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Monday, March 12, 2012

Respecting the Day Job (March Madness Check-In, Day 12)


Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the day job, and what it means to me. When I was a kid, once I'd determined that I wanted to be a writer, my dreams centered around me one day being published, rich, and famous. Reality didn't factor into my ambition when I was twelve, and seventeen years later*, I'm still working on that dream—of being published, at least. Rich and famous? I may be an optimist, but I'm also a realist.

And these days, that's something I've come to terms with. Last week's Magical Words post by David B. Coe about the realities of publishing (and even Carrie Ryan's follow-up about YA publishing in particular) wasn't entirely news to me. But still a part of me had been clinging to the idea that my day job was just that, a day job, one that no matter how much I loved it I would eventually leave to pursue my writing.

That's not to say it won't ever happen. Anything is possible, right? Just that lately, I've come to realize that I'm happy with what I've got. The job I do is rewarding in itself. No one minds that I use my lunch break as writing time. And by working a little bit extra every day, I get one day off every two weeks (hint: it's Mondays).

Sometimes I feel confined by days when I don't get as much writing time as I could if I didn't have the day job, but even on those days, lately I've made it work. Writing in the car while DH drives us to and from work (yay carpooling). Squeezing in half an hour before sword class. Making sure I use the lunch break for actual writing. Fitting writing and reading in where I can, because that's what I need to do.

I thought about taking today and the Monday two weeks from now off, specifically for March Madness, but that's not what this is about. The point is (Dear Universe), this is reality. And I love my job enough to know that even after getting published, I could still handle it. Probably would have to handle it. The "Day Job" may be an epithet for some, but I can't let it be that for me. And youthful fantasies aside, I'm okay with that.

March Madness folks: How are things going today? Do you have a challenge to your writing schedule that you've come to embrace and respect? What do you do to squeeze in writing time? Progress-wise, I'm coming along. Since last week, I've edited 9 chapters. Still more to go, but there's a write-in tonight and I'm hoping to get some work done. How about you?

I'll be at work today *points to title of post* but I'll be sure to respond this evening. And don't forget to check in at Denise Jaden's blog tomorrow!



* * *
* You do the math. Guess which big one I'll be celebrating this June?

44 comments:

  1. Ah yes, the day job. Great post, Laura. I think we all struggle with this one. My last "real" job beat my soul out of me, with 70-hour weeks and little time for family or sleep, let alone writing. Now that I'm a stay-at-home mom with one more year left before they go to school, I'm trying to make use of every day, enjoying the time with them as well as making use of every naptime or preschool hour to write. Once I go back to a real day job, I'm determined to find something in my field (language software) that doesn't completely suck my soul dry. It sounds like you have a happy medium, so congrats!! Embrace the day job! And enjoy those snatched writing lunches. :-)

    I'm working on revising my now-completed novella (20K). Still looking for another beta reader or two if anyone's interested. I'm happy to return the favor!

    Kip

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    1. Thanks, Kip. If you're *still* looking for a beta-reader, I'd be up for an exchange once I'm finished these edits.

      "Real" job or not, I imagine being a stay-at-home mom is as time-consuming, and certainly as valid. Good luck with the eventual job hunt, when it happens!

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  2. I'm lucky that my day job involves working with my target audience (teenagers) and making art (cool). There are days when I want to quote Jane from Firefly "You are Damaging My Calm" and another bumper sticker: I MAY LOOK CALM ON THE OUTSIDE BUT I'VE KILLED YOU THREE TIMES ALREADY IN MY HEAD., but then there are days like this morning when one of my favorite kids comes running up to me, "Hey J.Ro - I finally got my tat!" And I know I"m one of the few teachers who's just as excited to see it as she is to have gotten it. Those connections make it special.

    But I must admit, I do have dreams of writing full-time and doing school visits. Though the forced structure in some ways, helps my writing. I either get it done when I can, or it can't get done. I think it's probably a matter of the grass is always greener. Plus I have insurance, retirement, and a steady paycheck. Along with great vacations.

    Having said that, I AM SLEEPY this morning. My 5:05 wake-up call was really 4:05 to my body. I did it, and got in 800 words, but I see a nap in my afternoon!

    Have a great week, WIPsters!

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    1. That's the best kind of day job, where you're doing something that you mostly love. LOL re: Jayne. Adam Baldwin was great as Jane, and just as decent when he reprised the role as John Casey on Chuck. And I could not agree more about the sleep! It totally threw us off yesterday and we were still feeling it today.

