I am truly blessed.
I get to work from home.
Lots of people, myself included, talk about how they wish they could work from home, how wonderful it would be, how much more stuff they would get done, how much more time they would have, blah-blah blahbbity-blah-blah-blah. And to some extent, it is true. Here’s a list:
- More Time: save an hour a day in commute time
- Eat Better: using that ^ hour to make breakfast
- More Accomplished: sneaking laundry or chores into my breaks
- No Shoes: I fucking hate shoes. Don’t have to wear them.
- No Socks: Double-ditto that!
- Comfy Clothes: I can work in my PJs, if I so choose.
- Always Home: No missed deliveries!
- Peace & Quiet: No constant hum of other people distracting me
And that all sounds pretty awesome, right? It totally is. I am about to ‘go to work’ right now and all I have done to prepare is roll out of bed, brush and corral my crazy hair into a ponytail, scrub my teeth, and come to the pseudo-office-space to log-in. Note that – get dressed – is no where on that list. Tee-hee.
Unfortunately, one of my biggest goals in working from home, was sketching out more time to write and I have not really managed that at all. I seem to have even less time for writing. Plus, not all is as rosy as you might think when you’re alone (mostly) all day, trying to work at home.
- More Time: Somehow translates to even less time for writing.
- No Commute: Going to the store means leaving home, rather than a stop on the way.
- Comfy Clothes: PJs almost every day makes you feel like a schlub.
- Eat Better: No vending machine for a 2:30 pick-me-up.
- Always Home: What’s the weather like? I have no windows!
- Alone: No one to talk to (except chatting) or ask questions.
So, its not a perfect situation. But I do prefer it and I really do feel blessed that my incredible bosses have allowed (nay – asked!) that I work from home. I’m just saying – its not as ideal as I always envisioned.
I get up at 5:30 a.m., perform my morning ablutions, try to blog OR work on editing, attempt to catch up on my Facebook, ignore Twitter entirely, and then – work starts. My job is not one with much down-time, alas. The phone is always ringing, the inbox is always hopping, and before I know it – its quitting time. Then the evening comes, and after all day in this chair, the last thing I want to do is spend more time here, but I must. First, we’ll make dinner, then take a walk, then hang out with Jack, and then write- Oh crap! Its bedtime. Well, I’ll get to it in the morning. And repeat. Ad nauseum.
I’m just putting this out there as a cautionary tale.
Working from home does not mean you will magically have time to write.
You’re still going to have to eke it out wherever you can. You’re still going to have to put in the time and effort. You’re still going to have to DO something about it, if you want to be a writer.
How? Well, here’s another spiffy list!
- Steal twenty minutes before work (like I am now) and blog or sprint or flash fiction – just to keep your writing muscles supple.
- Schedule time and STICK to the schedule.
- Make daily goals and keep journal/spreadsheet to track them.
- Accept that some days you may not make your goals…
- …but NEVER stop trying!
Life hands you lemons, you make lemonade, right? Well sometimes, life hands you lemonade and it turns out you fucking HATE lemonade. What then? Reduce that junk down in a pot with some butter and cream and whiskey and pour it over your asparagus.
The point is – well, a) I watch too much Chopped, and b) even things you think you want may not be what you really need or like. But you’re a writer, right? A creative-type. So turn it on its ear and make it work for you. If you are serious about it, you have to REALLY work at it.
Have I ever mentioned how much I hate really working at anything? That’ll be another blog post.
For now, just… keep writing. Keep reading. And try that lemon-butter-whiskey cream sauce. It sounds ridiculously good right now…
Love & Rainbows,
Recently, a friend in a writing group asked a question that plagues me as a writer.
How do you avoid the temptation of a shiny, new idea while you’re in the middle of writing/editing your WIP?
I have no good answer for that.
Historically, I can say that I have been notorious for dropping one project like its hot to snatch up the latest idea in my brain. Usually, that means both end-up unfinished and I’m off to a third idea. This is the reason, if you click on my “WIPS” page, you will see seven listed projects – in addition to Incandescence, my current focus. Seven does not begin to cover the irons I have in the fire. In fact, before this page is published, I am going to add a third section to that page just to remind myself of all the stuff I have to finish! Hopefully it’ll turn out to be motivating rather than overwhelming. We shall see.
