Until September 2017, I worked part-time.
And I had done so for the previous four years. It was a choice I made so that I could spend serious time writing. When I’ve worked full-time, I’ve found it very difficult to write. I found it hard to stay motivated, to keep up my energy, and to keep my creativity flowing. I thought I wasn’t capable of writing frequently and well while holding down a full-time job.
I may revise this opinion in the coming months, but now I think that the problem wasn’t my own capability. It was those jobs.
I thought I was very good at making time for writing, no matter what, but now I realise that although I am great at organising my time and prioritising, even the best time management unicorn in the universe will be defeated by:
- a long commute
- work that is mentally draining
- just being too damn tired from work by the time you get to writing
I took my current job for three reasons – all of which I knew would help my writing:
1. The intellectual and creative challenge
I find that the more I use my brain at work, the more I want to use my brain, generally. It’s all about the state of flow – it’s wonderful and addictive. My job presents me with a bunch of new challenges and learning opportunities and that keeps me creative. I really enjoy my job and I’m happy to go to work in the morning – and I’m much more productive when I’m happy.
2. I can worry about money less
I wouldn’t say I’m free of all financial woes – I’m a millennial living in London who feels the cold too much to even consider moving up north (plus, all my family, who I’m quite close to, are here, I’m a Londoner born and bred). So I will always face challenges, and worry about the future and whether I’m making the right decisions. However, now I’m less panicked about the near future!
As readers of my Charity Shop Tuesday series will have know, I am naturally thrifty, but even so, working part-time and never being able to save anything made me anxious. I could only afford to move out of my parents’ house because I moved in with my partner, who works part-time himself. I hated checking my bank balance and seeing that I’d spent some of my savings that month because my salary didn’t cover my outgoings.
The thing is, I like having money. Being a “starving artist” has never sounded romantic to me. I like being able to pay for meals out and to get the faster, more expensive transport option if I want to. Having more money means that I’m happier – and again, this means I stay productive.
3. I have my own office
This is a big one! I used to work in an open-plan office, which I didn’t mind when I worked part-time, because my colleagues are lovely people. But I am so, so glad to have my own office now. I couldn’t work on my writing during my lunch breaks, when I worked in the open-plan office, because a) I didn’t have the quiet I needed to concentrate, and b) I hate creative writing when there are other people in the room. Seriously. I’ve never been one of those laptop-in-cafe writers. I can do non-fiction projects, like blogging, and scripting ecourses, when there are other people around – I’ve gone to a ‘working brunch’ and got a lot done – but when I’m writing fiction, being around other people makes me feel painfully self-conscious. Also, I hate laptops. HATE. Why would you hunch over a miniature screen and type on an inconveniently small keyboard when you could write on a desktop computer with a full-size monitor and keyboard and sit in an properly supportive desk chair?
It also means that I can write after work, which has turned out to be surprisingly effective! I haven’t managed to get up early enough to get much writing done before work, yet, though this is something I want to try, but I’ve stayed in my office to write for a couple of hours after work several times now and it’s been wonderful.
It’s all about energy management.
I’m not wasting energy on being bored at work, on worrying about money, or on a long commute. I live close enough to work to walk home, so that’s what I do, and I write first, so that it doesn’t matter that the journey home will tire me out. I’m optimistic that these strategies will help me continue to write and edit and finish my NaNoReWriMo project!
Today, energy management was foremost in my mind because I have a cough and barely slept last night – so I made sure to write during lunch, just in case I was too tired after work.
I wrote 1255 words, during my lunch break.
I wrote this blog post in about half an hour, after I’d finished work.