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  3. Laura, I don't have a day job...well, at least not one that I get paid for...but I still find myself having to make time around my myriad of wife, mother, homemaking duties to write. I do have set times during the day that I write, but it's not 9 to 5, or 8 to 4, or, oh, you get the picture...

    Now, my March Madness check-in:
    Last week was a good blogging week for me, and I know I wouldn't have done it if I had not participated in March Madness.

    I progressed on my WIP last week, but this week I plan to seriously dive in and get it nearer to completion. We shall see what happens by the end of the week. :)

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    1. Linda, as I said to Kipperoo above, that job is equally as valid. Do what you have to do to fit in the time when you can. That's what matters, right?

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  4. I really admire people that can squeeze writing in during car rides and on lunch breaks! I can edit during the week, but I usually reserve my writing for the weekends so I can have hours without interuption. It takes me so long to get into a groove, that once I get it, I don't want to stop, day job be damned!

    Like J. Ro said above, the structure does help get things done. If all I did was write all day, I'd somehow find a way to get distracted by the Internet or shiny things.

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    1. Ehh, I think it's to do with necessity. Car travel for me is "down time", because I can't drive, so I have to fill the time with *something*, be it reading or writing or even websurfing on my phone.

      And I completely agree with you about how the day job provides structure. As Dave mentioned below about his experiences writing full-time, there's something to be said about structure.

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  5. Good morning! Great post :) In a few weeks I start taking classes at the community college for a certificate as a medical office specialist. Much as I've loved having time to write, I do look forward to getting out of the house and having other experiences. Heck - I may start writing medical thrillers ;) lol. But writing is my passion and I will always feel its pull.

    I feel the time change - oh boy do I feel the time change - but woke up and wrote and am feeling focused today to get a lot accomplished. Go #wipmadness!

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    1. Wow, go you! Thank you. You're not alone in the time-change-lag. Good luck with the course!

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  6. Laura,
    Good to see you sticking to your dream, even with the difficult realization that you may not be afforded the opportunity to write full-time. But like you said, it is still possible. I hope it happens.

    As a guy who has been writing full-time for about four years, I can say that the extra time doesn't always mean extra writing. Occasionally, it means you have more time to deal with other stuff. Priorities don't change. Life often gets in the way.

    With the new job looming, I'm hoping to learn something I may have lacked in the last few years, discipline. I'll have to make more of less time. Perhaps if I'd learned that lesson before the full-time opportunity, I'd be further ahead.

    As for WIPMadness, I'm basically starting fresh here. In bowling, players draw a dark line after a bad frame, hoping to leave the crap behind. I'm doing the same on my calendar, drawing a wall between March 11th and 12th. Life has been in the way, offering little time to even think about writing, let alone sit down with my computer. Today I start fresh: 3 new pages, 10 revised.

    Thanks for giving me an outlet this morning. And good luck to all with their WIPmadess goals.

    Cheers,
    Dave

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    1. Dave, that's fantastic. And great to hear about your progress. I don't think it matters what happened before; your attitude rocks. Best of luck with your new circumstances!

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  7. Honestly, I'm more productive on the days I leave the house than on the days I have all day to stay at home and write.

    Today I have all day to work on the WIP, we'll see what I can get done. I might need some Twitter nudges. ^_^

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    1. I'm inclined to agree with you, Angelina. Home often provides too many distractions. It may be worth investigating going to the coffee shop on weekends when I get up early. But right now? I'm sitting in the coffee shop and the only thing that's going on, aside from possible conversation with other writers when they arrive, is writing/editing.

      Hope you got what you needed to done all the same!

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  8. I'm fortunate in that I don't have an official "day job", but certainly not because my writing makes me enough money. I still keep very busy between homeschooling my son, taking care of DH's books, and various other things that come and go in my schedule. I agree with Angelina though - a busy person gets more done. And I certainly get more productive writing done when I have to find times to squeeze it in.

    I got a late start today on writing, but have made it through one difficult scene. Not feeling a hundred percent today, so not sure if I'll be back for another.

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    1. That makes perfect sense, Denise. And as I've said to others above, what you do counts just as much.

      Hope you feel better soon. And congrats on the scene. Those can take a *lot* of time, but they're worth it when done right.

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  9. My job does not stimulate the creative me. I've had to write in the mornings before work because after work I have no want to write. Some days I trudge through that but I don't really believe in the writing just to hit the per-day word goal. I write when I feel inclined to, which is a lot. But after work isn't one of those times.

