Balancing the author with the working girl

I’ve been spoiled this last year, staying home every day, taking my daughter to the bus, playing with her when she was home, writing all day when she wasn’t.  Breakfast whenever I wanted.  Read paperbacks on the screened in porch.

Yep, spoiled rotten.

I both loved, and hated it.  Me and too much time at my disposal to think wasn’t all good times.  I grew stale, mentally out of shape.

Now that I’ve finally landed a busy, stressful job, I worried how that would effect my desire to write.  Could I still find the time?  Would I be too tired even if I could?  Would my muse get right ticked off with me and leave me for a younger, friskier model?  Knowing him as intimately as I do, I didn’t put it past him.

As it turns out, I’m writing about as much per day now as I did when I was home.  Weird, right?  I still have days when I can’t write, and others where two thousand words spill out like water from a tap.  And somehow, I feel better about what I accomplish, even if it’s only a few hundred words.


Two reasons.  First, because I have no time to fret about those times when I can’t write.  Sometimes, when I was at home with hours of quiet at my disposal, I couldn’t write a word.  Frustrating as hell!  Guilt chewed at me, that I could have accomplished so much, but the muse is fickle and won’t be coerced into doing anything he doesn’t want to.

Second, because having to be “on” all day, concentrating on tasks, organizing myself and a bustling office, my mental stamina is getting a proper workout and on the days when I CAN jot something down, it’s typically better than I expected from myself.  And for those of you who know me well, I expect a crap ton from myself.

Now that I go to work every day and occupy my mind with other tasks, I can come home, play with my wee one and still have a good three hours to write.  If I can’t write a word, so be it.  I go off and assemble the next chapter in my head, guilt free.  So I skip a day here and there–I worked all day, it’s going to happen–so be it.

So far, it’s working for me.  Though, add in a house to prep for selling, house hunting and moving this summer, and those precious few hours are going to dwindle.  In the end, our lives will be all the better for it, and I’ll have even more spare time once our commutes are gone.

How do you balance work and your passion?  For those not lucky enough to work at their passion.

5 thoughts on “Balancing the author with the working girl

  1. I’ve got a job where it’s a mix od computer and grunt work. When I want my mind to relax and wander, I go for grunt. This helps me with my writing because if I have an agrument with my muse, I can put the story in my head and look at those passageways that pop up. Which will work better? This way, I’m not in front of a keyboard and pressured to make a decision.

    I work my lunch around getting at least 15 minutes in to edit a work or jot notes down. My writing usually goes in the morning before work or aat night when the rest of the household is asleep. No distractions. When I have to work that occasional Saturday, my regular day off is during the week. My son is 17 and doesn’t demand (or much want) my attention so I write until it’s time to make one of my special meals.

    One trick I’ve learned is always carry a small pocket notebook for when my muse acts like a two-year-old.

    Once you get along your job as long as I do, and have leave to burn, you can take off a few days her and there to write until your heart’s content…. which is never, really.

  2. Hi Jocelyn, I am so with you on this one…I work in healthcare and if that wasn’t bad enough, I have an hour commute to my job every morning. But you are right on – when you love something enough, you will make time for it (I happen to be writing this at 4 am on a Saturday). That hour drive is spent listening to my music and thinking about scenes. Because I can’t jot them down, I often carry a digital recorder (silly as it looks talking to myself in the car). Minutes become precious. I don’t know if I’d accomplish the same otherwise. Unfortunately, I tend to meet deadlines under tremendous pressure.

  3. How do I deal with having to work and wanting to write? At the moment I go for dignity and acceptance. However, I fail and therefore pout and generally act like a three-year-old instead.

    I started writing just over a year ago while I was on maternity leave and got very, very, irrevocably spoiled by having all that time to write (my daughter is number four baby so I can change a nappy in the dark with one hand.)

    I’ve been back at work since December and find it impossible to write on the days I work. Between the kids and the extra work I have to do at home, I just don’t have the time.

    I blogged a few weeks ago about the fact that my contract ends soon and I’m taking a short sabbatical from work. I’m excited about it, because, like you Jo, I’ll get to spend time with my girl and I’ll get time to write. But I am also a little nervous now there’s only six weeks left before I’m at home full time. So I guess I’m going to find out just how productive I will be when I have extra time on my hands. And when I go back to work, I’ll have to adjust again 🙂

  4. I worked for myself for 3 full years and when the economy went south, I decided I’d go part-time with my fun work and full-time back into what I did 3 years before. So that meant back to corporate america. Luckily I work from home. So, if I have a muse hounding me, I CAN shift my day around to accommodate. I try very hard NOT to do this though. So I write between getting kid #1 and kids #2&3 to school. Then again at an indeterminate lunch hour and in the evenings (usually for my power hour). Depending on the day, I can crank out 5 or 5000 words. Since I’ve gone back (1 year ago this July), I’ve written 4 full novels and have starts on 2 more. Plus 10-20 short stories (unpublished) and articles (all of which have been published!). It can be done. They key is balance and I think you’ve got it right … work is going to feed the imagination. Some days it will be easy to jump in. Other days, your characters will be standing midstep for a week waiting for you to get back to them. 🙂

  5. I love the way the words just flow from your mind and you put them down on is facinating for me to see that side of you….very well done indeed..Love Mom

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 )

Connecting to %s