I’ve recently started a new job and I have to admit I’m really struggling to manage the juggle with work and writing. My office is very tech-heavy, so they have covered all the windows to minimise reflections on people’s screens. The result is that it feels a bit like you are sitting in a cellar, and your eyes never get to focus further than the length of the room.
Now, I know I’m getting older, so I probably notice this more than others, but my eyes are exhausted at the end of the day. There are only so many walks you can take to the kitchen to look out the window there. As a result, in the nearly three months I’ve been working there I haven’t written a creative word on my work days.
This has been highlighted with the recent Christmas break, where I got right back into the swing of writing. I thought I was on a roll, but now that I’m back in the office, my attempts at writing during the week have turned into a quick game of solitaire, checking my emails and then closing down.
After my brief burst of productivity, I’ve realised I need to find a solution to this. I don’t want to limit my writing just to days that I’m not in the office. I’m a big believer in work-life-balance, so when I’m not at work I want to be doing what I want to do, and that’s writing.
I’ve started talking lunch time walks as well as the many sorties to the kitchen for peppermint tea, but I think I need to find something more, especially with nearly a week of over 35°C on the horizon. Any suggestions will be gladly welcomed!
Yet again there is talk of redundancies going around work, and to be honest it has become the norm over the past 12 months. This got me thinking about what I would do if I got a redundancy, and I’ve decided it is time for another mini-retirement.
As a great lover of goals and spreadsheets, I set out my writing plan for the 6-12 months I would take off. I did take time off work to write once before, the problem was it only lasted a little over a month before it got taken over with packing, moving and setting up home in a new state. There is no risk of that happening this time.
But it means I only have a very small experience to draw upon of what writing would be like if I wasn’t working. So I’ve done the Stephen King thing of setting a goal of three months to get a first draft out, but I can’t help but look back at my experience last year where I got a first draft out in four months while working full time. Should I try to pop a short story or two into that mix as well?
Something I do remember strikingly well from my month off before was how little I managed to get done with so much more time. In fairness I was trying the online presence thing back then, and that was my allocated morning job, but it was like I was on go-slow when I had all the time in the world. Would I have the discipline to work as hard at my writing as I do at work?
On most Monday mornings at work, around 10am, I stare out the window and think about how desperately I don’t want to do any work. I usually have a meeting coming up, or a form to deliver and my boss sits next to me, so this little vague-out only lasts for a few minutes. If I was at home with no boss, no deliverables and no meetings, could that vague-out turn into half an hour, then a walk, then getting lunch prepared?
Perhaps along with my spreadsheets and goals I should investigate tools to keep me motivated and working? The last thing I want to do is damage my career with a sabbatical and not come out at the end with three finished first-draft novels and a script (that’s the 12 month goal). But gosh it is exciting to think about. That vague-out tomorrow morning might last a little longer than a couple of minutes this week 🙂