    1314 words before work today. I have tomorrow off, and after my doctor appt. I hope to write a lot a lot a lot.

    Until tomorrow!

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    1. I understand what you mean, Brandon. Not all jobs are condusive to creativity. That's great that you're making time at when you know you create best!

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  10. Well, it's been a little longer in the works for me (just turned 47!). The day job has been a handful lately, though sometimes not so much. I gotta be thankful that I have a day at all, let alone one that pays me to do what I love, whether it is teaching or writing. But it can crimp the creative flow a bit.

    So I am determined to finish this thing this week! I've been putzing with this last bit for way too long. Time to get serious. Of course I need to recover from the time change and absolute insomnia I embraced yesterday (1 hour of sleep). Ugh.

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    1. Happy belated birthday, then! And may you recover from the time lag and sleep well tonight. I won't lie, there are times when the day job can be frustrating. But that's what we're here for, right? The beautiful madness? Good luck with your writing project!

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  11. I juggle stay-at-home-mom-ing (+homeschool) with my day job of freelance writing, which fortunately is mostly ghostwriting middle grade fiction, with what I call my "actual" writing, even though it's not the writing I get paid for (yet). What sacrifices do I make? Well, there's very little housework that goes on around here. :-) I watch almost no TV and stay up late a lot of nights. But it's worth it!

    Some research I was waiting on came in yesterday, so I'm excited to use it to implement some revisions this afternoon. (Oh, yeah, and I come out as unknown on this blog, but I'm JoyMC.)

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    1. Hi Joy, I've checked and it seems that the issues are "known but not yet dealt with". Hopefully that will change soon.

      Yeaaaah ... I can totally relate about the hosuework. But I can also relate about it being worth it. Good luck with your research!

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  12. I just joined the March Madness. But I'm excited. I've hit 92 pages, approx 29,000 words, so I think I'm half way there. Trying to stop procrastinating today, and get some work done. With the editing..yea...I'll start that soon...(I can't work by a schedule, they make me feel confined. Plus, I have two jobs, and write when I have time)

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    1. Welcome to March Madness! May you be successful with your goals, whenever you partake of their pursuit. ;)

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  13. You have a great attitude about the day job, and it's wonderful to hear you enjoy it as well!

    I quit my full-time day job November 2010. Of course, due to the money, I then took 2 part (very part!)time jobs to make up lost income. Together, I only have to work about 15 hours per week out of the house (And most of those I get to pick!). I'm on leave right now, but plan on going back (yay!) the first part of April.

    I enjoy getting out of the house, and like Angelina, if I have something planned or work to do, I actually get more writing done than on those days when I'm home all day.

    We just got home from the Orthodontist with our youngest, so I'm checking in, and now I plan on working some revisions through while I cook chicken soup for my wee sore mouth. :)) Poor child has to have 4 teeth extracted 2 screws put into her upper jaw and wear headgear. :( *Today she says she gets to wear my princess crown, and I gladly handed it over to her.

    I hope to pop in later this evening.

    Hope y'all have a super-duper productive Monday!!! Welcome, Lynne!

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    1. Ouch. Poor child indeed! My teeth ache in sympathy at the thought of screws. Hope that she had a good day otherwise.

      There really is something to be said for getting out of the house, isn't there? It's something I think I'll look into more for my time at home, when I say I'm going to use the time for writing but end up instead tackling the chores. Sounds like you have a great system.

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  14. Great outlook, Laura! I envy you. There are two bonuses to my dayjob... It's at home so I can wear a giant pink bathrobe with only the kitties as witnesses and I edit and correct the spoken word all day long. It gets monotonous, but grammar is my life. I'd quit in a hot flash to write full-time, though. =)

    As for progress, brainstorming new idea and approaching the WIP with scissors.

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    1. I'm sure the kitties are happy about that. Mine love it when I'm home, and they prefer to snuggle beside me when they can.

      Happy brainstorming! And may the WIP come away from its cut all the better. :)

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  15. First off, to those who live in the Greater Vancouver area, what's with the craptastic wind? I think I took a slow blink last night and it was morning. All the whistling and the windows rattling kept me from slumber.

    But it got my brain rattling in a good way.

    In the last month I drafted about 140 scenes for my MG WIP. The windy epiphany had me start from a different sort of scratch today. While keeping the scenes in mind as a guide, I restarted my draft with an entirely new Chapter One. I know that I'll be chopping out at least 60 pages and hope that it will lead to a tighter end product.

    I wrote 1043 in the last 45mins and found it liberating.

