The Day Job

Discussion in 'General Writing Discussion' started by Coragem, Mar 6, 2012.

  1.  
    Coragem

    Coragem Believer in flawed heroes

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    518
    Hi There:

    Here's a question bordering on private life, but we don't write in a vacuum, do we? Personally, the most important factor in determining how well I'm writing is how happy and well I'm feeling in other areas.

    So, last year I reduced my day job hours to a minimum, to focus more on writing. "Great", I thought. And, of course, I'm lucky to be able to afford it too.

    Then for a three months or so it went fine.

    Since Christmas, though, it's been difficult. Being honest I'm writing more hours, but definitely NOT doing more writing. When editing I'm labouring more over decisions (i.e., this sentence or that, I can't tell!), so it seems (for me) that with less time away from the writing it's harder to see things clearly? Also, maybe the writing sessions are less intense, since extra "writing" time has meant plenty of time to drift (or hang around SFF Chrons!).

    Anyway, I'm socialising more, so that's good, but I am almost decided on upping my day job hours again. I'm a psychotherapist, which means that (again) I'm lucky -- although psychotherapy is hard work, it's thoroughly enjoyable!

    Coragem
  2.  
    Peter Graham

    Peter Graham New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2007
    Messages:
    1,596
    Work expands to fill the time available. The old adage "if you want something doing, give it to a busy person" has a lot of truth in it from what I can see.

    Regards,

    Peter
  3.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    8,584
    This is what I do. Two reasons, one - I'd go insane if I had to do what I do at work all day, literally insane, I'd drive myself off the road on the way to work, and two - I wanted to write. I have to write or the insanity of point one kicks in.

    I can only write when there's nobody in the house, which means I can only write from about 2-3.30 for four days a week. Sometimes I'm not in the writing mood, so I don't write. But I do try.
  4.  
    Vertigo

    Vertigo Mad Mountain Man

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2010
    Messages:
    4,521
    I must admit since dabbling a little in this writing malarkey I have begun to wonder how any of you writers with full time jobs cope. I just find the day isn't long enough to fit everything in: work, reading, writing, sleeping, Chrons and somewhere amongst it all a life.
  5.  
    Jammill Khursheed

    Jammill Khursheed Smell your own dam finger

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Messages:
    146
    I absolutely love my day job, not that it happens too much during the day (mostly evenings and nights) Then again I'm lucky, I've got a pretty shitty job that uses NO brain power whatsoever (I work for a high-end catering/bar-staff agency) Not only does it rest up the bit I want to use for my writing, I can even think things through and play over scenes in my head, so that when i finish and get to sit in front a computer again, I've already revised what I'm going to make a start on.

    Then again, it's not like I'm rich or anything, and it's lucky I'm so common with no high-end tastes to pay for, cos i couldn't afford it if i did.


    Jammill

    p.s. Coragem - No offence, but I don't want you reading too much of my film-trilogy, the main character would say far too much about me for either of us to be comfortable with :O
  6.  
    Gumboot

    Gumboot lorcutus.tolere

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2012
    Messages:
    949
    Personally I don't buy the "I don't have time" argument. People are just generally terrible at managing their time, and/or not very good at prioritising (or alternatively writing just isn't that important). Last year I worked an average of 65+ hours a week and still managed to average about 1,000 words a day.

    I suspect most people, if they broke their day down into 15min increments and kept a log of how they spent their time, would easily find room for at least 2hrs of writing a day.
  7.  
    Warren_Paul

    Warren_Paul Banishment this world!

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    2,589
    I've got it easy (not financially though ;) ), atm writing is my day job, or at least I treat it as such.

    I'm not sure if I'd write better if I was also working, have not had the chance to experiment with that. I started writing seriously after being made redundant from my last job as something to do.

