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Friday, January 29, 2016

Rocking The Day Job

By Cathy Perkins

Waving from warm, sunny Orlando. Quite a change from this past month’s endless snow.

photo by Cathy PerkinsI wish I could say I’m on vacation. Instead, I’m rocking the day job, teaching at my firm’s management school and taking a (shh! really boring) mandatory class, made bearable by my peers (who also have to take it).

This week has made me think about careers and balancing. I know authors who have ditched their day job to write full time. Many others are like me—working full time at a job that pays the bills and offers health insurance. Since it’s the season to count your blessings and make plans for the new year, I’ll start with gratitude I have an interesting job that sends me money twice a month. J

Layer in writing, volunteers gigs, and the rest of my life, however, and it’s a lot of balls to keep in the air. Over the past few weeks, I’ve read a number of blog posts talking about time management and work/life balance. While I try to implement some of the tips, consistently, the best advice I’ve received is "write every day." Even if it’s only a line or two, put those words on the page first thing in the morning. Otherwise, the day’s demands can catch up (and overwhelm) leaving you exhausted at the end of the day.  Creative energy? What's that? As much as I hate to admit it, I find if I get out of the “habit” of writing, days or weeks can slide past.


What about you? Are you rocking the day job? Writing full time? Balancing other commitments? 

What’s your best advice for maintaining balance or finding time to write?


Oh. Even the deer came are curious about the steel frame for the giant window. (Did I mention we're also building a house?)  




13 comments:

Josh Lanyon said...

I gave up rocking the day job a while back, but I remember those years vividly. Your advice to manage to get a little writing in each day is hugely valuable and a big part of how I managed to leave that day job.

One thing I do think is that...life for writers is no different from life for anyone else working in a enormously competitive and constantly changing business environment. To succeed, you have to be obsessive. And if you are obsessive about work, other things will suffer.

I think it actually helps to understand this because it helps you choose. Things must and will be sacrificed to any demanding career, and you have to decide what you're willing to give up.

And I actually find it relaxing to remember that there is going to be this give and take. False expectations are the real enemy.

jean harrington said...

Yes, writing every day is critical. Put on that old ratty robe, grab a coffee and write first thing before the stresses of life take over and the urge to create is shot full of holes. At least that's my m.o. Now that I'm retired from teaching, the daily morning routine described above is doable for me. Anyone with a day job AND a writing career is a literary hero, IMHO.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Sounds like you're a busy lady! :D My day job is taking care of the house and kids, so I can't quit it, but I'm not sure I would if I could. It does add another dimension or layer to my experiences that shapes my writing, and makes me appreciate when I do have time to write.

Elise Warner said...

Once was a night person but find I write best in the morning. Put on my old sweat pants, a sweatshirt or two and plop my rear end in front of the computer. Do a lot of proofing while traveling on the bus. Carried a notebook and pen when I was working full time. Your job sounds as if you might get some ideas worth writing about.

Cathy Perkins said...

You make an excellent point @Josh. It is about commitment and choices.

When I started writing, it was this marvelously fun creative outlet. Now fast forward a few years of learning (LOTS of learning). At a writing masterclass, one of the instructors told me, "You have talent, quit being a damn dilettante."
Hmm...dilettante: a person who cultivates an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge.
It took me a while to figure out what she actually meant. If writing is something you really want to go - make the commitment. And as you pointed out, Josh, "things must and will be sacrificed."

Cathy Perkins said...

You nailed it @Jean

By the end of the day, my brain is toast. Lovely still for reading but at best a scribbled "scene-lette" idea.

Cathy Perkins said...

@Anne Marie - taking care of house and home is a huge responsibility! I also find those family themes showing up in my writing.

Cathy Perkins said...

@Elise - I'm a night owl by nature too. (Will still read late into the wee hours if given a chance.)

Your editing comment made me laugh. I had a print out of Malbec Mayhem with me last month to edit between sessions of Mohs surgery. The doctor asked if I was editing my dissertation (Where did she come up with that????) When I explained, she got excited, asked about a million questions - and I either spawned a new writer or found a new reader. :)

Lisa Q. Mathews said...

My day jobs entail freelance copywriting/editing, caretaking for my live-in, 96 y.o. mom, subbing at the middle school, and we're about to welcome a new puppy. I always wonder where the hours go. I absolutely know that the best way to get those words rolling is to write first thing in the am, way early. And...I'm useless then. I am so jealous of you guys!

Marcelle Dubé said...

Yep, wage work takes up a huge amount of time. I can't bring myself to get up any earlier than I do, however, so I write as soon as I get home. Fortunately, the kids are grown and self-sufficient, so I can put my words in before worrying about eating. Thank goodness for weekends.

Mia Kay said...

Hi, Cathy!

I'm still rocking a day job. Though I will say I "downsized" a few years ago so I could write. I left a high-stress job for one that was less demanding. Now I'm actively making a plan for next steps.

As for writing every day ... I have to or I get irritable. Usually it's shorter snippets (or blog posts and marketing) through the week and then longer sessions on the weekend. My husband works weekend shifts, so I have those days to myself for LONG writing stints.

Cathy Perkins said...

@Lisa - you have a number of balls in the air too!

As Jenny Crusie says, Many roads to Oz

Cathy Perkins said...

@Marcelle & @Mia - sounds like you've found routines that work for you. And yes, thank goodness for weekends!

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