Paralegal by day, writer by night.
Alessandra Harris writes novels that reflect the reality and diversity of the world in which she lives. She’s had a number of jobs in education, hospitality and the legal field, but still finds time to chill with her husband and four children, and of course, write. Her debut novel, Blaming the Wind, was published by Red Adept Publishing, followed by her second, Everything She Lost, in 2018.
Could you describe what you do when you’re not writing?
I’m a mom of four with a full-time job, so my schedule is super busy. My kids are all active in sports and after-school activities, so after work and cooking dinner, I’m usually shuttling someone around or in the stands cheering them on.
Do you have a writing schedule?
Right now, I really only schedule in time to write on the weekends. So, on Saturday and Sundays I get up before everyone else – usually 7 a.m. – and write for about three hours. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a few hours during the week. I’ve had this schedule since fall 2018.
Do you have a target of how many pages or words you write in a day?
What I’m working on now is actually a novella that I’m turning into a full manuscript. Since I’m both revising and adding to the novella, it’s hard to have a straight word count goal.
Where do you usually write?
Usually in the living room.
Do you like to write alone or with a writing group?
I always write alone.
Ideally, what time of the day is the best time for you to write? What do you do when you can’t write at this time?
The morning is the best time for me to write right now because I have energy and the time to concentrate. However, for years I wrote in the evenings. So, if I am able to, I will definitely write during the evening.
Do you get inspiration from your day job? Why or why not?
Not for my current WIP.
If you had the option, would you choose to quit your day job and write full time?
Right now, I would say I would not quit my day job. I was a stay-at-home mom for eight years, and though I cherish that time, we had to make financial sacrifices for that to work. I’m catching up on things like retirement savings. I enjoy writing, but with four kids in the pipeline to go to college, I need a steady income, which writing does not provide.
What do you do if you fail to follow your writing schedule or don’t get to write as often as you’d like? Does it affect your day/s?
Before, I used to be really hard on myself if I didn’t reach my writing goals. But, I’ve learned to give myself a break. I’m doing several things that are challenging and require a lot of time and energy. Writing is a priority, but just not the first on my list.
Between your day job and writing, how do you fit in time with your family/partner/social circle, etc.?
My husband is a great support for my writing. He understands that I have limited free time, and I often choose to spend that free time writing. I don’t really watch TV or binge-watch Netflix because I will use that time to write instead. But, I put my kids / family before writing because they will only be young and in the house for a period of time. I’m sure I’ll have a lot more time to devote to writing once they are older.
How long does it typically take you to finish writing a book?
I can’t answer that question because it really depends on so many different factors.
Do you have any other advice on keeping up with writing while juggling a day job?
Try to create a writing habit you can engage in consistently. Though it may seem difficult to write with a day job, you’ll be so happy you made the time when your book is finished and in the hands of readers.