Would You Really Write More If You Didn’t Have A Job?
I thought I would – but I haven’t!
Have you ever wished you could escape from your day job and just write? Does it feel as though your job holds you back from making progress with your writing?
If only you didn’t have to work.
I used to think like that too
I used to look at all the bloggers on Medium who were putting out several articles a week and be envious of them. If only I had the time and energy to do that.
I was jealous of authors who had shaken off the shackles of the day job and were able to work full-time on their books and book marketing.
For the last few years I worked on a yearly contract and spent many a December fantasising about it not being renewed so I could be free to just be creative (though the little matter of earning a living didn’t enter into these fantasies.)
This time last year, after going through a severe burn out, I made the decision to take what I called a sabbatical from my day job. (In reality, I resigned from my contract). At last, I could experiment with a writing life and see what could come of it.
But I haven’t written as much as I thought I would. I started off with very grand plans but soon realised that having been so mentally burnt, I needed to give myself time to rest. I worked on the second draft of my latest novel just an hour or two a day, I didn’t do any other writing and it’s been a joy not to work at the weekends.
I got covid at the end of August and then suffered three months of post-viral fatigue. Once again, I needed to let myself recuperate and work at plod pace rather than push myself to be more dynamic. It’s only now that I’m starting to pick up the frequency.
Being time constrained makes you write more efficiently
At the beginning of my sabbatical, editing the first few chapters of my manuscript went well and it was enjoyable to see it come together as a more polished piece of work. Three months in, I reached a difficult point in the novel and spent more time being stuck than actually doing any writing.
When you have a day job and your writing is shoved into the crevices of your day, the ‘stuck’ time is when you’re doing other activities. Maybe you have an a-ha moment while you’re buying your lunch or maybe an argument between colleagues in your weekly team meeting gives you an idea for the motivation behind one of your character’s actions.
When these ideas struck, I used to send myself a very brief email with the details. Then, at my next writing session, everything flowed again as I explored those light-bulb moments.
But when you are free to write all day, that ‘stuck’ time is time sat in front of your computer achieving nothing (though I did get to level 25 on Microsoft Solitaire!).
I realised that only being able to write for a small portion of the day was more efficient than having great swathes of time.
Quit the fantasy
When we are not living as we would love to, we create a fantasy of how wonderful our writing life would be if only we didn’t have to do ‘this’. It is so easy to blame other factors when we don’t or can’t achieve our dearly held dreams.
I have discovered during my sabbatical that the only thing stopping me from writing is me. There are so many things that I promised myself I would do if only I had the time. But I’ve had the time and I haven’t done them.
If you are thinking of taking a break from your job to write more, I’m not saying don’t do it. How can I? I’m sitting here, right now, without a day job.
But I am saying, even though you would have more time and energy, you might not write as much as you though you would.
Have there been times when you thought you’d write more, but you didn’t? What’s your top tip for finding time and energy to write?
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