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Granada
09-11-2013, 02:41 AM
I am wondering how folks go to their fast paced, high intensity workplaces (virtual or actual), and also achieve sustained, successful writing in their lives.

I do not mean 'finding the time'. I mean, what are the things you do to shut down your work brain and shift to writing? Do you do anything consciously to help? How have you been able to give full focus to both a strong career and to writing without feeling schizophrenic whiplash everyday?

(Disclaimer: I'm no phycologist, and mean no disrespect to the condition of schizophrenia, but I hope you can see the pain my brain expresses when I sit down to write during an intense workweek.)

I am looking for advice on how to manage and enjoy this lifestyle because I love both my job and writing, but want to be more productive (at both). Is it possible, or a pipedream?

Thanks,
G

robjvargas
09-11-2013, 02:50 AM
Ain't been published yet. Can't say I've been successful.

But I've got an hour long train ride every morning and afternoon to write, edit, revise, etc. I use it. Then I get downtown and I get all I.T. geek for 8, 10, however many hours. :D

Aerial
09-11-2013, 03:05 AM
Sadly, since I went back to work full time I've barely written anything.

I love my job, but after 8 hours of engineering problem solving my creative brain is tired. And once the kids are fed, the homework is checked, dishes are done, etc, the rest of me is too tired to want to write, too.

It's hard to argue against a generous, steady income doing something I enjoy, but part of me will always want to also be a writer. I haven't yet figured out how to do both.

Aerial

LOTLOF
09-11-2013, 03:54 AM
When I work I some times think about writing.

When I write I never think about work.

It's just a matter of focus. Nothing is more important to me than my writing.

Beachgirl
09-11-2013, 04:05 AM
I have both a demanding full-time career and a writing career. I've come up with a few things that help my brain switch gears. YMMV.

If writing on my lunch hour:
1. Shut my office door. Office chatter is distracting.
2. Turn off the computer monitor. The email that comes in during lunch can wait.
3. Do NOT answer that phone! That's why they invented voice mail.
4. I have a wrap-around desk, with working spaces on three sides. When I'm working, though, I usually face my computer monitor. So if I'm going to write during lunch, I turn around and use the workspace behind me. Just that little switch puts my mind in a different place.

On the commute home:
1. Open the sunroof and soak up some sun. My office has no windows (which should be a crime, since my office is across the street from the beach!), so getting into the sunlight at the end of the day re-energizes me.
2. Crank up the radio. I know some people use voice recording devices to dictate stories while they drive, but singing along while I drive keeps me from mentally rehashing things that might have happened at work.
3. Enjoy the scenery. I hate pulling into the driveway at home and then realizing I don't even remember the drive. That's a little scary. So I make a point to try and look around on my commute. Today I saw a pod of dolphin and a bald eagle. That definitely took my mind off work! But other days it could be something as small as a couple of squirrels chasing each other around a tree.

When writing at home after work:
1. I always eat dinner with the family first before I start writing. It gives me time to focus on them before I throw myself into writing.
2. I usually check in on AW after dinner (like right now, for instance). This gets my brain thinking about writing.
3. Get comfortable. For me, that usually means my favorite jammies, my glass of iced tea, and a poodle (or two or three) curled up around me.

And then I'm ready to write. Or in tonight's case, edit. Fun times!

ebbrown
09-11-2013, 04:14 AM
I have a tremendous drive to run at everything I do full speed ahead. I am an ER RN in one of the most dangerous cities in America. I frequently work 12.5 hour shifts where I need to deal with crap most people think doesn't really happen in our society. On the drive to work I jam with the top off the Jeep and that's when I often have an entire scene written in my mind. Then I throw myself into my shift, and when I get home the writing usually flies onto the page in an uncontrollable rush.
It is probably an effed-up way to deal with my job, but somehow it works. I have found that my life and my best writing comes in frantic insane spurts. Once in awhile I sleep an entire day from the overload of mental and physical exhaustion.
I think it works for me. I can hold the hand of a man as he dies, or try to save the life of a coding child. Then writing becomes my outlet where it all spills out.
I'm not sure I will stop working as an ER nurse, even though financially I can make it work. I seem to write some of my best stuff when I've had the worst stuff happen in the ER.

slhuang
09-11-2013, 04:20 AM
I use writing as my catharsis. It bleeds off all my pent-up frustration/energy/etc. and acts as my downtime.

annetookeen
09-11-2013, 05:38 AM
Like Robjvargas, I have a long commute (2 to 3 hours to and from office). I use that time to write first drafts on my phone. I edit during idle hours at work. Then I submit, and sometimes, get lucky. :)

NeuroFizz
09-11-2013, 05:50 AM
There are no specific techniques. It just takes the same self-discipline that is needed to finish the stories that are started. I bring my work home each night and on weekends, but I'm also able to turn that work off when I want to write. The two represent very different kinds of intellectual challenges, so I have no problem getting motivated to pick one up or put it down to work on the other. There are some times, like grant proposal time, that work gets in the way of writing, but there are also times when there are lulls in the at-home work so writing gets its fair share of my attention.

