Friday, 26 March 2010

The Day Job

I'm on the Lemsip and Benylin today (not at the same time) as I'm full of cold. You can have all the chocolate brownies, because I won't be able to taste them anyway. Sniff ...

Now someone at work recently said to me, "Ooh if you get published you'll be able to give up work, how brilliant," and for a brief moment I envisaged myself swanning round the house all day every day in silky jim-jams, scoffing cake and staring into the middle distance, eyes narrowed, dreaming up scenes for my next masterpiece.

Then I remembered I do that anyway (only the jim-jams aren't silky) and actually no - I wouldn't like to give up working; probably couldn't afford to anyway. I rather like my job at the library and much as I love writing, and don't in any way see it as a chore, it can be a lonely business.

I do enjoy my own company (somebody has to) but I'm terrible at motivating myself to get on with it. Left to my own devices for months on end I suspect I'd think about writing a lot, but never actually do any.

I also like interatcting with 'real' people and often come home brimming with ideas. Bizarrely, I find that the less time I have to write, the more I do. Make sense? I thought not.

Mind you, I only work part-time. Maybe if I was full-time I'd feel differently.

How about you? Do you long to chuck in the day job?

(Oh, and why is there still no cure for the common cold??)

18 comments:

Debs said...

Good morning from another cold sufferer.

I love the idea of waving goodbye to my job and spending my time in my shed, lazing back in my pink Lloyd Loom chair and procrastinating, I mean writing. Unfortunately, I can't see that happening, so will just have to make the most of what inspiration my colleagues and clients give me.

I only work part-time too, thankfully, but also find that the less time I have, the more I get on with things and am definately better when I have a deadline to work towards.

Annieye said...

No brownies for me, Karen (on diet and doing rather well - much to my surprise).

Like you, I actually quite like my job and I can't envisage giving it up completely. Ideally, I'd like to work two or three days a week because full-time + a couple of evening meetings every week is too much. At the moment I am having to try and lay off blogging and FBing and concentrate on the actual writing, because work is eating up far too much of my precious writing time.

If I don't have time to write, I'm really miserable.

Flowerpot said...

Sorry about the cold Karen - there seem to be a lot about! I suppose I count as a full time writer only half of it - rahter more than that - the paid bit - is the journalism which I love but teh romantic notion of working from home is far from the truth. Some days it is so hard when you haven';t slept well or had an argument or just feeling grotty. But it gets me out of the house and meeting people which i Love and is a good antidote to writing fiction which involves more of sitting crouched over computer but less involvement with the Outside World. So yes, I did give up the day job and don't regret it for a moment.

Cathy said...

Well I no longer have a day job (redundancy) and when I did it was very part-time. But I do have a full-time role as a 24hr carer, so I guess that counts too.

Since my kids were born I've largely worked from home anyway and work/caring always ate massively into my writing time. So losing the job has been very good in one way, providing much more time to write while my son is at school, and I've actually finished the novel. Just a shame that I'm not yet earning any money from writing to compensate for my lost salary.

Leatherdykeuk said...

I don't actually have a day job which should make it easy for me to write all day. I don't make any money at all from writing, alas.

JJ Beattie said...

Hi all. I'm sorry to hear there are lurgies about. I can't have a brownie either (diet too) but I will make myself a cup of tea.

I'm not allowed to work in Thailand because I don't have skills that make me special enough to score a work permit: anything I can do a Thai can do too! But up to recently I've made myself busy by doing volunteer work (website for a charity and bookbuying at an English Language library. I've resigned both those jobs recently to concentrate on other things.

But I think I'm happier when I have a mixture of things to do. Although the idea of only writing from home is attractive… I’m not sure what the reality would be like.

Fia said...

I'd love a brownie, thank you.

Colds are miserable. Garlic soup helps but then you might find yourself permanently at home in your jimmies.

You're right about getting more done when you have less time. My problem is finding enough time to be alone. I am very tempted to actually move into my shed. With my dogs of course.

HelenMHunt said...

I'm finding the day job really stressful at the moment, so from that point of view I'd say yes. I also only work three days, but it's not so much the time it takes up as the mental and emotional energy. I'd love to have a part time job that was a bit more mindless but still got me out of the house and made me some money as realistically I can't support myself by writing.

Chris Stovell said...

Poor you - and all the other cold sufferers - hope you feel better soon.

Well, I am fortunate enough to be able to write full time although, as FP says there's no comradely banter to give you a boost on the rubbish days. But as for lolling around in silk jim-jams, the stats show that what most writers actually earn is what yer average Cab for Hire politican is seeking for a day. And don't even think about the hourly rate once you take into consideration not just the time spent writing, but everything that goes with it like revisions, edits, promotion etc. Put like that most sensible people would give up. Despite all that though it's only since I've been lucky enough to write full time that I've made the breakthrough so it's been worth the sacrifice in financial terms to get to this point.

sheepish said...

