Friday, January 26, 2018

How I Work a Day Job (and Find Time to Write)


A month or two ago, while hanging out on the sidelines with all the other moms at my son's first basketball practice, my cell started buzzing. Thank goodness I'd remembered to tick the silent button, but I still had to take the call. Day Job Business. Afterwards, I leaned into the mom to whom I had been chatting beforehand and apologized.

"Sorry," I said. "My day job's for a lawyer-slash-state-senator and when legislative business calls, I've gotta be available."

"Oh, sure, no problem," I believe was her reply. Two to three minutes of silence passed as we watched our kids work on shooting free-throws and attempt jumping jacks (seriously...five year old jumping jacks is extremely entertaining...), and then she whispered, "You said day job..."

"Yeah?"

"So, you work at night, too?"

I laughed. "No, no. I'm a writer. I write novels, so...yeah. The paralegal gig is my day job."

"Ohhh." She nodded, processing. "How do you have time for that?"

"Scheduling."

I can't think of a writer out there who works a day job for their actual pay-my-bills money who hasn't been asked that question. How do you do it? How do you play the role of parent, work an 8-5 job, keep house and still manage to crank out books? 

The simple answer is, "Well, if I want to write, I don't have a choice, do I?"

Reality is I've learned a few things through trial and error. I've created a schedule of existence that works for me and, miraculously, doesn't make my work feel like, well...work. Because while some writers can do that--publish novel after novel like some kind of Tim Burton machine from Edward Scissorhands--this chick needs desperately to cling to the mindset of writing for pleasure.

So, what's a normal workday like for me? Truth: I'm always working. Whether it's my day job as a paralegal, writing, being a mommy and a wife and promoting the clean underwear movement, I'm ALWAYS doing something.

Okay, fine, not always, because I do have a small Netflix addiction (mainly Friends reruns) and I also read a lot, but then that falls under the category of Honing My Craft, so...Yeah.

However.

Writing is serious. I take it seriously. A typical morning for me begins anywhere from 4:45-5:00 am -- yes, even on weekends. I shower, make coffee, check my email, scroll through Pinterest and listen to whatever music will pull me into the writing mindset. Then I get after it, until around 6:40 am, when I slip into hair and makeup for my day job. On weekends, I squeeze in as much as I can before breakfast and errands. If I have energy during the evenings, after I've spent time with my son and husband, I'll write then, as well, but I usually reserve the later hours for relaxation and family.

The goal is at least 6 pages a day, if not more. Sometimes I reach that goal; sometimes I don't. But I've made writing an important part of my day -- every day. Even my family understands, "Mommy is working," so if you have the issue of too many interruptions as a reason not to write, I promise, once you set a routine for yourself and stick to the schedule, your family and friends will respect it.

Peace, Love & Junior Mints,



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