Granada
09-11-2013, 06:42 AM
Hey, everyone, thanks for the inspiration and commiseration. Some good ideas and experiences here. I'll start utilizing my sunroof, too :) at least until next month when we begin the plunge toward winter, and then I'll switch to the morning sun lamp.

It's also good to be reminded I can write at anytime. At least a few times a week I exercise over lunch (when I get a true lunch 'break') and I always think about my writing then. I suppose I should start jotting those musings down when I get back to my desk.

I have been able to write 1-2 hrs every morning for the last few years. Early morning is the time I find I'm most productive. Good stuff comes out when I'm in a zen-dream-like state with a mug of coffee. The evenings are harder for me. I'd like to figure myself out and get into good habits because I do want to have kids, which will add another huge complication (probably kill my writing time entirely). It seems like at least some of you have been able to make it work, which is a huge inspiration, so thanks for your posts!

dangerousbill
09-11-2013, 09:00 AM
I am wondering how folks go to their fast paced, high intensity workplaces (virtual or actual), and also achieve sustained, successful writing in their lives.


There's an old proverb, "If you want something done right away, ask a busy person." Busy people have plenty of practice at keeping their lives scheduled and on time, and can always seem to find time to slip in another activity.

Since I retired, I seem to have less time to do things. Since I'm not confined to a particular schedule, it can take all day to get around to making a trip to the post office or to gas up the car. Without the enforced organization of a job, time just gets pissed away.

On the other hand, I had career that demanded a great deal of creativity. There was little left over for writing until I took a more leisurely academic job about seven years before I retired. Those were seven productive years in writing.

Helix
09-11-2013, 10:54 AM
There's an old proverb, "If you want something done right away, ask a busy person." Busy people have plenty of practice at keeping their lives scheduled and on time, and can always seem to find time to slip in another activity.

This.

I was much more organised in my previous life as an academic. I'd bring work home when needed (which was almost all the time), but also managed to fit in writing and other projects plus fieldwork, which often happened on the weekends. I'm a lot less efficient now that I set the schedules --- unless there's a deadline.

gothicangel
09-11-2013, 11:20 AM
I think when you work in a high pressure job, you need to be able to switch off the brain, and do something completely different. I work in sales for English Heritage, and if I didn't turn off for a while, I would have some kind of breakdown sooner or later.

CrastersBabies
09-11-2013, 06:33 PM
I'm a Ph.D. student. It's pretty intense. But I've learned how to switch gears over time without issue. Sometimes, when I'm taking a break from reading super dense/heady crap for school, I open my WIP and write or edit. One cleanses the palate for the other.

I had to stop with the whole, "I must be in the MOOD" crap, or I'd never get anything done. Ever. Sometimes, I sit down to write for 5 minutes, other times for 50.

I'm not a super speedy, OMG MONSTER TRUCKS WIN FOREVER AND WRITING TOO type of person--not with my job or my craft. I'm a tortoise. Slow and steady wins the race for me. When you add up all that "slow" and "steady," you have a lot more than you might imagine by the end of the day. I consistently hit 1000-2000 words most days, and rarely are those written in one sitting.

Instead of watching a LOT of television, I write.

Instead of playing video games, I write.

Instead of farting around on FB ALL.DAY.LONG, I write.

Those moments can add up.

I also carry a journal with me everywhere. I'm waiting for my coffee at the coffee shop, I whip it out and jot down a sentence, a line, an idea. I'm waiting for class to start, I write something.

But (big but!) that's how I work it. You might be completely different and that's okay. Find your groove. And keep it. Don't lose it like Stella.

robjvargas
09-11-2013, 06:59 PM
I think when you work in a high pressure job, you need to be able to switch off the brain, and do something completely different. I work in sales for English Heritage, and if I didn't turn off for a while, I would have some kind of breakdown sooner or later.

This kind of bugs me, but I know with certainty that it's not what gothicangel meant.

When I write, I don't turn off my brain. For me, it's kind of like dreaming. The brain isn't off. It's kind of cleaning house, chasing out all the neurological (psychological?) dust bunnies.

My fingers get itchy and fidgety when I don't write *something* in a day. so I guess there's a part of my mind or brain that is hungry for that kind of creativity. It definitely isn't off.

Like I said, that's not what gothicangel meant. But I thought I'd put it out there.

gothicangel
09-11-2013, 07:51 PM
This kind of bugs me, but I know with certainty that it's not what gothicangel meant.

When I write, I don't turn off my brain. For me, it's kind of like dreaming. The brain isn't off. It's kind of cleaning house, chasing out all the neurological (psychological?) dust bunnies.

My fingers get itchy and fidgety when I don't write *something* in a day. so I guess there's a part of my mind or brain that is hungry for that kind of creativity. It definitely isn't off.

Like I said, that's not what gothicangel meant. But I thought I'd put it out there.

I know what you are getting at, what I should have said, is that I have to shut off the sales part of my mind.

