Saturday, October 27, 2007

RWA Magazine and Day Jobs

I just love the articles in the Romance Writers Report, the monthly magazine of the RWA. That magazine alone makes membership in the RWA worth it. They have great tip, advice and articles by other members.

There was an article about quitting your day job, and while that won't happen for me for awhile because it's just not feasible (for many reasons), I realized I am not the only one who has suffered.

I thought I was losing my mind. My mind has been exhausted, I have little time and energy to follow my dream, I blamed it on anything but my job (my health, my other pursuits, etc.) I blamed it on my diabetes, thinking that diabetes was just affecting my mind. I am reassured to realize that other people have been through the same thing. Emotional exhaustion is a tough one to beat. I'd rather be physically exhausted and I used to argue with my husband about it. Physical exhaustion makes me feel like I've done something constructive. Makes me feel like my body has accomplished something, and I can give it rest by taking a nice warm bath and drinking a glass of wine.

But how do you get over emotional exhaustion?

Sometimes you just have to "let go, and let be". A lot like physical exhaustion, you just have to give your body and mind a break. Veg out in front of the TV. Take a warm bath. Spend time with friends. Laugh.

But what about everyday? What if you suffer from an intense job that wreaks havoc on your writing? Then what?

Oh, if only I had all the answers. Scheduling is important, but it's also important to give yourself down time. Don't stay too long in that down time, though. That's my problem. If you get in that down time and won't get out of it. Also, deep breathing exercises help me. If I sit down to write but the scene won't form, deep breathing and "imagination meditation" helps. (I should do it more often, instead of forcing words out). That's where I breathe slowly and deeply and focus on my scene, imagining what's happening but not writing it down. If you fear you'll forget, use a tape recorder. I carry around a digital voice recorder, and it has saved me several times.

I spend a lot of time in front of the computer because of my job, so sometimes I have to bring out the ole pen and notebook. There's something about that method that breaks me out of the doldrums and gives fresh meaning to "writing".

Lunch breaks are a good time to use that notebook and just write. I'll pack my lunch and go to the park. A good hour of this will really put steam in my writing, and this time of year is a beautiful time to do that.

And weekends. They've gotten away from me a lot lately, but a good weekend with nothing to do but write has been a life savior to me many times. It means you have to say no to people sometimes, and PUT WRITING FIRST!

Seriously, sometimes when writing, my mind will be so exhausted that I have to ask my husband “what’s that word that means…” That, my friends, has been scary since it’s been happening more often than not. But since I can’t quit my day job, those are a few techniques I use to cope. I’d love to hear yours!


Natasha said...

I can SO relate. I'm in front of a computer all day at the ddj, so by the time I get home and want to eyes are burning and my brain fried. But we gotta keep writing. I take a notebook to work too and write on breaks. Sometimes I'll print out my last chapter and edit.

But I end up doing most of my writing on the weekends...

Great post, Emma. I read that RWR article and got such a case of envy. I need to work for health insurance and to help pay the bills. It will be a long time before I can write full-time. BUT as long as I can write on most days, I feel productive.

I cope by telling myself that my day job is paying for my writing career :)

Carol Ann Erhardt said...

I didn't read that article because I know I can't quit my day job for a long time. It's hard to squeeze in writing time after working all day, coming home to fix dinner, clean up, and still get to bed early enough tht I'm not exhausted the next day. I try to squeeze in an hour each night, but if I don't...I have learned to forgive myself.

I do write on my lunch hour most days. Weekends get hectic, too, but I try to get several hours of writing time.

Since I do have to work at the day job to finance my writing career, I try and remain positive about going in every day. Besides, getting out gives me so many ideas for writing a scene, character, or book! I might miss that if I stayed home and wrote all day!

The Blonde Duck said...

Could you find another, more flexible day job? Could you possibly work at a library or book store in town? I know there's not a lot of options where you live, but nothing will kill your creativity faster than spending every dreary hour in a job you hate. I'd hate to see your spirit suffer.

Good luck. At least I get to write in my day job. After reading all the comments, it makes it a little more bearable.