Writing While Working
Today is my last day at my current job, and I thought it would be a good day to look into the topic of trying to write while working a full time job. I recently saw someone on Twitter ask how people could work all day and then come home to write. I actually do things in the opposite order most of the time, and my new position is going to help a great deal with that.
I'm a morning person, and my current position allows me to sign in pretty early to start my day. This means that I get to end the day in the middle of the afternoon, and for a while, that was when I would do my writing. However, since things have started picking up at work as the pandemic is coming to an end, I have usually been too exhausted and worn out to write. The schedule for my new position requires later hours as there are several meetings that occur in the afternoon, so I will have less time in the evenings, but more time when I'm fresh to write.
To get in the habit, I've started writing more before my workday begins to try to get used to the change. It's not easy, and sometimes if the day has a lot of meetings or I'm anxious about something, I can struggle to write at all. However, I try to at least add a few words to my WIP, even when I don't feel like it. Sometimes, pushing myself to write just a paragraph leads to me finding my writing headspace, and I manage to complete much more than expected.
It can also be difficult to find time to write on days off because there are other things that require our attention. For instance, kids sports, laundry, grocery shopping, and cleaning are all things that we typically complete on our days off that reduce the available time to write. Experts suggest maintaining the same wake-up time every day, even on the weekends, to keep our sleep clocks in order and to avoid the grogginess on Monday morning. I don't know about you, but I finally have a teenager, and I love getting some extra Z's on a Saturday. However, if I try to maintain the same writing schedule, with a slight variation, it helps. For example, I normally get up around 5:30 during the week, but on the weekend, it's closer to 8. But if I still set out to start writing soon after I wake, my mind becomes used to being in that headspace within a certain timeframe of waking up.
Playing around with the schedule and finding something that works for you is also helpful. If you're more of a night owl, maybe give your brain a break between the end of your workday and when you start writing. Workout, have dinner, relax with a show or two, and then write before you go to bed. This may work better if you either are a pen/paper writer or you can reduce the blue light from your screen, as that may interfere with your sleep.
Alternatively, if you get a long lunchbreak (my husband gets an hour, though he rarely takes the whole time), perhaps use some of that time to write. In the before times, my agency had set up computer stations in the courtyard to allow employees to work outside. If you can take your laptop (or notepad and pen) away from your desk (or just to a place that doesn't feel like work if you don't work in an office) to change the scenery and get you out of the work mindset, it may help.
Trying to pursue a writing passion while working full time is not easy, and you should give yourself a pat on the back for even trying to make it work. If you miss your word count goal, or just aren't feeling inspired for a day, it's okay to take a break and try again tomorrow, or the next day, or even wait until the weekend. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint, and it's important to give yourself time for self care as well.
Happy Friday, everyone! I'm looking forward to closing out this chapter in my life and starting fresh with my new job in a week. Next week, I have my MFA residency, and I'm excited to get feedback on the four chapters I submitted to my instructor!
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