Writing between the hours of 9 and 5 is really difficult for me. And it’s taken me six years as a professional, full-time writer to recognize that it’s sort of a problem.
How it has always worked before is that I spent the almighty Designated Working Hours doing all of the writing tasks that are not writing: emailing, scheduling interviews, conducting interviews, editing, researching, invoicing, etc., etc. Actual writing was reserved for the couch, after hours or on the weekends. So that’s what I did.
In case your labor relations eyebrow just arched, yes, that is a recipe for working all the time. Or, at least, a few evenings a week and usually one weekend day. But like the prima donna that every writer is deep inside, I believed this was My Method. This was The Recipe for The Magic. It’s how I triggered my creative flow.
Guess who does not give a shit about creative flow? Babies. Now that I have one, and my husband and I are daily engaged in a routine that is the midpoint between a balance beam, hot potato and heaven, when my working time is up, my working time is up. So when I toss our squishy potato to Mike at 8am, I’ve got until 5pm before she gets tossed right back. And while I may toss her into bed two hours later, there is no creative flow left in my brain juices at that point. Squishy potatoes feed on the brain juice of others. If you didn’t know.
This is not a complaint. I like that one of my itty bitty human’s powers is to force me to work normal business hours. It’s an adjustment though. It means a) I don’t get as much done, and b) I have to estimate how long something will take to write. And then write it in that period of time. OHMYGODSTOPPRESSURINGMETIME.
My imaginary world, in which there are an infinite number of hours during evenings and weekends, made my former writing time so constraint free. If this takes an hour, great. If it takes four hours, I’ll go to bed later. Easy. Unless you’re definitely going to need to wake up at 6am. Or 2am.
Infinite-hour time periods, real or imagined, no longer exist. And so writing must be confined to the same restraints that everything else is: a time slot on my to-do list with a start time and an end time. Ugh. How do I do this?
Funny I should ask. One of my go-to pieces of advice for people who are thinking about getting
into the freelancing business is that if you want to be a professional writer, you have to let go of the idea that your writing is so stinking precious. It’s a craft. It has to be developed. It will be reworked by others. You have to accept that and learn from it and change and grow and get better at it. It never was a perfect piece of art and it never will be. It’s a product you develop and sell, develop and sell, repeat.
And that high and mighty speech is obviously one I need to give to myself with regard to this writing during the day business. My work isn’t magically birthed from a rare mental space free from the constraints of time. It can be fit into a time slot on a to-do list that falls between 9am and 5pm on weekdays. Because I am a
big girl professional, just like I tell everyone else to be. And my reward at the end of the day is more than worth it.