Posts Tagged ‘work’

Writing Around Life: Work/School/Kids

Here we run into the ultimate combination–work, school, and children.

(This is also our last official post in the writing around life series. If you think I should add anything, or you have any comments, please let me know!)

Now, this can be intense, but isn’t necessarily. As we discussed in previous sections, you’re probably not full time on work AND school AND kids. Most people are full time on one and part time on the other two. For example:

  • Person A works a full-time job, 40 hours a week. They’re also taking a continuing education course and have two small children at home.
  • Person B stays home with the kids. When they can, they do freelance or contract work from home, and they’re also taking a MOOC course (massive open online course) to see if they’d like a certain career.
  • Person C attends university working toward their bachelor’s degree. They also pick up a few hours a week at a coffee shop, and spends time with their older kids when they’re not in school.

There’s infinite combinations of this, but most people fall into one of the above categories. You are primarily a worker, a student, or a parent. That’s not to say you’re not also the other things, but that one category takes up most of your time.

There are a couple ways to fit writing in around your busy schedule, and they’re primarily things we’ve talked about in the individual work, school, and children sections. Ideally, you can carve writing time in or around your main responsibility, leaving you time to complete your secondary ones. If you work full time, you shouldn’t be sacrificing school or time with your kids for writing.

So, running with the working full time example, if you can get your writing done during your commute and/or your lunch break, then you’re free when you get home to focus on other things. Likewise, if you write during short breaks at school, then you can help the kids with homework when you get home and work after they go to bed. And if you can write while the kids are doing their homework or while they’re napping, then you’re free to work or do your class once your spouse or other child care arrives.

And remember–if you’re too tired to write right now, don’t beat yourself up about it. Yes, you can make time for writing. It’s not impossible. But if it’s not working now, give it a break. Situations change. Classes end. Kids get older. It’s all right to take care of yourself.

Be realistic about the time you have available. Realize that even a little writing adds up over time.

Thoughts about writing around everything, squiders?

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Writing Around Life: Work/Kids

Like some of the previous combination sections, squiders, we’re going to divide this into work part-time/kids and work full-time/kids. We’re also going to assume you have childcare worked out, whether a family member is watching the children or they attend daycare.

WARNING: Remember, check regulations and make sure all your work is done before attempting to write during work hours or using work resources.

Part-time work

The problem with part-time work is that it may not always be on a reliable schedule. You may work Tuesday/Thursday/Friday one week and Monday/Wednesday/Saturday the next, or find yourself switching between day time and evening shifts. This can make it hard to reliably schedule in writing, so you might need to find time as you can, or schedule a week at a time.

Several of the techniques we’ve discussed before also work here:

  • Work when your kids work
  • Use your commute (if you have one/use public transportation)
  • Ask the babysitter/daycare if they can keep the kids a little longer (if financially viable)
  • Try to have a night off once a week for writing
  • Work while they sleep

Full-time work

If you work 40+ hours a week, you probably don’t have a lot of time with your kids, so it can be hard to prioritize something that takes you further away from family time. Plus you may have a spouse to maintain a relationship with, or a house to keep up. So how do you stuff writing in?

This can be a good time to look at your writing goals. Do you want to eventually quit your day job and write full time? Do you want something to share with your kids? Is writing something you do for fun?

Once you’ve established what you want out of your writing, it can be good to break your goal down into steps. If you want to release self-published novels every few months, you’re obvious going to have to write more/faster than someone who has a single novel or memoir in them that is less concerned on speed.

And once you’ve broken your goal into steps and determined a vague schedule, you can begin to see how much time you need in a week. (I like to work in weeks at a go; others work in months or even years. Up to you.)

Depending on your goals, maybe you set aside a few hours every Saturday morning to work. You get some work done, and then the kids are up and you can do things with the family. Or, depending on how much energy you have, what your spouse (if you have one) is up to, etc., you can try writing for an hour or so after the kids go to bed.

Remember that you might have built-in time at or around work that you can use as well, such as your commute (if you take public transportation) or your lunch break.

Anything to add about working, having kids, and writing, squiders? We’re almost done. Next week we tackle the ultimate work/school/kids combo.

Writing Around Life: Work/School (Full-time/Part-time)

We’re continuing our work/school combo this week, squiders. This week we’re looking at fitting writing time in when you’re working full-time and going to school part-time, or if you’re going to school full-time and working part-time.

We’re not going to talk about working full-time and going to school full-time. If you’re doing that, first of all, wow, good on you. That’s a major commitment. But second of all, your free time is probably few and far between. Trying to fit in regular writing on top of that may not be possible at this point in time and that’s okay. You may still have writing time–maybe you do have regular blocks of time that you’re otherwise not using, or maybe you have the opportunity to write here or there–but sometimes it’s fine to realize you have other goals at the moment and it may not be feasible to add on additional goals.

Now, back to our full-time/part-time combo. Full time in this case means 40+ hours of work or 12+ credit hours of school, and part-time is less than 30 hours or work or less than 12 credit hours.

The first thing to do is to realistically look at your time. It is possible to write on a regular or even daily basis with a full-time/part-time combo–I’ve done it myself–but that doesn’t always mean it’s the best thing to try and do. Spend a week or so paying attention to how you spend your time. When do you feel like you have the most creative energy? Does it conflict with something else? Do you have blocks of time that easily lend themselves to writing? Or are you stressed all the time, rushing from place to place?

If you feel like you don’t have enough time to get everything done, do not add in something else. I cannot stress this enough. It’s not worth your mental health to run yourself ragged. School is finite; you will not be in it forever. Some semesters/quarters will be harder than others, and if you do want to add in a writing habit and are having issues, it may help to change up your schedule, such as taking fewer classes at a time.

Scheduling is going to be your friend here. Try to get your schedule as regular as possible. Most people go to their full-time position during the day and do the part-time one in the evening, but depending on your personal schedule, you’ll probably have some time between the two or after the evening activity. This is probably your best bet for fitting writing in. It’s not necessary to write every day; you may find that days you do homework you don’t have enough brain left over for writing, for example. And your schedule will probably change each semester unless you’re taking courses online.

(NOTE: If you are taking one or more online courses, you may have more leeway in your schedule since many of them allow you to watch lectures and complete work at your own discretion. There are still due dates for classwork and group projects, but these are often assigned a week or a month at a time, which allows you to spread out the work or do it all at once as best fits your personal working pattern.)

Aside from that, you can still use some of the techniques we discussed in the work and school sections. Some of them may be more limited because of the increased amount of responsibilities, but it won’t hurt to try them out and see if you can make them work.

If you do find yourself with a regular block of time, I recommend consistency of some sort. Personally, I like to work either with a set amount of time (say, an hour) or a goal of a certain amount of words. Consistency helps build habits, which can help you continue to make progress even if your first inclination may be to veg out on the couch after a long day.

What do you think, squiders? Anything to add?