One of the things I have been struggling with of late is the work/write balance. My overall goal, as I guess it is for all writers and creative types, is to make enough money from my creative pursuit to be able to do it full time. At the moment, I am working part-time in a fantastic small accounting practice with bosses and colleagues who understand that accounting, alas, is not my first love. (Cue the collective intake of breath from accountants everywhere).
I am therefore very lucky that they allow me lee-way to work 3-4 days a week, depending on the tax “season” and overall workload, although I know that the offer to work full time is always available. I am also lucky enough to have a supportive wife who earns enough for me to not have to work full time, even though we are spending money hand-over-fist on renovating our first house.
I struggle with this at the moment because I feel like I am not able to give 100% to either pursuit, and feel like I am splitting myself in two – while I am at work, I am thinking about writing, and while I am researching or writing, I am thinking about work. It’s a delicate balance, and one that Joanna Penn from The Creative Penn talks about on her blog – Writing and the Mixed Blessing of a Day Job. (Fantastic site – I visit it weekly for inspiration and tips).
In it she lists the upsides to having a “real” job. This post really got me thinking about how much I need to re-evaluate my feelings about my own day job. I guess the pros and cons depend on who you are and how you write. I tend to write in mad flourishes, and spend most of my other writing time either plotting or researching – often working on more than one idea, which amuses my by-the-numbers, oh-so-organised wife no end. She makes lists (oh does she make lists!) and follows them, mostly top to bottom. Sometimes she makes lists for me to do on my day off. I look at them, and cross of the stuff I don’t want to do rather than the stuff I’ve actually done. Defeats the point, I know, but I view lists as more of a suggestion box for things that I may or may not get around to. Which brings me back to my day job. I utilise lists there too – though I tend to “snooze” most of them for days on end until Outlook pokes me in the eye and yells “Just do the damn job already!” Or our fantastic admin staff threaten to tie me to my chair until I get my jobs done.
I’ve been lucky over the last 3 months or so that it’s been relatively quiet at work – out of tax season and further ahead of our work than we thought we’d be, so I was able to drop back to 3 days a week and spend an extra day at home. While I have managed to get a lot of work done, mostly on plotting and charcterisation (I am trying desperately to be more organised before I write so I don’t stop-start so much), I have still suffered from writus interruptus thanks to rebuilding our kitchen from the ground up and having to be available at any time of the day for tradesmen to traipse through the house to do their thing.
The ironic thing about all of this is the more I can’t write, the more I want to. This is the attitude I am hoping to carry over through the impending tax season. This week is my first week back to four days a week, and that will continue for the foreseeable future – at least until after Christmas, depending on my work load (and the generosity of my bosses). In one of my earlier posts, I cited my day job as a big obstacle to my goal of completing NaNoWriMo for the first time this year. And that’s mostly because tax isn’t something you can switch off from after 5pm like some other professions. I’m hoping to come up with some way to switch modes from tax to writing after 5pm – alcohol maybe, but I’m open to suggestions.
In honour of going back to my day job four days a week, the top four Best Things About My Day Job are:
- Morning tea time – The 20(-ish) minute social interaction when we all stop work for coffee and to ponder over what everyone brought to snack on. This is especially interesting because of one of our accountant’s reactions to any type of food he has not seen before. And sometimes, someone will bring in biscuits or cakes to share. What’s not to love?
- Getting paid – Writing does not pay my bills, and just so that burden is not left completely up to my wife, the dollars in the bank are much-appreciated. Though the way we’re going with our renovating budget, I may have to take that extra day at work as well as a second job.
- Political/climate change/conspiracy theory/football discussions – Yes, Mark, I’m talking about you! Love these discussions, honestly. They get me out of my funk and away from having to deal with painful clients and/or accounts for at least an hour. And last but not least…..
- The Charity Chocolate Box – Chocolates at my fingertips. They are way too tempting to be totally honest, and I should really try harder to resist, but hey. Who can resist the call of chocolate to cure that three-thirty-itis? Not I!
So as you can see, I do appreciate my day job. And yes, the people I work with are great too. And I know they won’t take offence when I say that no matter how much I like that working with tax pays my bills, I would still much rather be writing!