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Clocked In

12 November 2010

Today’s question is for my writer pals, though not exclusively for them. Really, it’s for anyone who does anything creative — writer, artist, designer, musician — but doesn’t make a living off it just yet. (Even if you do make your living writing, taking pictures, waling on your axe, etc., I’d still love to hear from you on this one.)

There are a lot of things competing for our attention daily, but one of the big ones, time-wise anyway, is work. An average eight hours of your day is spent doing what Cherie Priest calls “day-job work” — how do you find the time to write (or pursue your other art) when you get done with work for the day? How do you find the motivation?

Some of you have kids, too, which just impresses me no end — someone who’s able to work, write (or paint, etc.), and take care of kids. . . well, I’m pretty sure that person is using performance-enhancing drugs somewhere along the line.

So, what’s your secret? I’ll share mine in the comments a bit later, but fair warning — it’s pretty underwhelming.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 12 November 2010 0822

    part time job, full-time artist, broke as hell. but those nights where i used to wake up in a sweat thinking “WHAT IS THE POINT?” are long gone.

  2. 12 November 2010 0836

    People are lazy.

    We waste most of our time.

    We avoid starting things because we agonize over the right way to do it, or convince ourselves that something will take too long.

    But if we just make ourselves do it to get it out of the way, instead of spending so much time avoiding the things we should be doing and just get up and do it, we find that these things are no big deal and don’t take half the time we thought they would.

    I personally consume a lot of entertainment. From comics (now mostly TPBs from library collection) to novels, to movies and music and blogs, & podcasts. Reading articles online, watching videos and such. I probably spend another 40 hours a week online, conversing on twitter, watching streaming shows with commercials cut out the day after they air (Terriers is awesome, everyone should be watching that show).

    But I neglect my own projects and writing. I have a webcomic @ that I never update, a blog at that url + /blog/ and even a design site @ that I had scheduled over 2 months of 2x/week auto-posting shoe designs I had drawn (and forgot to tweet to promote it). The thing is, I’m finding myself disillusioned with most of the things I see and read. Everything is too predictable, I have predicted entire movies (plot and ending) shortly after they began to friends, even dialogue. I did it so much with the Kill Bill movies, my best bud Eric accused me of having seen them before! I would say the dialogue the character was to say right before they said it! I don’t know if it’s an overactive imagination, or being intuitive or what.

    I’m tired of seeing the crap put out there and knowing, in my heart, that “this could’ve be done better.” Not that I would have done it better, that it’s not up to the standards I would hold myself to. (Of course 47 Echo was pretty awesome, and full disclosure: I did a probably super-amatuerish guest chapter for the short story sequel).

    I need to do more on my own writing too. I’ve got 14 pages or so of handwritten draft for my ‘nanowrimo’ thing, and I’ve only typed up about 3k words of it. I cheated though and started it a month or two before Nov. Just used scrap paper at work, and wrote my hand off on breaks. I haven’t posted any of it, but I’ve got my own writing site @ because I wanted to snag the SFW misspelling of my SN. I haven’t updated that either in a long time.

    I’m probably in a different situation that most of your readers and followers, in that I work in a factory type setting. I do not have to use my brain very much at my job, and most of my duties are repetitive, so I can actually brainstorm for most of those 8 hours I work each day. And now I have a bunch of awesome, completely original concepts (for novels & short stories) that I can neglect to work on… but lately they’ve been bugging me. Sitting there, not being shared with the world. These are good ideas, things that I’ve never come across in my vast reading experience.

    So I decided to write, but only when I’m in the mood, and see if I can bang out enough of this current story I was working on to meet the word # requirements for nanowrimo.

    I get too many ideas that I don’t act on. I have to start producing content consistently, and that’s the problem. It’s too easy to recline, and let others try to entertain you. I feel a lot of that entertianment is lacking, in originality, in substance, in message.

    Then you start breaking promises to yourself that you’re gonna work on something every day, because it’s easier to reset the alarm and sleep in for an extra 2 hours. And by ‘you’ I mean ‘me.’

    If you do something every day, it gets easier eventually. I’ve read that it takes 60 days to ingrain a habit. So if you can slog through two months – doing something every day, even when you think it’s crap at times, at least you’ve accomplished something.

    I’ve found that it’s not even all that hard to write on my premise(S, not location, ideas), the story almost writes itself. And certain notions I’ve had about the direction of the story have changed themselves, leading me down a different path to the same place. It’s easy to start from the ending. Think of where you want your characters to be when it’s all over, then fill in the details. Imagine and revise the high-points, the action, and conflict, the events along the road of getting your characters through the story, and you may even surprise yourself.

    I constantly find myself entertaining me. I mean, I’ve read that laughter comes from forging new pathways in your brain. Making unrelated synapses fire, bridging gaps. The best jokes, the awesome laughs, are things that surpise you and come out of left field whether it’s your mind or someone else’s making the connections and making your brain fire in exceptionally different ways. It keeps you agile, young and excited when you put yourselves in new ways of thinking. And there’s no better feeling than sharing the joy of these connections with others. We are all communicating and growing and sharing and I need to start pulling my own goddamned weight here.

    Time’s wasting. I’m going to be old, or senile or dead soon. Do I want to leave existence without leaving behind sharp and shiny and funny, as well as exciting and new infective-curious-thought-bombs behind for people to share and discover? Hell no. You shouldn’t either. Get busy.

  3. Trace permalink
    12 November 2010 0844

    I have one of those jobs where I’m pretty much on call all the time. That means a lot of sitting around though. So I keep a notebook or my blackberry handy and write a bit when I get the chance. Slow going, but it works.

  4. 12 November 2010 1022

    Nick hit on a couple of things — part of my process is to just get in the habit of writing every day, which is why I support NaNoWriMo (without actually participating at all). Before the first Tweet_Book, I hadn’t written consistently in something like 10 years, mainly because I got lazy.

    But the real secret — I make time by not sleeping. About two years ago, I shifted my schedule from the usual 16- or 18- hour days to the 20-hour day (sometimes, a 22-hour day). I still don’t have quite enough time to get everything I want done, but more gets done than when I sat around and watched TV, so that kind of works out.

    Also, it helps to be strange, and to not hide that. That way, people at work won’t notice when you haven’t slept in two days. 😉

  5. 12 November 2010 1024

    This is a thing I struggle with. When I was working a “proper” day job, where I reported to an office, I would often take a notebook with me to work and sit in the empty conference room and write on my lunch hour. Now that I earn my slave-wages by writing web copy, I get sick of writing and at the end of the day, just don’t feel like working on my creative projects. This results in my getting nothing creative done and just resenting the empty, paying work even more. I’m actually looking forward to the time when I can go back to an office job so I can un-hate writing again and get back to the fun stuff.

    • 12 November 2010 1028

      I had the same problem when I wrote for a living. And when I edited for a magazine, too.

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