Greenify13
09-11-2013, 09:05 PM
I'm a mom, not very intense. But I do believe that for a person's sanity that they must maintain the ability to wear more than one hat. For a little bit, I found it hard to go from playing with blocks, bathing children and then jumping into writing a battle scene.
There is no one-size-fits all. Trial and error, practice and try some more, and a person will find what it takes for them to transition from one focus to another. For me, grab a cup of coffee and finish it. Grab one more and write. For others, a walk might do.
I do always say that anything that gets your blood pumping will help you with writing or other creative endeavors. Feed your brain, your soul, your belly...write, write, write.

>>>Says the person who has been on other creative pursuits (crocheting) and had set aside writing for a time (for various reasons).

Fuchsia Groan
09-12-2013, 09:10 AM
It's an ongoing struggle. I work from home, I write and edit for a living, and besides having weekly deadlines, I'm expected to be on call 24/7 for editing blog posts and the like. I have serious stress problems, despite having no personal life whatsoever. (Or because of?) Basically, almost all my time is spent at the computer except when I make myself go outside and exercise. It's not a sustainable lifestyle, but it's what I need to write my fiction.

Because writing is my work, I've found it helps to put some "padding" between the two kinds of writing. If I go directly from work to fiction, my brain shuts off, but if I spend a day taking a long walk, or go do some improv, my brain will start working fluidly again. Once that happens, I could spend seven hours at a stretch writing. But I've never had a routine where I wrote fiction every day at a set time. Somehow I get a lot of pages done in fits and starts and crazy marathon sessions.

One thing that helped was getting an apparatus that allows me to stand up at my desk! Not sitting all the time feels so much better.

Also, reading books in similar genres and reading Share Your Work posts here always revs me up for writing.

Sometimes when I just can't sit at the computer anymore and it's a gorgeous day, I write outside in longhand. It feels like a huge waste of time in the wired era, but it helps my mind flow even if I have to struggle to read my handwriting afterward.

Shara
09-12-2013, 04:04 PM
This is another reason why I write in the mornings, before I start work.

I know a lot of people break into a cold sweat at the thought of getting up early (and I get up at 5:30am, in order to catch the early train into London and sit in a coffee shot and write for an hour before going to the office). And believe me when I say I am not naturally a morning person.

But I am finding it quite productive, especially in the first draft stage. My brain is not yet fully engaged, and it has not yet started to worry about work matters. My internal editor has not yet woken up, so the words I write are uninhibited by thoughts of 'no, don't write that, it's a rubbish sentence'. It's only a first draft, so it doesn't matter if it's rubbish.

In the evenings my brain is too weary, too full of work worries, too exhausted to think about writing. For all these reasons and more, I've taken to writing before work.

Maybe it's because I'm the wrong side of 40, but these days I find it easier to try to get to bed at a reasonable hour and get up early to write, than stay up late to write.

Shara

NeuroFizz
09-12-2013, 04:28 PM
...the wrong side of 40...
Just curious. Which side might that be and why is it wrong? (I don't use emoticons, so consider it a question with a smile)

Shara
09-12-2013, 04:32 PM
Just curious. Which side might that be and why is it wrong?

As in older than 40. And the reason that it's 'wrong' is that I am too often reminded that as the body gets older it's no longer open to abuse.

At 20 I could drink alcohol, get to bed late and get up after 4 hours sleep and go to work.

Can't do that anymore. Takes too long to get over the hangover.

Granada
09-12-2013, 06:09 PM
Or maybe we learn how much better it is to start our days without hangovers :)

Thanks for all the feedback guys. Interesting discussion. Much appreciated!

Myrealana
09-12-2013, 06:59 PM
I'm not successful yet, but I think my relatively high-pressure career as a corporate financial analyst - and even more so, the long haul it took to get to where I am - have helped, rather than hurt my ability to keep writing and moving toward my eventual goal of supporting myself with my writing.

I am used to hard work. I make plans and goals and I stick to them. I'm used to long-term commitments with payoff far in the future.

I payed my own way through college, knowing that working those crap part-time jobs would pay off later. I got my MBA while working full time because I knew what it would mean for the future. I put in the long hours as a salary-slave because I knew it would make me more likely to get promotions in the future.

I write every day, without pay, because I have a plan. I have twelve years to get my writing to pay off, and I'm on track to achieve that goal. If I didn't have all the past experience of having to work hard for years before I saw the eventual payoff, I don't think I could stick with writing for the long haul.

Also, writing allows the analytical side of my brain to relax a bit while the creative side takes over. In some ways, it helps with my work as a financial analyst. Often, when I'm stuck on a problem at work, I can turn to writing and the solution just comes to me.

WeaselFire
09-12-2013, 07:00 PM
I am wondering how folks go to their fast paced, high intensity workplaces (virtual or actual), and also achieve sustained, successful writing in their lives.

Simple -- I don't. There are times when the priority of writing takes a back seat. Career, family, finances, everything has priorities that change. Sometimes, all your energy has to go somewhere else.

The real answer is, I don't worry about it. The sticker on the side of my Jeep says it all:

Genius by Birth, Slacker by Choice

Jeff

ishtar'sgate
09-12-2013, 07:27 PM
I do not mean 'finding the time'. I mean, what are the things you do to shut down your work brain and shift to writing? Do you do anything consciously to help? How have you been able to give full focus to both a strong career and to writing without feeling schizophrenic whiplash everyday?



