This series, “On Being A Writer” will zoom in on my plight with maintaining a balance between my full-time job, freelance, novel work, and other projects. I’m a full-time education non-profit administrator. By full-time I don’t mean 9-5. I mean 9 to whenever I’m finished. (When is the work ever really finished?) I love my work, my students are the perfect handful and they give to me in the same ways I give to them. However, working 50+ hours a week, writing articles at night and in the wee hours of the morning, and trying to hold on to my artistic integrity in other endeavors is incredibly difficult.
I remember being on a radio show, back in college, and the interviewer wanted to know how I juggled spoken word shows (out of state), my classwork, and a part-time job. I remember telling him a joke about suitcases filled with Norton anthologies, skinny jeans, and napkin poems. After leaving the interview I had one thought: Once college is over and I’m all settled into a job this runaround is over, right?
These days I carry more than heavy textbooks around to maintain equilibrium. In one day, I could be found running a curriculum meeting, changing into more comfortable performance clothes, shouting rhymes from a small café stage, arguing with my editor about a title, and falling asleep in the middle of late night text flirtation with my boo thang. My bag is filled with books and electronics, because multiple tabs won’t assist when you have to answer a work email on a specialized server, check your regular email, and take notes on the current meeting you’re sitting in. Contrary to popular belief in multitasking, I’m actually incredibly good at it.
Some days, the constant upkeep of each segment of my life is tiring and frustrating. Other days, it’s rewarding and magnificent. The two balance each other out. After a day of handing in late assignments and being reprimanded, I’ll get an email from a loyal reader that says that I’ve changed their perspective on something life altering. My heart once riddled with anxiety swells with pride.
On this blog, I often talk about the necessities, not being superwoman, and maintaining balance. However, it’s rare that I talk about the intricacies of the process.
The mornings: where doubt is stronger than fear. The invasion of your private space, when your boss is calling or your roommate needs to talk. The nights that you’re too tired to keep up with your lover’s needs. Giving up social events, because you know that you have work to do. Telling your mother that your Saturday morning chat has to be shorter than usual.
There have been a lot of moans, complains, and irritated grunts when I tell those I love, that I have to excuse myself to hone my craft. However, if you truly want something, sacrifice is a requirement.
Today’s lesson concerns the space & time you need, as a writer. First thing is first: THIS IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. No one is going to make time for you: not your boss, your significant other, your friends, or anyone else. You need to lock down the hours and command yourself to focus.
Listen to instrumentals.
Use a self-control app.
Put your phone on airplane mode.
Put a do not disturb sign on your door.
My writing space has been moved to my living room, because I decided on a roommate. Goodbye writing office. Because of the numerous conferences and ventures I have planned this summer, I thought it was best to have someone here while I’m gone. Whenever I’m writing: she comes in to watch television, eat dinner, and a multitude of other things. However, we have cues. If I’m wearing my headphones, she knows not to disturb me unless it’s an emergency. If I’m at my desk engrossed, she knows there’s a certain volume level that the television must be on. I set these standards with her, so that we don’t ruin our friendship when a simple recanting of rules could’ve saved it.
Don’t let anyone tell you about how much time you have to write. Only you know how long your work takes. I’m going to write this segment for the folks who’re writing and the onlookers. Blogging/writing/journaling/etc. is not a one and done. This blog post will be anywhere between 800-1000 words, when I’m done with it. So naturally, I have friends who love to say: That takes a second for you. Come out to this show, you can do it afterwards. You have time.
This blog has to be written, formatted, edited, and reedited. It then has to have a picture on the top of it, that has to be resized, blurred, altered, and text put to it. (Photoshop style.) That image must be uploaded to the post and then I’ll decide that I don’t like it. I’ll do it over again. I then have to, after adding tags/title/label, post this link on every social network I have. I might have to boost the post, if it’s truly important, or drop it on the walls of people that might find it interesting. You know the blog post that was supposed to take an hour, according to your friend? You're now up to three hours.
Your writing is YOUR baby.
Don’t let anyone tell you how to cradle it.
Don’t let anything dwindle the time you need to cultivate it.
Don’t let your work become a neglected child.
Raise it to the best of your efforts.
With that said....I'm off to my day job. I'm going in for 1pm, because I finish at 8pm today. I spent the morning blogging. See? Allocating time already...