It has been a little under a month since I started to write full time. Or, more accurately, have attempted to write full time. Writing is a very thought-intensive job and after spending what felt like a lifetime of my brain slowly turning into mush, going back to a job where I had enough knowledge to sit down in the morning and keep working until I died has been a difficult adjustment.
I don’t say this to whine. I only want to represent this transition accurately. After all, that was the whole point of this blog.
Other things I’ve noticed are feeling like I have no idea what I’m doing, feeling like I’m not getting anything done, and the overwhelming feeling of calm when I remember what life used to be like.
No idea what I’m doing
I chose an awkward time to quit my day job. Just a week and three days before NaNoWriMo started gave me enough time to sit down, start to plan, and then realize that my next month was already spoken for: write 50,000 words for a novel. You can see this in my retrospective, too. The goal is to write the words. That’s it.
But for that first week, I tried to come up with a schedule for my day. These hours I would write my novel. Those hours I would write blog posts or short stories or edit one or the other. I tried to slip in an hour or two of interaction with the community or time to get my marketing strategy together. It felt official, but honestly none of it really sat right. I tried to put this schedule into practice, but it fell apart in about two hours.
It was the exhaustion mostly. But I also just didn’t really know exactly how I need to work yet. I based it off of what Stephen King wrote in his book On Writing and so it makes sense that it failed. It isn’t for me.
So I’ve been researching, trying to see what other writers do all day. I don’t think I’ll have the brain power to try most of the methods until NaNo is over, though.
Not getting anything done
Again the exhaustion has a big hand in this. I’ll sit down and write for about four hours (staring into space for about two or three of them) and then have to take a nap. Then I realize I’m hungry. Or I realize I hadn’t showered yet today (or for a few days). Then I go do all those things and realize it’s time to start on dinner.
For that first week before NaNo, I also took a look at all the other things I wanted to accomplish. The social media stuff I wanted to prepare, the educational content I wanted to watch or read, the contest I wanted to participate in, the personal essays I wanted to write for Medium, the business plan I wanted to write up for myself…the list goes on. There are so many tasks I want to do and it feels like there’s not enough time to do them.
However: I don’t despair. I plan.
Once NaNoWriMo is over, I will be crafting my future. Five years, one year, one quarter, one month, one week, and then keeping up with a daily plan. I already set goals for myself on a yearly/monthly/weekly/daily basis, but this will be a more structured way of looking at it, or a more detailed way to plan for a loose schedule – we’ll see. Either way, I will organize the fuck out of this problem, and hopefully that will work.
That overwhelming calm
I am one of those people who watch ASMR videos before I go to sleep at night. I had one that I absolutely loved, but she had a very distinct accent – one that matched my boss’s accent. It was fine for a little while, but eventually he started to pile more and more stress on me and it got to the point where just hearing his voice made me go into panic mode. This bled over into those ASMR videos, and I had to stop watching them. After I quit, I feel like those videos calmed me all the more. I would hear that accent, start to go into panic mode, and then remember that I will never have to answer to that man again.
Another interesting thing: everyone likes to say “never make a hobby your job because then you don’t have any hobbies,” but I have had a different experience so far. I felt a pressure every morning to get up before work and write. On the weekends, I needed to write. On the holidays, on my vacation time, on my sick days, I needed to write write write. Every spare moment I had, I needed to work toward my lifelong goal of being a writer. That meant I was working two jobs, essentially. When I took a day off I felt guilty, like I was throwing away a dream, so I could never truly relax. There was always something that I could be doing to get the fuck away from my office job.
But then I quit the office job. Writing is my full time gig now. I’m not making money yet, so there’s some pressure to produce something to get me there, but I also have 40 hours a week to do that in, instead of like 15 (if I wanted to retain my sanity). I can take real lunch breaks now. I can sleep in. That also means I can go on a weekend trip (whenever the world decides to stop ending) and not feel like I have to bring my work with me in order to squeeze a few more words out.
Yeah, I need to find another hobby, but I had like six of them lined up that I felt bad never pursuing anyway, so I can just go down the list.
I don’t have to choose between writing and bathing. Or writing and exercising. Or writing and taking the time to cook a healthy meal for me and my spouse. I can do all of these things and more now. I’m finally free.
There will come a time where I will have a LOT of work to do (hopefully), but for now it’s calm. And when I do get that work, it will be mine. I’ll get to choose what I do and who I do it for and how long I take to do it. That will be my prerogative, and I’m okay with that.