I wrote my first novel while working as a conveyancing paralegal in a very busy law firm. What helped me was switching from the keyboard to using pencils and paper when working on my novel. The keyboard spelled fast-paced, gruelling work, pencils let me slow down and apparently the actual act of forming words with your hands activates the creative side of your brain. I don't know if that's true but I know it worked for me.

Pearl
09-13-2013, 01:00 AM
Between working full time and hunting for a better job, I manage to squeeze in time. If I write only a paragraph one night, fine then. At least I wrote something. Sometimes baby steps are needed to something, including novel. Don't knock yourself if you aren't able to complete a novel as soon as you'd like.

CrastersBabies
09-13-2013, 04:06 AM
This is another reason why I write in the mornings, before I start work.

I know a lot of people break into a cold sweat at the thought of getting up early (and I get up at 5:30am, in order to catch the early train into London and sit in a coffee shot and write for an hour before going to the office). And believe me when I say I am not naturally a morning person.

But I am finding it quite productive, especially in the first draft stage. My brain is not yet fully engaged, and it has not yet started to worry about work matters. My internal editor has not yet woken up, so the words I write are uninhibited by thoughts of 'no, don't write that, it's a rubbish sentence'. It's only a first draft, so it doesn't matter if it's rubbish.

In the evenings my brain is too weary, too full of work worries, too exhausted to think about writing. For all these reasons and more, I've taken to writing before work.

Maybe it's because I'm the wrong side of 40, but these days I find it easier to try to get to bed at a reasonable hour and get up early to write, than stay up late to write.

Shara

People who really want it find a way like you have. I'm not a morning person either, but there are times when I do wake up early to have that quiet. :)

Granada
09-13-2013, 07:22 AM
There's an old proverb, "If you want something done right away, ask a busy person." Busy people have plenty of practice at keeping their lives scheduled and on time, and can always seem to find time to slip in another activity.
This is true to me. I work in a large corporate environment and we get all kinds of training, mentoring, etc on basically being more skilled and productive. I mean, there's more to it, but bottom line is that's why a company invests in people. It's a great opportunity. I know people who do amazing things in their lives inside and outside of work and they're people too. When you have training and daily practice at being busy, it's easier to be busy. I guess that's why I started this thread, to gain ideas to improve.



I'm not a super speedy, OMG MONSTER TRUCKS WIN FOREVER AND WRITING TOO type of person
Haha, what does this mean?? I'm a slow and steady wins the race kind of person too. Writing and music are pretty much my entertainment, so very little TV, FB, etc. (but a fair amount of AW ;) )



When I write, I don't turn off my brain. For me, it's kind of like dreaming. The brain isn't off. It's kind of cleaning house, chasing out all the neurological (psychological?) dust bunnies.
I love this description. I find writing is like meditation for me, except at some point after the clearing of thoughts, I have to re-populate it with words.


I'm a mom, not very intense. But I do believe that for a person's sanity that they must maintain the ability to wear more than one hat. For a little bit, I found it hard to go from playing with blocks, bathing children and then jumping into writing a battle scene. Er.. I'm terrified of being a mom, that's an intense job! I have been all about the 'hats' concept lately too. Have you ever read about IFS theory (or parts work)? Very interesting for life, listening to yourself and to use when writing fictional characters.



But I've never had a routine where I wrote fiction every day at a set time. Somehow I get a lot of pages done in fits and starts and crazy marathon sessions.

I don't think I could do it that way but it's great it works for you! I like writing longhand on nice days too (wish we had more of them in MI) :)



I'm not successful yet, but I think my relatively high-pressure career as a corporate financial analyst - and even more so, the long haul it took to get to where I am - have helped, rather than hurt my ability to keep writing and moving toward my eventual goal of supporting myself with my writing.

I am used to hard work. I make plans and goals and I stick to them. I'm used to long-term commitments with payoff far in the future.
This is really inspiring. I am also very comfortable with long term goals in the decade range and have experienced the successes of a few projects from start to market over several years time, so yeah, the anxiety about getting it done doesn't bother me as much now as it probably did in the past.


Simple -- I don't. There are times when the priority of writing takes a back seat. Career, family, finances, everything has priorities that change. Sometimes, all your energy has to go somewhere else.

The real answer is, I don't worry about it. The sticker on the side of my Jeep says it all:

Genius by Birth, Slacker by Choice

Jeff Probably true, but somewhat depressing to think about. I don't think my well is empty just yet.


Sometimes baby steps are needed to something, including novel. Don't knock yourself if you aren't able to complete a novel as soon as you'd like.
Thanks for the encouragement :)

Myrealana
09-13-2013, 05:12 PM
I do not mean 'finding the time'. I mean, what are the things you do to shut down your work brain and shift to writing? Do you do anything consciously to help? How have you been able to give full focus to both a strong career and to writing without feeling schizophrenic whiplash everyday?

Well, work is an ingrained habit. If I'm sitting at my desk, I can't NOT work.

