This Pesky Job is Messing With My Writing…

I had a rough week this week. It was a week where everything that could go wrong did go wrong.A moth flew into my nose, I got shaving cream in my eye, and a chair slammed on my bare big toe. Oh and did I mention school started again, and four days later than usual due to our friend Irene. Wednesday one of my new little darlings told me that I sucked, and the seven year old in me wanted to reply, “No, you suck!” But I reigned her and behaved like the adult they pay me to be. That afternoon there was a minor accident involving one of my student’s busses while I was on duty. Thursday we had massive flooding in my neck of the woods which meant all three routes to my job were impassable or washed out which led me to panicky calling a coworker and crying, “Help! There is a Mini Cooper floating down the road and I don’t know how to get to work.”

I was STRESSED to say the least and yes, in the larger scheme of things that stuff was small potatoes. But we all face stress like that. Work Related Stress. Unfortunately I am one of those people who just can’t leave work at work and when I come home my head is swimming with stuff. This week whenever I tried to sit down and write I couldn’t. I knew what I wanted to write. My book was all plotted out and metaphorically I ready to go, but every time I put my fingers on the keyboard nothing came out, or something very stupid came out. I know how to spell the word WHEN. I’ve probably written it thousands of times, but this week it kept coming out as wenh or whne or wnhe. I just couldn’t make my brain work and after my third time trying to spell it and a few minutes of exhausted hysterical laughter I gave up. My brain was dead. It has been all week.

What can I do about this? Well, I could quit my job and write full-time (Sigh, my dream.) but I don’t think the good people at Sallie Mae would allow writing as an excuse not to pay my students loans. My parents probably wouldn’t like that either or my brother who gained custody of my bedroom when I moved out.

I could wake up early and write in the morning. I love to write in the morning but it’s kind of hard for me on weekdays since I like to be at work around 6:45. Plus it takes time to make the scary morning Jamie monster into something presentable to the world.

I could write at work. (HAHAHAHAHA!) Even if I got the chance to sit down for more than five minutes I don’t think the powers that be would appreciate that.

So, what do I do? Right now the only thing I can do is take a short twenty-minute power nap to recharge my brain and then attack my word count.Short naps never work out well for me though.By the time I get home and get all the necessary things accomplished it’s almost 7:00. Too late for a nap. I usually pass out in a coma-like sleep, muttering about things like glue sticks and place value. Which means no writing gets done till the weekend. Bummer…

I am asking for your help. How do you keep up with your writing and your jobs? Got any tips? Strategies?  Suggestions? Any help would be appreciated.

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21 thoughts on “This Pesky Job is Messing With My Writing…”

  1. Poor lamb! Sounds like an awful week, most def! As for advice…er…compartmentalize? Set a timer and write no matter how you spell ‘when’? Even if it’s a half hour, it’ll be something. Even if it’s 10 minutes, even!

  2. I hate those kind of weeks. You’re right, we all have them.

    My life is much less structured than most people, and being my own boss allows me a lot of flexibility. Children are no longer an issue (although I’ve been told I suck more times than I can count–wait ’til you have a few of your own for that). So I am on the other side of the hill you are climbing to find adequate writing time.

    Having said that, even though I have a very supportive spouse, I do have to work, and work, along with the pesky everyday chores, definitely cuts into my writing time. Now that I’m self-publishing, my writing time is cut down to next to nothing. So discipline is all the more important. It seems that I’m working two jobs these days and that my only writing time is now between 10pm and 1 am. Diana Gabaldon writes between midnight and 4 am, so I feel like I’m in good company.

    Unfortunately, the only thing you can do is revel in the times when you have the opportunity to sit down for five hours and meet that word count, and patiently accept that a thousand or a few hundred is all you might get on week nights. Try doing something very physical after work, before you sit down to eat and start the downward spiral toward slugsville. It will help you clear your mind, change hats, and give you a second wind to stay on task for the evening.

    1. You’re right as soon as I sit down, I’m down for the count. I should try to take a walk around my neigborhood after work but I know in winter that is going to be hard for me to want to do.

  3. Dude! I so hear you! I’ve been stay at home mom for a little more than 2 years. I didn’t actually think that I’d be sitting around eating bon-bons, but I did imagine that I’d have enough time to pee! And this summer, my little darlings have been not-napping during naptime. It’s been rough. But today is the day that miracles happen! They are going to school for the WHOLE day! Yippeeeee! I can’t wait. Of course, one of them has a cold, but too bad for him, he’s going anyway! According to my mom, if you aren’t vomiting or burning up with a fever, you go to school. It was good enough for me, it’s good enough for them.

    But when I was working I used to write on the bus in and out of work. That gave me 40 minutes or so a day. Or, if I only got in one sentence a day, at least it was enough to keep my head in the game. So, my advice is: keep your head in the game, however you can. Even if it’s a couple of sentences scratched on a papertowel while the kiddies are at gym class.

    1. Um, my mother’s favorite saying, “You’re going to school if an ambulance has to come and take you there. I’m so trained I went to work with the flu last year. My principal took one look at me and kicked me out and when I tried to come in the next day she blocked me at the front door.