    From feedback I've been getting, it has turned out to be a good idea.
  8.  
    Dozmonic

    Dozmonic Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Messages:
    864
    Time management is always the key issue. If you work 40 hours a week and spend another 10 hours travelling to and from, that leaves you 118 hours in a week for eating, socialising and sleeping. Travel time is great time to dwell on topics for writing and playing the scenes out in your mind. If you know what your next scene is going to be (and most scenes play in the 800-1200 word range, longer chapters are usually just multiple scenes merged together), then you can usually write that out in an hour. That bit of preparation speeds the writing up vastly. An hour a day can mean a first draft done in 100 hours, or 100 days. It's just about making the time and turning the bloody tv off ;-)
  9.  
    springs

    springs Juggling life

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2011
    Messages:
    8,298
    My work fluctuates, seasonally, so when it's quiet I write, when it's busier, I write less. What does give, unfortunately, is the house work! My house is a lot more messy than before I did this, but at least my kids are more aware of tidying up after themselves.... :)

    to me, though, there's little difference which work I'm doing; I'm at my computer when the kids are at school, normally while they're chilling in the afternoon, and often have a quiet readthrough of what I've written in the evening. I also do school runs, chat to the other mums, do shopping etc etc. so that gives me breaks and keeps me sane.
  10.  
    Glen

    Glen Who are you people?

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2011
    Messages:
    454
    Have you answered your own question?

    I think Peter Graham nailed it with his comment on the Law of Delay. You could maybe try time-boxing your writing, say give yourself an hour to write 500 words, or whatever you think is a fair rate. But make sure you do the 500 words in the allotted time. Then you could take your time editing, surfing or whatever else you want to do because your core goal is out of the way for the day.

    Not sure about not seeing things clearly. I have that problem with plots, but my mitigation is to plan each day, think through problems, ask questions, write down the answers.

    My planning, and my writing are the two things I do each day. I set targets for the writing. I've worked out targets that are do-able for me, and not so hard that I fail and become discouraged. But if I fail for a day, i make sure I make up for the weekly target. Working so far....<crosses fingers>
  11.  
    Gumboot

    Gumboot lorcutus.tolere

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2012
    Messages:
    949

    I've found this method pretty useful too. Another thing is I am really big on the world-building which can quickly eat up time. So I make writing my limit of words my priority, and I won't do world-building until those words are written. Even I am focused and professional, I can have the words done before breakfast, which means on days I'm not shooting I can leisurely spend the rest of the day world-building, and on days I am shooting I don't have to stay up until ungodly hours trying to squeeze out my allotted words while I'm exhausted.
  12.  
    Warren_Paul

    Warren_Paul Banishment this world!

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    2,589
    I set myself specific hours for when I'm writing, as if I was working by the hour for business. With a certain word count expectation for that time, and I usually meet it.

    scheduling the time appears to give me the ability to phase out everything else around me and just concentrate on the writing.
  13.  
    Flugel Meister

    Flugel Meister Universe Builder

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2010
    Messages:
    125
    My problem isn't the lack of time for writing but the environment that I write in.

    I need background noise to write, but not the sort that distracts. So every Saturday I head off to Roermond in Holland (28km away) and sit in a cafe all day writing, with my headphones on. And it works. If I try writing at home, I become distracted, lose heart, or just can't be bothered (which I don't understand, I love writing).

    Anyway, I finished the novel a few weeks ago but am now struggling to edit the damn thing. I may go back to the cafe every weekend to edit, though I'm not sure if what worked for writing the novel will work for editing it.

    Of course, the Chrons is a great place for getting pointers on the writing and valuable advice on editing, but shoving the entire MS on here would be unrealistic.

    But before, when I struggled to find the time to write, I cherished it more. It was far more enjoyable. Though I do still enjoy it when I'm on a roll.
  14.  
    Warren_Paul

    Warren_Paul Banishment this world!