Writing, I have to do in a different location, for one thing. I work from home a lot, so my home office is a work place just like my office-office. When I'm writing, I have to take my laptop or better yet, my AlphaSmart elsewhere. That may mean just the kitchen table, or it may mean the Library, Panera or Village Inn.

That's the first thing - work takes place in one space, writing in another.

The other thing is that I start every writing session with a stream-of-consciousness prattle. I take a few minutes and just start getting thoughts flowing. I don't stop to worry about whether I'm even hitting the right keys. I just let whatever thoughts are in my mind flow through my keys onto the screen. That has a tendency to prime the pump, so to speak, and then I can move on to really writing.

jaksen
09-13-2013, 05:51 PM
You know, what identifies a high intensity career? Danger? Amount of work and responsibility? Time spent at the office or on the job?

You can be a stay-at-home parent with two small children and feel a lot of high intensity, or pressure.

The analogy I like is about the corporate president, or doctor, or maddeningly ambitious whatever (playwright, actor, surgeon, troubleshooter for a billion-dollar company) who loves to play golf. Regardless of all else, they will squeeze in hours somewhere somehow to play golf because they love to golf.

I had a friend who's husband was a corporate lawyer, a bigwig, worked like 16-hour days or something ridiculous, but she told me he always found time for golf, because he loved it so much. But she couldn't find time for writing.

I said to her, he finds time for what he loves. He makes time. He demands time for golf. Why can't you find or demand time for writing?

High-intensity careers or not, what you love you will find time to do. If you have to stay up past midnight or get up at 4:00 AM. (I used to do the latter until I retired.)

Anyhow, imo ...

robjvargas
09-13-2013, 06:31 PM
Sort of an off-shoot of jaksen's point, anyone ever heard the story of the jar, rocks, and sand?

A motivational speaker comes into a college lecture hall toting a 5-gallon jar, some rocks, and some sand.

He places them all on a table and, after introductions, he asks, "Who here believes all this will fit in the jar?" No hands go up.

So he separates the largest rocks out. "Okay, can we fit just these rocks in?"

Now many hands go up. He puts the rocks in, and they fit. What's left small rocks.

"What about these rocks? Will they fit?"

Almost no hands go up. He pours in the rocks, shaking the jar periodically, and they all get into the jar. The sand is all that's left.

"Now, what about this sand?"

More hands go up, tentative, unsure. Some go down as attendees exchange glances.

"Alright." He pours the sand in, shaking the jar, and it all fits. The attendees are buzzing.

He steps out of the door, comes back with a container of water. "What about this?"

Almost everyone raises their hand.

"Good. Now think about it. Would this have worked if I'd poured the sand first? Or the smaller rocks?

"Life is the same. You've got to set your priorities. What's big, what's not so big, what's tiny. Maybe family is big for you. Maybe getting rich. Maybe a hobby is big, or something smaller. Maybe your job is the sand. Make the time for big stuff first. Once that's taken care of, get the smaller in, those little rocks. Sand, that's details. And water may just be filler. Then your jar, your time, will truly be fully utilized."

Kids don't always cooperate with schedules. The air conditioning always picks the hottest time of the hottest day to go belly up. But the story above, it actually works. I feel more relaxed even when these ad hoc disasters pop up.

Granada
09-13-2013, 06:46 PM
You know, what identifies a high intensity career? Danger? Amount of work and responsibility? Time spent at the office or on the job?

You can be a stay-at-home parent with two small children and feel a lot of high intensity, or pressure.

...


Good points. I guess I meant how do you chase two (or more) ambitions in your life?

Maybe if one of them like writing or golf acts partially as a cathartic outlet, that helps with life balance. And yeah, I consider parenthood an ambition of mine.

Personally, I feel a person can learn tools and skills to grow themselves, accomplish great outcomes, and influence the greatness of those around them. That's why everyone's outlooks are so great and valuable. I know, this sounds idealistic to the tenth degree. If I had a character as cheesy as I sound right now I'd chuck him out the airlock of my spaceship for sure :)

Granada
09-13-2013, 06:51 PM
[QUOTE]Sort of an off-shoot of jaksen's point, anyone ever heard the story of the jar, rocks, and sand?


Yep, this is a good one. Kind of like the 80/20 rule, which comes across a bit more cutthroat on priorities: 20% of what you do deserves 80% of your efforts. The rest (remaining 80%), find a way to get it done-- utilize the skills of others or just finish it with minimal effor. A C- is a passing grade, too.

Mr. Breadcrumb
09-14-2013, 12:47 AM
This is really going to boil down to a pretty classic "some people can; some people can't" situation.

Obviously there is time management, but there's also intellectual and emotional bandwidth to consider. For some people writing will be very complimentary. Squeezing an hour of writing into their day might recharge them and leave them able to face work tasks they were stuck on.

Others will find the opposite and realize they have to make choices: X amount of time writing is X amount of time taken away from work.

It's all well and good to say you can juggle it all, write on a train commute, fit writing into the little bits of time between bigger tasks, etc, but context switching has a high cost for many people. Many people will be unable to get much done in 30 minutes snuck between work and will have more trouble getting back to work after. If your job is really stressful, not just in time commitment, but in the amount of thought, especially verbal thought, you have to apply to it, if you need to spend all your commutes reading material for your work in order to keep your head above water, it might not be in the cards.