Anyway – the original question is an important one. How do we avoid the temptation to move onto something new?
- Absolute Denial: you can completely ignore those new thoughts & ideas to maintain focus on your WIP. Of course, you could be missing out on your magnum opus.
- Calculated Pause: give yourself a measured amount of time to scribble out notes on your new idea and when it runs out, back to the WIP.
- Full Stop: take a break from you WIP and give your full attention to the new idea.
- Split Attention: write both!
For me, I can immediately strike Absolute Denial and Split Attention from the list. I abhor the idea of not, in some way, recording inspiration when it strikes. I carry around a notebook and pen at all times, for just such an emergency. And – should I be caught without said items, I always have my phone on my person and I frequently text cryptic ideas to my email address. Still worse, is trying to focus on two distinct storylines, sets of characters, worlds… I have to concentrate on my book’s cannon lest I end up with scenes (as had happened in past works) in which a previously murdered side character is chiming in on the group’s new plan to escape. Not ironically or as a ghost, but because Split Attention allowed me to forget what had happened to her.
I’m the same way when reading. I prefer to stick to one thing at a time and focus on it and do it ‘right’, rather than read half-a-dozen willy-nilly. When I was a kid, I did that all the time and kept it straight. These days, I’d probably end up confusing Mr. Darcy with Mr. Frodo and wondering why he was spending so much time with the ladies when there was a ring to toss into Mount Doom.
Full Stop must also be stricken from my list. If I Full Stop – I end up Full-Never-Get-Back-To-Previous-Work. As my list of WIPs illustrates nicely.
This year, once Incandescence and its sequel are finished, no matter many lovely new characters pop into my head, I am making it my goal to practice the Calculated Pause. Take notes on new ideas and put them into the pot for safe keeping, then immediately back to the WIP. The WIP takes precedence. Total focus. Total dedication.
And now I have Meghan Tonjes’ song in my head again.
(I’d link that song now, but I’m sharing her in a week for Tuesday’s Tunes post, so… you can wait… or Google her… or click here.)
Love & Rainbows,
Its two, two, TWO geek references in one subject line! Whee!
Yes, today I am feeling in rather desperate need of a TARDIS or other space-time traversing device. Maybe a Time-Turner would work.
Anything that would allow me to fulfill my familial obligations, my day job responsibilities, my writing goals, and my social media expectations. That’s not to mention the books I want to read, the movies and television shows I hope to catch up on, the friends I rarely get to see/call, the hand-made peanut butter-filled chocolate Easter eggs I want to learn to make with my fiancé’s mother.
Now, writing a simple blog entry may not take hours of tinkering the way composing a chapter does, but it does require some time. And then there is the Twittering. I’ve only just opened my account and begun to follow people, and since I do not have a book to promote (nor a large collection of blog entries to recycle with tweets) I cannot really set my tweets up all at once and have them auto-tweeted on a schedule. I sort of just… tweet as it occurs to me that I have something to link to or say. Plus, participating in my Facebook writing groups, scheduling conferences to attend, scanning the stuff my family and friends post on Facebook (hey! Its important to keep up with baby photos and dramatic love lives! *wink*).
There are so few hours in the day, I don’t know how people manage it all. I am hoping to get my name out there, my brand built even as my novel(s) are still being written and edited, yet I have not had a chance in two days to open my WIP and edit a single word!
So in the coming weeks, I may post a lot or a little, I may tweet frequently or not, and I may not be as vocal in my Facebook groups as I’d like… but the whole point of this is to discuss and promote my work and my love of the written word. Thus, I need to learn to balance my time between WRITING and all the rest.
Any one out there have brilliant tips for managing your time? Focusing those few precious writing moments? Quitting your day job to write and not starving to death, being evicted for non-payment and all that jazz? *grin* Just Kidding on that last bit… maybe.
Love & Rainbows,