much more time to think and plan, and see what fresh ideas pop into my mind to help propel the story along.

I still aim to get the book fully completed by this Christmas. But I promise you won’t have to wait that long for the next blog! 😀

Till next time, adios amigos and thank you everyone for all your support!! 🙂

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