Writing and working and stuff

So. Working.

I've become a full-fledged working person in the past three weeks, and it's interesting making the shift from school-writing balance to work-writing balance. I thought I'd take a little blog post to talk about some of the changes I've experienced.

First, brain space. ADVANTAGE.


While I was a grad student (or any kind of student, really) my attention was constantly split between a million different things: subjects, homework, music, "activities," and then writing. If you've suffered through this blog, you probably write some yourself. You know that writing could occupy all those other spots if given the opportunity.

But while I was in school, my brain space was swallowed by lots of things, often very different intellectual changes that I had to be addressing constantly throughout the day. While I was in high school and writing fantasy novels, I also had to do calculous, poetry, analysis, physics, and a sport. Needless to say, as Vast and Amazing as my brain is, my brain is a box with set limits, and when I've got to focus on another thing, it comes at the expense of something else.

Let's take high school and early college as a rough example:

Brain Space:
Calculous: 15%
Biology: 15%
Lit crit: 15%
History: 20%
Japanese: 20% 
"activity": 5%
Writing 10%

High school, a lesson in truly succeeding in nothing. Anyway. 

College gets a little better in that you can choose your classes, once you get through required coursework. By grad school, I was focussing on Japanese history. 

Brain Space
Literature course: 20% 
History course: 20%
Classical Japanese: 20%
Thesis research: 20%
Writing: 20%

Obviously percentages change throughout the year as assignment, exams, and due dates increase and decrease. But late college and grad school were decent for writing "after school."

One of the frustrating things about school work is simply that it doesn't really end. Even when you've finished a class for the day, there is still homework, writing, and research to be done in your spare time. You can't succeed without that, so you're balancing unscheduled work as well as the scheduled work. 

Now, this is going to differ depending on the job, but with my current job, work doesn't follow me home. When I leave the office for the day, I flip off that switch. I stop thinking about it. I'm not being paid to think "after work." My tasks are done on the clock. 

I feel palpable relief at no longer having homework. It's been incredible for my brain space. Now my brain has an even 50-50 split between work and writing. Most days though, my writing colonizes my work brain space. When I leave the office, it's 100% writing or small living tasks. 


This is the first time in my life when school hasn't followed me home. It's been awesome for my writing. 

Second, tiredness. DISADVANTAGE.

As a working adult, I have to commute and sit in an office all day long. On days when the work is difficult, that's tiring. On days when work is mind-butt-numbingly boring, that's tiring too. There's no way to win against the exhaustion. Also, work takes up a large swath of the day, and when I get home, I often just want to flop on my bed and waste time online and watch lots of tv. 

Oh. that too. 
I won't name any names, but this week I read an interview where another online writer's advice was this:





Most of the time, writing is not going to come naturally. It does come naturally, on occasion. But if most people only wrote when the desire came naturally, we would write very little. 

I am not a very good writer. But I can look at things I wrote a thousand pages ago and see a world of difference in the quality of the story and the writing. The truth is, if you are a hobbling writer, it doesn't matter how good (or bad) your writing is. But if you hope to improve, if you hope to have others enjoy what you write, the ugly truth is that you will have to write a lot when you would "naturally" rather binge-watch Sherlock or "naturally" eat an entire bag of Oreos and re-read Harry Potter

Since starting to work full-time, I think, I appreciate the work that writing requires. Balancing my time and figuring out when I can write every time is a job in itself. Most days I'm bouncing along on the bus trying to describe a Moon God, and then again on the way home. I've started getting to work early so I have time to write because I know that when I get home, I'm going to be too tired to write much. 

That isn't to say that writing isn't going to come naturally or ever be exciting. It is. But when life pushes back, when the Muse disappears mid-novel, when it's too hot, or you're too tired, or laundry has to be done... Writing can be a struggle. 

Writing a novel is a siege campaign. This morning I sat down and tallied my word count on H+MC for September, and I was horrified to find myself almost 4K behind. Ah! 

Anyway, I should get back to real writing. Hope everyone's having a good Tuesday.