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Novel Update: Balancing Writing and Work October 9, 2009

Posted by pacejmiller in Blogging, Novel, On Writing.
Tags: , , , , ,

First week back at work has been rough.

A regular day before I recommenced work consisted of getting up in the morning feeling full of energy.  The day would sweep by and leave me wondering where all the time went by the end of it.  Now, things are drastically different.  I get up at 7 in the morning feeling like I need infinitely more sleep.  I’m out the door by 7:30 and don’t get home until 9 (on an average day), and by the time I walk through the door I am exhausted, having utilised by formerly seldom-used brain all day.  To ensure I’m not a zombie the next morning, I make sure I get into bed around 11, leaving only 2 hours of waking, non-work time which I generally spend cleaning stuff, showering and preparing for the next day.

That leaves me with zero time to write during the week, except maybe during some down time at work (like now) where I can squeeze in a quick post.  But working on the (fantasy) novel is virtually impossible, especially since I need a bit of time to get into the proper mood and spirit.  And all this noise around in open plan is always a distraction.

I bumped into a friend this morning who used to be full of vitality before he started in the same profession, and now he’s a shell of who he once was.  Sent me an email after he got to work informing me that he just found out he’d have to work all weekend.  The worst part, he tells me, is that you get so bogged down by it and get so used to it all (from the never-ending grind) that you simply accept that it’s the way things are and you forget that they could be better.  That’s the type of mentality I want to avoid developing.

It’s looking bleak right now but I am confident I’ll manage to find some time somewhere.  If anything, it’ll motivate me to go find a job that doesn’t drain my soul!

[PS: Coincidentally, I just got a newsletter from Ginny Wiehardt’s Blog which has a whole bunch of comments on finding time to write while coping with the other stresses and distractions in life.  Take a look.]


1. foresightyourctpsychic - October 9, 2009

A few suggestions-

*Coffee Breaks
*lunch Breaks
* stuckin traffic

Or whenever you have a few moments. If you carry paper and a pen, there’s always time to write…

It’s like Jello

2. paulandrewrussell - October 9, 2009

I can identify with the lack of writing time. The day job takes it out of me physically, and when it comes time to write I’m just too tired and can’t hit the keys and do the work. A little bit here and there seems to work better than forcing it. At least you’re still thinking about the writing, which is always good.

Best wishes


3. Nate - October 10, 2009

As a Cylon, I don’t sleep so I have *time* to write even when there’s work (you know, that whole destroying humanity thing) but I completely understand your predicament/frustration, as it is common among writers with a life-sucking full time job.

What I would suggest is:
1-for you to remember that you’ve just started work back up after a long lazy european holiday (ok fine, you were at school too) so you gotta let yourself adjust to the demands of the schedule until your body gets into the routine and you no longer feel so tired, beat, dead, etc.
2-avoid giving yourself writing goals such as: “write x amount of words/pages per day” because in my opinion/experience, that will only complicate things and since we can’t see into the future, you don’t know what’s going to happen that’s going to keep you from achieving those goals and it’s going to make you miserable and writing shouldn’t be miserable but fun and creatively invigorating, so just go with the flow and write what you can whenever you have the time. Keep a pad and pen or if you wanna get nerdy your PDA handy; you never know when an idea will pop up, or some random thing may inspire a solution to some plot drama you couldn’t resolve until you saw that person get run over by a car (I’m morbid like that) and you wanna make sure you write that stuff down lest you forget.
3-I know you don’t use music like I do but try it at least at work. If the bloody frakkers can’t keep it down and there’s too much noise, why not put a *on lunch-do not disturb* sign on, put on the headphones and listen to something instrumental, and since you wanna do fantasy, then use The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy soundtrack or something else of your liking, Sigur Ros?. I-more often than not-am always listening to it while I’m writing (headphones on) and it really helps me concentrate and sometimes even solve issues as I go alone. At least give it a try, it really shuts all noises and you are in your own space with epic music to help you get in the right mindset.
4-last but not least: don’t let work get to you; you wanna be writer not a lawyer, think of it as means to an end not a dead-end you’ll be stuck in for the rest of your life. Be resilient, once you stepped out of the office, forget about it til the next day and enjoy life outside it. This isn’t the best of allegorical examples but think of The Shawshank Redemption and Midnight Express: both characters were wrongly inprisioned and they suffered greatly but they held on, didn’t give up on faith and at the end freed themselves from their prison.

4. Digital Dame - October 13, 2009

Music really helps me, it’s even inspired several characters. If you don’t like to listen to music, there are those “nature sounds” CDs. I used one of ‘gentle waves’ to do a several-days-long online training session when I first joined my company. It’s like white noise, blocks out all the chatter but doesn’t take your attention. I can tell you the exact one if you’re interested (no screeching gulls, no music at all, just surf).

Also, and this is very important, watch your nutrition if you’re getting that drained. Writers often forget to take care of themselves physically.

Hang in there, it won’t always be this way.

pacejmiller - October 13, 2009

Thanks Digital Dame! I think I need to get my hands on one of those relaxation, music-only or sound-only CDs…I find when I listen to songs with lyrics I end up listening to the lyrics.

5. Digital Dame - October 13, 2009

This is the one I got:

Ocean Waves

A friend gave me some others, but this is my favorite.

pacejmiller - October 15, 2009

Thanks! Will definitely check it out.

6. foresightyourctpsychic - October 16, 2009

I’ve got a lot of these, and find they’re great for reducing stress and calming mental chatter( as well as helping me write). My favorites are “wind in the trees”( very soothing) and one of a fire in a fireplace with a background of blizzard( which I swear drops the temperature in a room)

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