I was poking around some writers' blogs a couple of days ago and I ended up visiting Jodi L. Henry's place, specifically her post titled "Working from Home is Harrrrd." Can I get an amen on that sentiment alone? It is.
You'd think it would be rad making and keeping your own schedule. Having your passion and the success of your friends to motivate you. You think you would crank out words like every one was the last word in the existence of the universe and it had to be you to type it.
And it is rad. It's rad in a million and one ways. Ways like:
gardening, and laundry, and dishes, and landscaping, and...
Someone in the comments trotted out the old saw that if you want to succeed as a writer, think of it as a 9 to 5 job. I admit, I love the spirit of that advice. When I think of thinking of writing as a 9 to 5 job, I imagine myself sharpening pencils and putting on a fresh pot of coffee, and typing like I'm part of some massive 1950s corporation where I'm in the typing pool with a bunch of other well dressed people in structural undergarments, but MAGICALLY we are all producing not memos and correspondence about the shiny new product, no, we're CREATING ART. It's awesome.
The thing is, I have never been good at 9 to 5. I had one 9 to 5 job once, between undergrad and grad school. I was an accounting clerk. I was so bad at it. Oh, I could do accounts payable as well as the next arts major (pretty well, actually). I just hated the feeling of absolute stagnation that went along with sitting at a desk for eight hours plus every day. The regimented hours made me crazy and angry. The casual way people would interrupt each other made me want to choke someone out. The boss was pervy and dumb - a lethal combo. When the company moved to a different town and I got packaged out, I could not have been happier. (Sometime before the money ran out, I got a freelance editing and typesetting job that I did from home. Bliss!)
It's not that I'm afraid of hard work or even long hours. It's that to me, writing is not a desk job. Parts of writing happen at my desk. I would even say that most of it happens at my desk or on some other horizontal surface at which I'm sitting. But there's this undercurrent of content running through every waking moment and many non-waking moments too. When I'm engaged with writing, it's always. Building this relationship with creativity has been the single most important part of working on writing for me.
Here's what I wrote in response to Jodi's post:
For me, the 9-5 formula doesn't work - partly because one of my jobs is to run support for my partner (the 9-5 traditional job person in our household) and my other two jobs require me to be away from my desk at odd hours. Also, I find writing is not so much a job as something that worms its way into almost every little corner of my life. Creative work is like that. I require vast swaths of time spent staring into space or out walking in order to function in it, followed by concentrated bursts of productivity. Often it's something I have to ramp up to or trick myself into doing. It's a headspace more than it is about "BICHOK" (butt in chair, hands on keyboard). It's not a hobby, nor is it a job. It's life.
What about you? How do you work with your creative self? Have you made the 9 to 5 formula work for you? Are you a fan of focus boosting practices like The Pomodoro Technique? Tried the free Focus Booster app? Or do you just put your head down and write your little hearts out?