If you find yourself in that kind of situation, your only option is to make a choice. Either find a way to change the requirements of your work to the point where you can regain the mental bandwidth to pursue your writing, or decide you'll be okay if you never get that far with it.

But through it all, remember that when anyone tells you what they can or can't juggle, they're only talking about their own experience. Their own lives and their own brains. It's going to be very personal.

For some people it will only be a matter of discipline while for others no amount of trying will make it work. So don't feel like it's a failure of character if you find you can't juggle it and someone else comes by and says "well, I'm a high powered X who works 90 hours a week, and I make it work." Conversely, just because someone else says "when I was doing Y, I just couldn't get any writing done no matter how hard I tried" doesn't mean you can't.

Coralynn
09-14-2013, 10:19 AM
Recently I have been listening to writing workshop podcasts on my way home from work. This puts me in the mood to write once I get home.

CrystalCierlak
09-14-2013, 11:38 AM
I'm a Ph.D. student. It's pretty intense. But I've learned how to switch gears over time without issue. Sometimes, when I'm taking a break from reading super dense/heady crap for school, I open my WIP and write or edit. One cleanses the palate for the other.



I'm impressed you're able to do that! I've been in a Masters program for the past two years and very randomly wrote my 83k+ novel in about 5 months while I was in between semesters and only taking one class during the summer. But in my second year of the program I've not been able to write much at all and I find it very difficult to switch from "academic mode" to "writing mode". I can't seem to shake APA formatted writing very easily, lol.

To answer the OP's question, my process has always been to write when I'm inspired to write. It's a bit difficult to get myself into a disciplined writing schedule because of school and ADD. So when the mood strikes, I write! These past few days, as I've been waiting for notes from my thesis advisor, I've been forcing myself to sit and write. I find I've been very blocked the past week or so (after having a tremendous burst of writing activity wherein I wrote a 32k novella in about four days) so I'm trying to force myself through that block. I make special playlists on Spotify to get into a certain frame of mind, or I'll turn on a specific station on Pandora. That tends to trigger "writing time" for me.

Last summer my (now) fiance was doing field work for his thesis and I would tag along and work on my manuscript in the car. I had a mobile office. It kept my mind off the fact that we were often sitting in a pitch black field (he collected spiders and I'm afraid of the dark) and I got so much done! I actually really miss those days.

Hip-Hop-a-potamus
09-16-2013, 03:15 PM
I'm one of those who gets up early.

My husband and i wake up at quarter to five every morning, I get ready for work, have about a 20 minute commute (at the moment. The office is moving closer to where I live. Yay.)

I sit in a little breakout area in the morning and write, and I also do it at lunch. So about 45 minutes in the morning and about an hour (give or take, depending on how busy I am) at lunch. I'm a technical writer, and it doesn't take much to switch gears for me. I actually have a harder time writing at home, or when I'm unemployed. I NEED that structure and schedule in my life to be productive. I do a LITTLE writing when I'm not working, but I don't produce as much, and I'm much more scattershot about it.

One other person at work "really wants to write a novel" and talks about it (especially now that she's seen me published), but you never see her in the office before 8:30, and she always seems a bit scatterbrained. "I could never wake up that early," she says. "You make time if you want to," I tell her. "You just have to think of it like a second job." I learned that from everyone here. But I don't think she'll ever get it. She doesn't want it bad enough.

FYI- I highly recommend moving to another country and not being able to work for 18 months. I finished first drafts of two books that way. :D

Granada
09-18-2013, 08:24 PM
I'm one of those who gets up early.

My husband and i wake up at quarter to five every morning, I get ready for work, have about a 20 minute commute (at the moment. The office is moving closer to where I live. Yay.)

I sit in a little breakout area in the morning and write, and I also do it at lunch.


Wow, 4:45??? I consider myself an early riser but I think I'd be waking up about the time DH came to sleep if I got up before 5. It's cool you can write and talk about writing at work. I feel like it's sort of a taboo hobby for me. One can talk about the company softball teams, set up jogging clubs, learn foreign languages from co-workers over lunch... but I'm pretty sure if I set up a fiction writing club at work productivity would be questioned, lol.

Coralynn, good idea, and I like your avatar :)

sophiab
09-21-2013, 02:36 PM
When I worked at the airport, there was no way I could go home and write anything. I preferred to curl up in a ball and watch tv or drink a beer to relax. Now that I've left that horribly stressful job and have a much quieter life, writing comes easier. Everyone's different though. Having a stressful job and writing didn't mix well for me. I mean I used to get up at 3:30 in the morning to start my shift at 4:30 AM. The stressed out travelers or people who were still drunk were already yelling at me for some reason or another. It wasn't easy to feel fun and creative after 8 hours of that.

Granada
09-22-2013, 12:46 AM
I can't imagine the stress of working in an airport and dealing with all those people. You've probably seen it all, which I bet is great for writing, now that you have the time :)

sophiab
09-23-2013, 11:59 AM
Oh, it's like a group therapy session after shifts. Whenever I see my friends that still work there, the horror stories never end. It's cathartic but at the same time, sad. I'm glad I left the misery and I wish my friends would do the same. It does get addictive though and hard to get out of that mindset.