  4. Have you tried voice recognition software? I used to record on a digital recorder during my drive and then transcribed later, when all I had to do was type what I had written, not necessarily be able to think about what I was writing. Then there were breaks and lunch hour during which I would jot notes, rough in a scene (who, when, what, where and why).

    And give thanks you don’t have two full time jobs that you try to schedule writing time around.

  5. Hi Jamie,
    Be careful what you wish for, as you just might get it. I wished that I could stay home and write and shortly after, I got laid off, which in and of itself brings a whole new set of financial woes. I wrote my first novel while traveling 4 hours a day to and from work on a train. I don’t know how far you are from where you work, but maybe consider a car pool or other form of transportation such as Easy Street. You would be a passenger and not a driver thus giving you time to write. I know it’s hard to carve out time when your day is full and your chores are stressful. But, write something, anything. If it’s bad you can go back and fix it later. You can’t edit a blank page. Know this, we all have been there and this too shall pass.

    1. I live 11 minutes from my job but it was a good suggestion! And I should probably say that I do love what I do and couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.

  6. Finding the time and energy to write is very difficult. All I can tell you is what I try to do. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s like a diet. When you fail one day, don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s a new day. Just start again.

    First I schedule writing time. Actually put it on the calendar like my kids’ swim practice. It’s just as important as getting them to their practice, and only missed if someone is sick or something comes up.

    Second, after I finish writing for the night, I plot the next scene, right away, so when I return the next day, I’m ready to write. I’ve got the whole scene plotted out. There’s no reason to stare at an empty page, wasting precious writing moments.

    Third, I don’t give myself a word count for the day, but rather, for the week. I look at my schedule and judge how much time I have available, and then base a weekly number I know I can get done on that. As the week gets closer to the end, I’ll know if I need to step it up or relax. 🙂

    I hope that helps!

    1. Thanks Katy. I think my down fall is setting the word count. If I don’t get that thousand words in a day. I feel like a failure.

  7. Wow, Jamie. Everyone has offered such great advice. I don’t have much to add except, don’t beat yourself up for a bad week. I’ve had weeks where I haven’t accomplished much and then periods where I’ve banged out a whole novel in a month (averaging about 2 hours a night – starting around 7:00 pm). We’re all here for you! And you are not alone!

  8. So Jamie, really tough going. It looks like you belong to a very defined group with some good suggestions. But Kristen’s advice is magical. “Write for 10 minutes, even.” You have a lifetime to write ……….

  9. Sorry you’ve had such a tough week! I’m still out in the workforce, and here’s my take on it. Life is going to get in the way of your writing sometimes. Me, I tend to write in bursts, and in between those times I obsess about things like laundry, and mopping the kitchen floor, and if it’s time to give the cat a flea and tick treatment. Sometimes when I find myself getting overwhelmed with minutiae, I sound a mental airhorn in my mind — you know, the kind that gets blasted at sporting events. Listen! Did you hear it? That’s my signal to myself to stop what I’m doing, step back, and remember what’s important. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. If writing on the weekends is all you can manage, so be it. During the week you can think about your story, make notes, do character sketches, the less mentally taxing stuff. I do find, however, that if I’m engaging with my story in some way more or less every day, it works out better. There’s less catch-up, more continuity, and ideas flow more easily. But that’s my ideal, not necessarily my reality. Let us know how things are progressing. You’ll find a system that works for you. BTW, you do not suck.

    1. Thank you for telling me I don’t suck. The little darling that said that flipped me and my staff the bird today. Oh well, at least he’s expressing himself.

  10. Hey! I hate kids! No I don’t actually but it makes me sad when they’re mean. Idk about advice while working and writing. I get home and blahhh, I’m lucky if I can finish the chore list I made. Maybe pick one day and dedicate it. For instance, Monday is my domestic day. Oh joy.

    However, I have been struck by ideas while in the car. I have lots of fun and sometimes dirty voice memos on my phone. I like my little ‘moments of brilliance.’ lol

  11. I’m so sorry you week was so rough. It was your own little disaster novel in the making wasn’t it? I have had bad weeks and somehow I had to chuckle at yours, not in a mean way at all, because I really felt for you. I think that you have gotten some great ideas here and I also think that it is important not to be hard on yourself. You don’t “suck” and you have been successful at the writing and publishing game more than once before. So keep going to the keyboard and accept that you will type the word “when” in what looks like some other language, version thereof or in secret code. Take comfort in spell check, know that not all weeks are like this-this new week WILL BE BETTER and keep laughing because, if you don’t mind, I’d like to laugh along with you, if that’s okay?.

    Deb

    1. Laugh at me/with me all you want. I laugh at myself all the time and never take myself seriously. You don’t have to feel bad for me either. My life is pretty damn good.

  12. I feel your pain Jamie. Trying to force the issue during the week just makes me feel bad about myself. I, of the two jobs world, have accepted the fact that writing on the weekends is a gift; trying to write during the week is torture. Write when you can and when it feels good to do so. That way you still get to love it. Hang in there.

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