Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Writer vs. The Day Job

Writing is a solitary and time-consuming profession. Only a lucky few of our number are able to carve out a living from their pens. The rest of us have to juggle writing around a full-time job and the rest of our busy lives.

Suppose you work 9 to 5 Monday through Friday, and let's be honest, you're lucky to have such a regular first shift schedule. You get home at 5:30, well what then? You need to eat so that's at least an hour, if you're trying to lead a healthy lifestyle you'll want to work in a little fitness time, and then there's social obligations to factor in. If you're a writer with children (as I am about to be) then the demands on your time increase drastically. When/how are you supposed to write that novel?? It seems it's 11 o'clock before your have-to's are done, and by then you're getting ready to do it all over again in the morning. The cycle can be so frustrating!  

I'm not sure there's an answer to this writer's conundrum. There might always be some element of robbing Peter to pay Paul, whether that's cutting down the workout regimen or eating frozen pizza instead of cooking. I recall once seeing a picture of Stephen King (I believe from his memoir On Writing), in which he could be seen writing a draft of Carrie. King had turned his laundry room into an office. With a chair against one wall and scarcely enough room for his legs, King used the washing machine as his desk. At the time, he was writing late in the evenings after work, after the chores and after the family had gone to sleep. Do you necessarily have to camp out in the laundry room? Certainly not. But the point is if you're passionate about writing, you will find a way to finish your project. You may not get the runaway success of Stephen King, but you will end up with a completed manuscript.

Beginning next week I'm going to start getting up fifteen minutes earlier every day and using that time to write on my tablet. (By the way, My Writing Nook has a great versatile app for this type of thing. You can even use it on your phone!) If I can even jot down only 50 words at a session, that's 250 words or an extra page every week on top of my normal writing. So, a little home following this post: what can you do to squeeze in a little more writing time each day?