Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Full-Time Worker and the Writer

After finishing my master’s degree and taking a year off to write, I have only just recently entered The Workforce - Amren's First Full-Time Job! And you know what? I have NO IDEA how people manage to fit in writing. If you're someone who somehow squeezes in a quick revision during lunch, or you write a new paragraph on the bus, kudos to you because I do not know how you do it. I have no idea how you compartmentalize well enough to shove aside the fact that Anna left this unsolvable problem by deleting her source code and just get into zen writer-mind. It seems nigh impossible.

I thought that starting a full-time job would be easier than grad school, since I wouldn’t have homework or group projects or research to do on my own time. I thought I'd be able to clock out at 5:00, leave my worries at the door, and saunter home to write a dozen pages. Instead, I get home and stare at my laptop, all of my creativity drained as if I'd poured it through a sieve. What I didn’t factor into this consideration was that, during grad school, I could go home during the day and make pizza dough or smash out a couple chapters. (Sometimes I could even cram a few paragraphs into the margins of my notes during class, if I was sneaky.) Working full-time is a whole other animal.

I've considered making time to write in the little moments here and there at work, but my job is too demanding to even allow me to think about what I'm going to work on after lunch. My brain is constantly "on," working out how long it'll take me to scan a dozen slides and whether I can figure out what's wrong with the lab computer while the scanner is running. At the end of the day, I constantly feel like my brain has turned to jello. And it is so frustrating. I've had my NaNoWriMo manuscript nagging at the back of my mind since the new year started, but I've barely had the energy to work on it. I have so many ideas in the tiny moments when I'm walking to lunch or running to the lab next door, but even just writing them down, they come off so boring, so clinical. It's as if work saps all the creativity from my body. It seems as though all I can do is hope that I'll eventually settle in, and all of this will be a distant memory.

How do you deal with work-writing balance? When do you find time to write? When you're feeling as if your creativity has drained away, how do you "reset?"


  1. I totally hear you, Amren! I’ve always been impressed, amazed and not a little envious of the race of superhuman writers who can do that! I never could. I had to completely retire from my day job to be able to write my first novel. If only I were also 20 years younger!!!

  2. It sounds like your job may require more creativity than mine did. That helped me do what you're talking about. With a brain dead job, you CAN let your mind work on two different levels. Granted, I constantly pissed people off, so maybe I didn't do one job all that well. I had my priorities! LOL That said, I'd recommend organizing stuff for yourself over the weekend. Even down to what day you'll work on what problem. Read over your organizational notes before you go to work so that your brain has time to think. You can't expect yourself to flip without some preparation. Good luck!!

  3. I totally understand this feeling, Amren. My day job is a writing job, and often by the end of the day, I feel like I'm completely out of words. So to make sure I get some of my own work done, I get up at 5:30am to write for 90 minutes or so before I get the kids up to go to school. It makes for a long day, but it works. I also try to set aside a few hours each weekend to write, and when I can, I take a day off which I can devote wholly to writing. I often get more done in that one day than the rest of the week put together.

    It's a juggle, for sure, and I definitely don't get enough sleep, but haven't artists always suffered for their art?

  4. I wake up at 5am on weekdays for an hour of writing-related stuff. I can usually spend 30-45 minutes on weekday evenings. Most of my heavy writing and/or editing is done on the weekend. It's basically impossible for me to do any writing [other than work writing] during the workday. But I do carry around my phone and a notepad to jot ideas if I think of something during the workday. Definitely not easy tho!


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