Real Work

I'm so good at this.

I’m so good at this. It should be my job.

I decided to set a test for myself: if I were to treat writing as my Real Job, could I actually manage to sit and do it from nine in the morning until five in the evening? (With a break for lunch, of course). The only way to find out was to try it, so I decided that today was to be the day: by nine in the morning I would be at my computer and I would make an effort to stay focused on writing until lunchtime, then I would take an hour break, and see if I could continue writing until five in the evening.

Accomplishing this, would mean starting earlier than nine in the morning. Traditionally, the reason why I tend to put off the things that I actually want to do (that I perceive as “play”, like writing) is because I prioritize other tasks that I perceive as work. Work comes before play, ergo (Latin!) my day tends to consist of an endless parade of useful tasks while writing gets sidetracked into the fleeting hours of “free time”.  Even though I planned to re-define writing as “work”, there were still a number of tasks that needed attention in a timely manner: applying for another house rental, for instance, or job hunting.

The job hunting issue was serendipitous solved by a call from the temp agency asking if I was free to work four days later in the week. I was. I took it. It is a receptionist position for a business management and payroll company, but I am ready to work. I’m also more than a little bit intimidated: what if I can’t figure out how to work the phones? What if I get off on the wrong foot? What if I can’t find it or I’m late? What if? What if? What if? I’m trying not to dwell on it too much: it is just for four days. I can handle four days.

So at least I was guilt free on the job front for the day. And there’s nothing like having a schedule full of obligations to force the creative juices to flow. I was told once that the reason that creativity seems to spike just before, say, exam week or any other major deadline, is as an avoidance technique to the stress of performing. Instead of focusing on studying, which is stressful, the brain finds excuses to think about other things: too tired, better take a nap; too hungry, better get a snack; too dull, better write that Great American Novel.

Well, avoidance technique or not, it seemed to do the trick. With the exception of lunch, (which ran long since I was trying to arrange a meeting with someone who was purchasing a set of knives from us on Letgo and who got caught in traffic) I was very diligent about staying focused on my writing. And it turns out that the trick to writing for long periods of time is to focus on something you’ve already written, as I spent a large portion of the time transcribing text that I’d written out by hand and then expanding upon it. (I’m good at starting scenes, but not good at ending them. This gave me a good long running start before I had to write anything original and gave me a specific task to focus on: end this scene.)

So all in all it was a productive day.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on July 25, 2016.

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