Putputt
09-23-2013, 01:58 PM
I'm blown away by the number of people who write AND work a full-time job, whether it be a paid job or raising kids. I work as a wedding photographer, and during wedding season, I don't even try to write. Weekends are shot because that's when the weddings are, and then the weekdays are spent editing pictures. I'd be physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, having had to deal with all sorts of fucking crap from bride-and-groomzillas ("Hi Fuckingprissygroom, It's so nice to hear from you for the 15th time this week! For the last time, making you look taller and "handsomer" is not actually included as part of the post-processing. Have a wonderful day!" or "Hi Crazypsychobride, I'm so sorry to hear that you are upset that out of the 650 pictures you received, there isn't one with you, Uncle Bob, and Baby Nancy. There are, however, numerous pictures of you with Uncle Bob and you with Baby Nancy, and even a couple with you, the groom, Uncle Bob, and Baby Nancy. I have reviewed the portraits list you sent me and that particular combination is in fact not one of them. I'm really sorry but I cannot grant you a refund based on this fucking insane reason which you have just pulled out of your ass. Have a great week!") and at the end of the day all I want to do is curl up with huge glass of wine and watch Colbert and think about how much I hate people. Writing doesn't even cross my mind.

Kayley
09-23-2013, 08:14 PM
I work full-time as a business research analyst (which also involves loads of writing, but of a different sort.) As a result, I get most of my writing done on the weekends. However, the lunch group I normally eat with has disbanded due to our schedules getting more complicated, so I think I'm going to start eating lunch at my desk and trying to get some writing done then too. It's all about making good use of your time when you have it.

asroc
09-23-2013, 10:07 PM
I'm not sure my work qualifies as a high intensity career, but it is full-time. It's shift work, though, and since my husband also does shift work (not the same as me) I mostly have our apartment to myself in the morning. So I set aside a few hours for writing and internet. When I was still working midshift I never had enough energy to write afterwards, but now work comes after writing. It's nice to have a feeling of accomplishment already when I get to work.

shaldna
09-24-2013, 03:38 PM
I am wondering how folks go to their fast paced, high intensity workplaces (virtual or actual), and also achieve sustained, successful writing in their lives.

I do not mean 'finding the time'. I mean, what are the things you do to shut down your work brain and shift to writing? Do you do anything consciously to help? How have you been able to give full focus to both a strong career and to writing without feeling schizophrenic whiplash everyday?

(Disclaimer: I'm no phycologist, and mean no disrespect to the condition of schizophrenia, but I hope you can see the pain my brain expresses when I sit down to write during an intense workweek.)

I am looking for advice on how to manage and enjoy this lifestyle because I love both my job and writing, but want to be more productive (at both). Is it possible, or a pipedream?

Thanks,
G


You plan.

I 'write' in my head while I'm doing other things - walking the dog, commuting etc. Then when I sit down to write it's already all there and I'm just putting it on paper.

I also find that while it's hard to get an hour solid to sit down and do anything, I can easily snatch 4 lots of 15 minutes during my day to write a page, which means I'm still putting down about 1000 words a day.

mrsmig
09-24-2013, 05:59 PM
You plan.



QFT.

I'm an actress - primarily stage, some video/film - and when I'm employed, I tote my laptop to rehearsals so that if I'm not being used, I can plug in and work. Once a show is up and running, I work in my dressing room when I'm not onstage, and on two-show days, I'll use that block of time between shows as well.

When I'm unemployed (like now) I can write when I want, but I find that having no pressure banks the fire, so to speak. I'm not nearly as productive as I when I have to make every spare minute count.

K1P1
10-05-2013, 01:54 AM
I usually go to bed fairly early (unless I'm working on something interesting) and get up early. My "other" job is currently 32 hrs per week, so I've set up that schedule to be about 10:30 or 11:00 until 5:00, which means that I can wake up at 5am, make cup of coffee, and write or take care of related business until 9:30, at which point I grab a bite to eat, take a shower, and go to the "day job."

One problem I have to deal with is that I need large blocks of time in order to stay focused, so if there are interruptions, errands to be run, phone calls to make, or emails to answer, I can't do that and get anything else done, so I try to save those sorts of things for one day a week, or I do them when my concentration has already been interrupted.

Another problem is that I do free lance teaching related to my writing, and travel around the country to do it. I find it incredibly difficult to make the transition back to work (on writing or anything else) when I come back from these trips. It seems to take me about as much time to settle back into my work habits as the length of time I was away. I was traveling the first half of September, and only in the last week have I been able to knuckle down to work.

ETA: Things are actually much less pressured than they were when I had kids at home, including 5 years of homeschooling one of them, and my elderly father to drive around and keep an eye on during his final years. But I was just a little younger and slept less!

