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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Do Full Time Writers Keep Office Hours?

Do Full Time Writers Keep Office Hours?

 

hourglassI was pondering that question this weekend when I ignored my lengthy To Do list on Sunday afternoon and read a book for fun.

I felt guilty about it. Because, you know, I quit that lucrative teaching gig to do this writing thing.

Yes, I had other reasons for leaving a profession that was rapidly heading in a direction I didn’t want to go. That doesn’t take the feeling of pressure off.

WHAT I NEEDED TO DO ON SUNDAY:

  • Figure out where I’m supposed to go next in the 1st draft of my WIP
  • Do the background reading I need for two potential projects and take notes
  • Write my blogs for the week
  • Research pricing for school visits and start putting together promotional information
  • Research a list of people to contact for school visits
  • Stop freaking out and thinking I will never again have another good idea or finish another book

WHAT I DID INSTEAD:

  • Read a book in my hammock

As a teacher, I often worked past school hours. I had lesson planning to do, papers to correct, grades to enter online. But I limited the time I spent on schoolwork at home. I hardly ever checked my work email from home. I portioned out what I brought home to grade, and lots of times I never even took it out of my bag — carried it back to school uncorrected — and never felt guilty. Teaching was my job, not my life.

But writing — I did that in all the spare moments of my day. Those evenings when I didn’t grade the papers I brought home, I was probably writing instead. I squeezed writing in every second I could. I had no choice.

So how do I wrap my mind around the idea that writing is my job now — and that it should get a portion of my day, but not all of it? I don’t have to squeeze it in anymore, and so I shouldn’t work on it every second I’m not doing something else.

Do I establish “office hours” for writing? How do I accommodate my penchant for blogging over coffee in the morning, but writing first drafts late at night? Is it not the time of day, but the number of hours that count?

Do I tally up the hours I spend working this new job and when I reach my limit, close the computer and say, “No more today?”

 

 

15 Responses to Do Full Time Writers Keep Office Hours?

  1. Good question! It’s probably a day job that you have to let spill into other areas just because of the very nature of writing. (And promoting and all that other stuff we have to do.)
    I admire that you decided to do it full time. The idea of being a full time writer scares me. Too much pressure.

  2. You raise good points – and questions. Though I must applaud you reading a book in a hammock all day. It’s like a mini-vacation!

  3. I hear you! We home school and trying to designate what happens when is the biggest stress of my life. Regardless, I’ve found that if I schedule chunks of time a two hour block in the morning and a 3 to 4 hour block in the after noon, I’m super productive on the writing front. Of course, that means the kids have to be independently working on their own tasks while I’m occupied…which is the challenge…which is probably why I write so slowly. =)

  4. Keith Wynn says:

    So THIS is why I haven’t seen you on blog roll for a while – I didn’t know you had this new blog!!! I’ve missed you. Can I follow here through GFC??

  5. J E Oneil says:

    I’m on the side of as long as you get the hours in, it doesn’t matter when. Maybe it will help to keep a record of when you write to make sure you get the right amount of time in. You’ll figure it out :). You just need to get used to your new job.

  6. mshatch says:

    Well, first off it was Sunday and imo you should never feel guilty about taking Sunday off to do what you want – in fact, it should be compulsory! But yeah, I think if writing was my full-time gig I might try to set the time aside to write. I wouldn’t mind having my weekends back.

  7. My suggestion would be to put yourself on a schedule. Then you know when writing time is, when promo time is, etc. And of course reading time and housework should also be in there. Okay, maybe not housework. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Tess Grant says:

    I like Kelly’s scheduling idea. I know that if I were writing full-time, I’d always find a way to put it on the back burner.

  9. I put reading a book anywhere into the “research” category. I forget the last time I just read something because I had free time. Now “free time” is in the same category as “extra money.” That category’s called No Such Thing.

    Hope your day in the hammock regenerated you.

  10. Lexa Cain says:

    I have no clue how to balance things. I try to devote a certain amount of time to writing every day, but sometimes I’m just not sure where I’m going with things and need to think. I’ve been on a serious reading kick in the last few months. It started as wanting to figure out what a Thriller was (since that’s what my WIP is and not knowing could be a bit of a hindrance), but then I found a series I adored. Problem is, now I think I suck compared to that writer. lol Sometimes you can’t win – but you just keep going anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Hilary says:

    Hi Dianne – I’m sure it’ll take you a while to work out a routine … as you adjust to not having the day job. But Sunday’s read sounded a lovely time … just relaxing after retiring for a brief few hours!

    Cheers and enjoy … it will all fall into place – Hilary

  12. Amy Mak says:

    It’s a very good question – and I’ll be interested in how you navigate. I’m glad you read the book and resisted the guilt. After all, Stephen King says if you don’t have enough time to read, you don’t have enough time to write. I should follow that advice ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Steven Symes says:

    Sorry I’m late to the party here, but I have to leave a comment. I’ve been through all sorts of trial and error with scheduling and working as a full-time writer. At first I tried the working hours thing, but that doesn’t really work too well when you’re on a good streak and it’s quitting time. I’ve finally realized that not having a set schedule is a blessing, and it means some days I work more than others. My concept of a weekend has been annihilated, but that means I can go to a movie early on a Wednesday and have the theater to myself. I’ve since learned that many successful entrepreneurs do just that, and that it works quite well for them. I’m more productive now that I just go with the flow instead of worrying about scheduling my work time.

  14. Robin says:

    Dianne,

    I have struggled with this, too. I used to blog in the morning… but that sometimes meant my writing got very little time. Or not my best time. So, I decided to move my writing to the morning and fit the rest of my life in around that, including my blogging. It has mostly worked better. Of course, this morning I haven’t written a lick and been reading blogs for hours in an effort to catch up.

    I have taken the long way around to say… I would write during what I consider my most productive time. I would set those as my “office hours” and not allow other things to interfere with that time. It is why like morning, because the most important thing is attacked first. If, for some reason it isn’t, like today… well, then it gets slotted for later in the day. Or sometimes I just take a day off. BTW, I sometimes read during my writing time. I really think that reading makes us better writers and we need to refuel our imagination.