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    2,589
    I need the background noise too. I usually have media player going in the background as I work. Playing music I like... no, not classical which apparently helps you think...
  15.  
    Clive R

    Clive R New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2012
    Messages:
    10
    For most of us who are unpublished we have the luxury of time.

    Keep a notebook and pen, even when at work, and scribble thoughts under the desk.

    Don't beat yourself up when you haven't done the word count you set, even a doing just one line a day, or a week, will move the project forward.

    It's meant to be an enjoyable aspect of your life, not life or death.
  16.  
    David Evil Overlord

    David Evil Overlord Censored Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2012
    Messages:
    2,169
    I've tried writing in a vacuum, but I couldn't breathe. :eek:

    Seriously, I work a rotating shift, so I can't set aside a particular time to write. It's what I can snatch from work life, family life, and other hobbies (such as eating, which is like breathing because I also have to do it).

    Sometimes the Muse is good, and I write. Sometimes the Muse is very good, and I write real good and stuff. :)

    Sometimes the Muse is a very bad girl, and I stare at the blank screen and wonder why I ever thought I could write. :mad:
  17.  
    r_j_dando

    r_j_dando New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2012
    Messages:
    110
    I try to fit writing in around full time work and half a dozen other hobbies (as well as minor things like cleaning the house...). I have a minimum number of words to try and do in a day (200), although I aim for more than that. If I have too much 'free' time, I never use it for writing. I mostly use it for procrastinating!

    However, that is only if I'm at home. I have been away on writing weeks with groups of writing friends, and written shedloads. If I don't have the distractions of TV, internet, cats, hanging up washing, pottering around, feeling guilty for not doing XYQ household chore...then I get so much more achieved. I think my ideal would be working part-time, and setting aside a couple of hours each day for writing - maybe in an environment outside of the house, like a local pub.
  18.  
    Coragem

    Coragem Believer in flawed heroes

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    518
    Mr Overlord, I empathised with your post very much. Especially that last sentence.

    And if your peculiar brand of humour carries over into your writing (and you can also do quality, precision, and consistency) you might go very far indeed.

    Other thoughts …

    I'm reading Alastair Reynolds just now, and honestly, it amazes me that he wrote his first six or seven novels while working with the European Space Agency. I've read interviews within which he speaks of setting aside around 3hrs in the evenings, for writing.

    There are others (e.g., Anne Lyle).

    Personally, I can't judge myself by others' standards, because I fall short and feel bad. I am a slow writer, so I do need quite a lot of time to write quite a small amount. I need to accept that. Trouble is, it seems I'm an even slower writer, and a slightly lonely one at that, when I reduce my day job hours too far!

    So much in life comes down to balance, doesn't it?

    Coragem.
  19.  
    Bowler1

    Bowler1 Senile Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2012
    Messages:
    2,706
    I work full time and have a demanding job, so some evenings I don’t even switch the laptop on. But I don’t let that bug me, if I had to write, knocking out set volumes, it would then be work and me being me, I’d enjoy it less. Clearly I don’t have much time to create, if I ever get to the point of getting paid for what I’m doing then I will allocate more time to writing, until then, its to relax and enjoy as a hobby.

    Coragem I’m sure you can tell us why the human nature hates work we have to do, but will sometimes commit every other spare hour into voluntary pursuits without any concern at all. This is the route of your suffering – work!

    You need to reduce the work pressure you’re placing on yourself and allow the creative side to blossom again. That will be your going hourly rate please, a cheque will do just fine!
  20.  
    Jake Reynolds

    Jake Reynolds Wordslinger

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2010
    Messages:
    638
    I started getting up an hour and a half earlier (5.45am) to squeeze in time every day before work. Then, throw in some all day saturday and I'm clocking up to 15 hours a week. The regularity of my sessions means that I can go to/from work thinking about what I write that morning, making my little notes on Evernote for revising the following day. I find the regular nature of it really beneficial for a writing, reflection, notes, edits, writing, reflection, notes, edit kind of routine.

Share This Page