    I've learned to let go of my darlings. This story's been with me for twelve years in some shape or form, but I know that in order for it to reach fruition as a published novel, I need to open my mind to new possibilities and approaches. I locked myself into a set pattern for so long that it prevented my progress.

    So, yay, my cold is almost gone--though I'm freezing with this wind storm--and I have a whole new outlook and approach to my MG WIP.

    Super excited,

    Tonette dela Luna

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    1. I couldn't tell you what's going on with the wind, but at least it's finally subsided. It woke me this morning.

      Glad to hear you're feeling better at least, and that you have a plan for your WIP.

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  16. I'll admit I'm still young and naive, wishing and hoping for the day I can leave my job behind and write full time... But still, my job is writing, even if it isn't fiction, so I feel very blessed. There is something to be said about the strict routine of full time work.

    I wrote another scene yesterday - one of those I've been putting off for a long time. I think I may just finish this draft by the end of the week.

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    1. Go you. Have those wishes. No one can take them from us. And sounds like you have a day job you can live with until that time comes. Good luck with finishing your draft!

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  17. My day job is homeschooling my fifth grader. Now that's a full time job! Though on Tuesdays I do get to drop him off at a satellite school for the whole day and go to Starbucks/library and write. It's wonderful and very productive. So much so I plan to have him attend twice a week next school year!

    So far my revisions are coming, slowly but surely. I'm digging deep and trying to flesh out scenes and characters. I also might have to revisit ROSWELL the TV series to get that teen love/ache feeling again.

    I do map out what I plan to do each day and then line it out once I finish. What makes writing challenging is when husband works from home. That's tough. He has a tendency to just walk in and ask what I'm doing or rather ask where things are, etc., etc. Need to work on being able to just write and put some earplugs in.

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    1. I can imagine, Kim! That's great that you have some time in your week to write, at least. Hope you can find some solutions with the DH, and get more uninterrupted writing time as a result.

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  18. I hear you on the day job and being happy with that and doing the writing around it. I too am fortunate in that I can get in some writing (or reading) time at work. Today, in fact, I wrote out some plot ideas and a couple of scenes as I continue working my way through the second draft of my book. While playing around with the plot, I am also discovering things about characters...good characters gone bad, mean characters turned nice and I am kinda liking it.

    Tonight wil be working more on that. Possibly getting another book finished for my next marvellous middle grade monday post.

    Way to go on your revisions and GO WIPSTERS GO!

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    1. Thanks, Deb! It sounds like you're making great progress. And it's wonderful to hear about others who have an enjoyable dayjob. Good luck with the reading *and* the writing tonight!

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  19. My how the time flies when you're not looking! It has been a bit of a frustrating start to the new year, and this month has been no different. *sighs* Alas, we trudge on, I could have a lot worse things to deal with.

    But I digress . . .

    Regarding the day job, I am still working on finding a way to make my day job pay more as I work on increasing my freelance writing, and balance my family with my writing. I am very fortunate that I don't have those 9 to 5 hours away from the house, and like Angelina, Denise, and many of you, I find I am most productive when I am tied to a deadline. (This Friday and next Tuesday for me.) I am still working on the notion of scheduling time each day to write, but the reality of it is, I write when I can. Chasing after my children and the home hobby farm duties take up a lot of time that just cannot be scheduled. So, I tend to go with the flow and work where I can.

    So happy to hear about all the progress happening! Keep it UP, you all ROCK!

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    1. So do you, Jennifer. You're making the best of things and that's awesome. May your schedule fall into a managable sort of rhythm!

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  20. 2,084 words today. Took too long. Gotta pick up the pace somehow. Had to take the little'n to the doctor for an ear infection and my wife stayed home. Both caused a little distraction, but shouldn't have been that much of a disruption.

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    1. Oh yeah, and day job. Used to have one. Now Mr. Mom is my job title.

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    2. Still decent progress! And "Mr. Mom" is a more than valid day job. May tomorrow be as productive. :)

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    3. It is decent progress, but I should've had it done by 4pm and it took me till 7. I seem to be like all those old authors of the day, using liquid focus to get the job done. ;) And we ran out last week...

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  21. Zero words today (except for a few revision notes scrawled here and there). Wild storm here, with no power all day. No school either, of course, so it was a wrap-in-blankets-and-play-cards-with-my-son kind of day, with some fantastic storm-watching thrown in. Power's back now (obvs), so thought I'd do a quick check-in. Tomorrow, words. :)

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    1. Eeep. May today be productive for you!

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