And the schedule I describe above is for weekdays. On weekends, I sometimes never even get dressed or go out of the house if I'm working effectively. On the other hand, if my focus breaks, I'll do something active for a little while, and then move to another location to re-establish my focus.

robjvargas
10-05-2013, 02:06 AM
I once read in an old issue of Writer's Digest that one method for quickly getting back into your writing is to copy the last paragraph your wrote and then delete it from the work. Then type that last paragraph back into your work.

It hasn't always worked for me. But it's worked often enough that I try it every time.

jaksen
10-05-2013, 02:09 AM
I'm blown away by the number of people who write AND work a full-time job, whether it be a paid job or raising kids. I work as a wedding photographer, and during wedding season, I don't even try to write. Weekends are shot because that's when the weddings are, and then the weekdays are spent editing pictures. I'd be physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, having had to deal with all sorts of fucking crap from bride-and-groomzillas ("Hi Fuckingprissygroom, It's so nice to hear from you for the 15th time this week! For the last time, making you look taller and "handsomer" is not actually included as part of the post-processing. Have a wonderful day!" or "Hi Crazypsychobride, I'm so sorry to hear that you are upset that out of the 650 pictures you received, there isn't one with you, Uncle Bob, and Baby Nancy. There are, however, numerous pictures of you with Uncle Bob and you with Baby Nancy, and even a couple with you, the groom, Uncle Bob, and Baby Nancy. I have reviewed the portraits list you sent me and that particular combination is in fact not one of them. I'm really sorry but I cannot grant you a refund based on this fucking insane reason which you have just pulled out of your ass. Have a great week!") and at the end of the day all I want to do is curl up with huge glass of wine and watch Colbert and think about how much I hate people. Writing doesn't even cross my mind.

omg the ideas you've given me for a story

Danke! :)

Putputt
10-05-2013, 06:21 AM
omg the ideas you've given me for a story

Danke! :)

Do any of them involve a wedding photographer going batshit insane, turning into a dragon, and nomming the bride and groom? :D

Aislinn
10-05-2013, 07:11 AM
You plan.

I 'write' in my head while I'm doing other things - walking the dog, commuting etc. Then when I sit down to write it's already all there and I'm just putting it on paper.

I also find that while it's hard to get an hour solid to sit down and do anything, I can easily snatch 4 lots of 15 minutes during my day to write a page, which means I'm still putting down about 1000 words a day.

This technique works for me too. I'm busy looking after a 5 yr old and a 3 yr old, but it makes me happy to have a knotty ball of plot or character in my head to untangle over the course of a few days. When I get a clear hour or two I sit down and write a short story. I could probably get better at using notepads for the great turns-of-phrase I inevitably forget, but apart from that I don't find it hard being both a writer and a mother.

I don't push myself to the limit, waking up super-early or anything like that (perhaps when my kids are older and don't climb into bed with me at all hours anymore.) I just try to be smart with my time and focus mostly on the things that are very important to me. I guess my family, friends and writing are my 'big rocks'.

ebbrown
10-05-2013, 10:23 PM
Do any of them involve a wedding photographer going batshit insane, turning into a dragon, and nomming the bride and groom? :D

I love that idea. Hop to it!

mistri
10-06-2013, 02:15 AM
I think it's too simplistic to say 'you make time if you love it'. Unless you have truly lived that person's life, you don't know how they are coping with whatever load is on them.

Yes, a lot of people make excuses and a bit more discipline is the answer - or at least a good thing to try - but not always.

A couple of years back I got a job as an editor of a trade magazine, while my son was still a baby. I found it so hard to do any creative writing. Sure you could look at my schedule and say 'why not write at lunch, why not get up early, why not write when your son naps on your days off,' but mentally I couldn't do it. I was writing all day, often taking work home, and always exhausted. I'm sure this sounds defensive but it's not meant to be, it's just how it was.

Saying all that, I did actually get one book finished and edited in that period, so obviously I was grabbing a bit of writing time occasionally, but I wouldn't say I felt happy or healthy and sometimes I'd go weeks without doing anything.

I changed roles a few months ago and I've read so so so much more since then, and got back into writing properly. I feel awake! I still don't have lots of 'free' time. I have a toddler now and not much evening to myself after dinner, but I have the energy to write at lunchtime, and I make the point of sitting at my computer most evenings whenever I'm not watching TV/relaxing with my husband. If I'm watching a show I don't particularly care about, I sit there with my work laptop (I can actually get a fair bit done this way - you have to do what works for you).

When I'm pure writing, rather than editing/revising I find it helps to have no internet, either in a coffee shop, or using a device like an Alphasmart - it just means I have no distractions. It's actually rare that I remember to do this, however.

WriterBN
10-06-2013, 03:11 AM
I think it's too simplistic to say 'you make time if you love it'. Unless you have truly lived that person's life, you don't know how they are coping with whatever load is on them.


I don't often do the "thumbs up" thing here, but... :Thumbs:

Granada
10-07-2013, 06:24 AM
Do any of them involve a wedding photographer going batshit insane, turning into a dragon, and nomming the bride and groom? :D

lol, this and your first post made me laugh.

I'm also coming to the conclusion, reading the posts on this thread, that everyone should celebrate if they're getting any writing done in the midst of their busy lives.

robjvargas, interesting idea, thanks for posting. I think I'll try it :)