I don't have a day job at the moment unless you count completely renovating our house and I still don't seem to spend the amount of time I could on writing. It's too easy to put things off then i beat myself up for being so pathetic. However I had no time at all when i was a sheep farmer so things are not as bad as they were then. Motivation and procrastination jostle for the upper hand in my life and I struggle to push myself. It's usually procrastination that wins unless I can give myself a deadline. But then the sun comes out and hey lifes too short to worry.

Rowan Coleman said...

Writing is the day job! I gave my office job nine years ago to write full time, convinced that within six months I'd be begging someone to give me a proper job again. And I've pretty much felt like that ever since, but so far, touch wood, cross fingers, greet magpies in the appropriate fashion, chuck spilt salt over left should (or is it the right?) I have been lucky enough to keep my self employed entirely with writing fiction. But the fear never goes away and I'm alway preparing my CV which these days is woefully lacking (Sits on backside making stuff up.)

It is hard being self employed if like me you would rather lie down and watch TV than do almost anything else. I do miss company, I am sorely lacking in conversational skills having emerged from a book and you re so right , the less people you meet the less you have to write about. Which is when you write a book about being a writer. Mine's out in August.

Denise said...

Ooh, brownies! I find Sudafed Max is great for colds, but it's behind the counter in the pharmacy. They only let you buy one box at a time because people have been known to make crystal meth from it apparently! (I'm sure it can't be cost effective the price they charge for Sudafed...)

I would love to give up my day job to write since the job bores me silly. I've been trying to think of something else I could do, that might be able to turn into part-time in the future if the writing went well. I think I'd find it hard to write full-time without some regular interaction with other people. Maybe I could do the 'ladies that lunch' thing!

I also find that endless time = tiny amount of writing, and a scappy hour is much more productive. Contrary aren't we?

CC Devine said...

The less time you have the more you manage to cram in. Perverse really but definitely true in my case.

I spent ages dreaming of the luxury of full-time writing without having to squeeze it in around my day job and social life (and without a thought to the financial reality of writing!).

Last year my dream came true. I was made redundant and had all the time in the world to finish the re-write and start subbing to agents and yet found that my confidence took a bashing which affected my creative thinking. I just couldn't write.

I found it extremely hard to motivate myself and also realised that I needed more structure to my day with some semblance of a routine. Crucially I get most of my ideas from friends, colleagues and walking around the city to and from somewhere.

It took me months to get fired up again about my writing and more again until I found a job but all is going well on both fronts.

Hope those with the lurgies get better soon!

Emily Tootsweet said...

I long for the day when I can quit my job and be a full time writer but I know it'll probably never happen. It doesn't hurt to dream though! But then again, I'm just desperate to leave my current job anyway, if I had a job I actually liked then it would maybe be different.

I only work part time but it's enough. I like the fact it gives me plenty of time to think about writing (notice I said think, the actual doing will come I'm sure!) plus I get the money needed to pay the bills.

Lorna F said...

It's so true that if you want a job done you give it to a busy person - and I am one of those people who functions best with a deadline otherwise my tendency to faff takes over. However, there are problems when you push yourself to juggle all the elements of your life: first, there's the stress and stress is a tiring, anti-creative thing. Then there's the distraction - the brain never feels clear enough of Other Stuff to think imaginatively and let stories ferment as they should. Finally, I'm a teacher - in many ways you would think that's the ideal job, but sometimes I wonder if it isn't actually the worst job to have, in that your own writing gets to be like a busman's holiday. I work with other people's words all the time, analysing, explaining, marking, correcting - and there are times when I feel it all smothering my own spontaneous relationship with writing. Right, boo hoo over - and yes, I dream of being a full-time writer in the full knowledge that I would procrastinate for Britain! Hope your cold's better soon, Karen!

Sylvia Phoenix said...

Giving up the day job to focus on writing sounds like a good idea at first, but I have my doubts as to whether it would really work. As many of you have pointed out, without the proper motivation and deadlines, things tend to drift and not get done. Apart from eating cake. In any case, I don't think the money would be that great, unless you're very lucky (see article).

I work from home now and, ironically, put in more hours than when I worked in an office.

Liane Spicer said...

Saying goodbye to the day job is one of my dreams, but I'd probably starve if I did. My job is supposed to be part time but somehow hasn't panned out that way - I worked shorter hours when I was teaching full time.

I agree that having too much time on my hands would probably be counter-productive anyway.

Kate Lord Brown said...

Hope you're on the mend Karen - common cold best sorted out by a hot toddy :) For me juggling work and writing just makes you appreciate writing time all the more. Haven't been able to do any for weeks so now dying to get back to the book. Hope you're all well - sorry for the absence. Finally in Qatar, back online and back in the race :) x