Writing with a Day Job

Manuscript News

It took me a while to really get back on the wagon with writing. Even though I promised myself I would start up again on January 2nd, I didn’t actually get any words down until the 5th. Without the enthusiasm of a fresh start or the punishing schedule of NaNo to have to adhere to, I found it all too easy to make excuses not to write (some of which is the topic of today’s post, see below).

Honestly, I think I was a little bit nervous about burning myself out again. NaNo was pretty brutal for me, and had the unintended side effect of getting me to believe that I had to do five pages a day for it to count as progress. When I realized I could just do five hundred words and be done for the day, I felt the cloud kind of lift.

While I do think I need some of the more rigorous writing workouts to keep me on schedule (a self-imposed, completely arbitrary schedule), I wasn’t ready to jump into the deep end quite yet. So, for now, I’m content with a page a day. And when I’m ready, I’m gonna run for the hills again.


The Weekly Struggle

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Unless you’re lucky enough to write professionally as a full-time career, you probably have a day job, so I hope many of you can relate.

Let’s all agree right now: writing when you have a full time day job can be really, really hard.

Winter is the busy season in my industry, to the point where my company actually has a vacation day blackout between November-January. This year, my office had it’s busiest November/December since I’ve been in this job (we’re on pace for a similar January, something I’m very excited about).

The sum effect of all this has been a great deal of take home stress. This was a large part of why I decided to take a short writing hiatus last month, and I think it’s the entire reason why I have so little energy for writing at the end of the day even now that the holidays (the other motivation for my hiatus) are over.

Stress isn’t the only thing throwing off my groove either. Before things picked up at the day job, I was able to sneak in one or two hundred words on my breaks, more on my lunch. Since I’ve been pretty much working through those, I’ve lost some of my most productive pockets of time, leaving me with pretty much just the time between my kids getting in bed and when I finally faceplant into my own bed. Yesterday, a particularly hard one at work, that time was approximately 37 seconds.

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Mine is not a unique situation. We all, at some point, have to find a work-writing balance that works for us, and one person’s method might not be helpful to someone, or maybe even anyone, else. I’m still trying to find that midpoint. I’m also trying to determine where Not Writing stops being laziness and becomes self care, and vise versa. Coming off my hiatus, which I needed, and still struggling to write isn’t something I had anticipated.

Best I can do, for now, is try to take these difficult times, these stressful work days, and turn them into motivation to complete my novel so that one day I can quit my effing job.


What I’m Reading This Week

I’m finishing up my semi-yearly reread of my favorite book of all time, Pride and Prejudice. I know one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to read a bunch of new books, and I did sign up for a Book Bub account pursuant to that, but I really needed old faithful last week with all that was going on. I’ve got a couple of fantasy novels lined up, so I’ll have something more interesting next week, I promise.

What are you all reading, and, more importantly, which Bennett sister are you?


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NaNoWriMo Update – Week 2

This week’s update is going to be a short one, mostly because I don’t have much ground to cover that I didn’t talk about last week.

First, I’d like to share my jubilation on yet another platform that holy shit I broke 20,000 words.

This isn’t the first time I’ve done 20k on a project, I’ll admit, but those other times were mostly fanfiction series or stabs at my opus that usually fizzled out shortly thereafter. This is the first time that I’ve looked at my word count and been seriously, incredibly proud of myself. And that’s less because of the milestone itself than the labor and preparation that went into it, as well as the fact that I’ve gotten this far and I still have the creative energy and a vision to keep going.

That is what’s new to me. That is what has me beyond pumped.

That said, I had a really bad day yesterday. I had some pretty severe pain in my right ear that turned out to be an infection that kept me fairly well distracted most of the day. Even after it subsided, I struggled hard with getting words out. After two and a half hours and a net word count of 580, I closed my laptop and went to sleep.

And you know what? I didn’t feel guilty about it.

Maybe a year ago or six months ago I would have tried to wring another thousand words out of the bone dry sponge that was my brain, but this time I looked at all the successes I’ve had in just two short weeks. I remembered just this past Saturday when I wrote 3800 without really even batting an eye. I told myself that even if I remain helplessly stuck in this scene, I have a 20 page outline I can fall back on to find a place where I can start fresh.

I tell you what, I slept like a baby.

Then, I woke up this morning, listened to some of my favorite podcasts, daydreamed about what it would be like to be a full-time writer one day, ate my breakfast sandwich, and got to work.

I think we all, at some point or another, forget that self-care has to be an integral part of our writing process. I know none of us want to burn ourselves out, or work ourselves into stress related illnesses. And so we have to allow ourselves the ability to say, “No, not today,” without getting down on ourselves about it.

It was a lesson I didn’t even realized I learned, but I am all the happier for it.

Until next week!