work-writing balance

It’s not just me; other writers are thinking about/worried about/frustrated by trying to balance working full-time and writing. A former co-worker and writer’s group member wrote to say that she wants to fall out of full-time and into freelance, because she’s frustrated by how little time she can spend on her writing.

And here I am, having just done the opposite.  For anyone wondering how that’s going: I haven’t written anything besides blog posts since I started working 22 days ago. (You could argue that I write at work, and yes, I do, but that’s a different kind of writing.) I probably would have written nothing if it weren’t for this blog and the encouraging writers and friends who read it and tell me to keep going.

But it’s hard to even find time to post here, let alone carve out a block of time for actual, productive writing.

And yet: it has to happen.

I read a lovely post over the weekend on red Ravine, in which the author, a single mom of twins, mentioned she gets up at 4:30 am to write, because that’s when she can get something done.

When I read that, I thought, I don’t think I can get up at 4:30 am.

But then I thought, well, OK, when can I write? It’s certainly not happening on a regular basis now. It’s taken me almost three days to write this post. I feel a little ashamed of myself when I hear that a single mom of twins (also a journalist) managed to churn out a number of manuscripts and was going to a conference to shop one to agents and I can’t even finish a blog post, in part because she’s dedicated enough to get up at 4:30 to write.

I think one of the problems for working writers is that it just doesn’t seem like it will end. There will always be work and there will always be writing, squeezed in like an afterthought when really it’s the forethought. It seems hopeless at times. I wonder if knowing what kind of success will a) make you feel like the writing while working is worth it and b) possibly be the thing that allows/pushes you to stop working, would help. I suspect it might.

Anyhow, I’m going to figure out something, I just haven’t discovered what will work yet. For now, it’s 10 minutes grabbed on mornings when I am organized and on time, or a half hour in the evening before I either have to take the dog out or I get too tired to write.


4 thoughts on “work-writing balance

  1. Dear Elizabeth,

    I appreciate your struggles to find time to write. My stepfather, who has written eight massive novels, gets up in the morning (now that he’s retired) and writes until about noon every day. He says writing must be a priority or it simply won’t get done. Even when he was a policeman he wrote all the time, whether on the weekends or on nights after work or mornings before work.

    For me, as you know, I write at work. I wrote a half page today and a couple of pages earlier this week during breaks at work when I was waiting for someone to do something, for a reporter to finish a story, etc. It feels sort of amateurish to write three or four paragraphs at a time, as though that makes me an unserious writer, but really that’s not true. One step at a time, I am plodding up that mountain.

    Hang in there and you will find your own rhythm.

  2. Hi Elizabeth,

    I’m that single mom with twins who is writing a memoir at 4:15 in the morning, and I have to tell you it’s not pretty. Some weeks I can do it; some weeks I simply can’t.

    You know I wrote about the devil in that piece, and this week I have been bedeviled by my own exhaustion. Little things keep happening, like my atomic clock gets switched over to Pacific time so the alarm doesn’t go off. And, reality check: I sacrificed a deadline on well-paid freelance project to get ready for the agents and editors conference, so now I’m playing catch up on that and doing lots of apologizing.

    The past two weeks, though, have really showed me that when its for writing that I really care about, writing that’s in my natural voice, I CAN do the impossible — get up at 4:15 in the morning. When it’s for other stuff, my body won’t let me.

    I can’t tell you the bliss I felt when I was able to do it and I started out my day doing the writing that mattered most for my soul.

    But don’t think I”m perfect. Just know I’m fighting the good fight and trying not to get tossed away.

    Have faith!

    P.S.: And keep reading There are many lovely writers there. Thanks for linking to us.

  3. The 4:15 folks have my complete admiration.

    The only consistent more-than-an-hour writing time for me now is Sunday afternoons. That’s the point in the weekend where I’ve done every other thing that needs to get done, and everyone else in the house is either watching sports or playing sports, depending on the weather.

    For what it’s worth, I finished a novella and a ton of stories in a previous job. If you can find employment with a slowly sinking ship, I recommend it highly!

  4. Carolyn, I of course did not assume you were perfect, but I am still impressed by the getting up and all the focus on writing despite many possible reasons not to be focused. Thanks for your comments, and for the great post on redRavine.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s