Charles Hiebner has worked as a pig farmer, a long-haul truck driver, and a warehouse manager for a roofing supply company. The two of us met in grad school where we took a few writing classes together and shared a cubicle wall as interns at the university press. His writing projects have included a page-turning crime novel and a thesis about ecoconsciousness and colonial identity on the Great Plains—both at the same time. His next project is to set up a blog to share his work with the world…maybe sometime before his youngest leaves for college.
I’m a writer with a day job, one that I actually enjoy a great deal. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to earn my bread with writing, but until that time I have bills to pay. There are other parts of my life that pull me away from the writing desk, like being married. Luckily, my spouse has a day job as well, and writes, and is very patient, encouraging, and understanding of time that I request to write. So, what’s keeping me from cranking out novel after novel?
Well, there are these kids… Continue reading
Those who know me best know that I’ve been using the same blue medium-sized Bic pens since high school, even though Bic redesigned this particular model six or so years ago. (When I saw that the originals were getting harder to find I bought eight boxes of them from a reseller in South Korea and I’ve been using them ever since. Don’t ask me what I’m going to do when I run out, because I’m honest to God not sure.)
From a practical standpoint, I prefer writing in blue because it forms a clearer contrast against black printed text, especially when I’m revising a draft by hand. I also like that the cap on these pens comes off without sticking and that Continue reading
I think a lot about deadlines, and how they force us to prioritize how we structure our time.
For example, after I moved into my new place the good folks over at Comcast saw fit to send me a bill with a July 27th due date:
Also, six pages? Really?
There was nothing wrong with this per se, aside from Comcast sending it a week after the July 2nd billing date so neatly printed in the corner, which means that by the time the bill got to me and I finally opened it, I had about a week and a half left before it was due. Simple, right?
So back in March I wrote about how checking my e-mail too often was getting in the way of my productivity, both by sucking WAY too much time away from other things and by causing a loss of focus that pulled me away from where I was, kind of like Shelly Duvall does to Jack Nicholson in this scene from The Shining.
Losing my focus led to EVEN MORE time lost because losing my focus made my mind cloudier, which not only made it more difficult to work, but also made that same amount of work take longer. (There’s some other stuff in the post too, but that’s the basic gist.)
For those of you who missed last’s week’s Life Update, I totally got a new Day Job to replace my old Secret Work-From-Home one, so what follows will make way more sense if you check that out first. (TLDR Version: My new job’s in an office doing a writing/editing-type activity, the conditions make it ideal for keeping up with my novel, this blog, and other creative projects, and to lessen my commute I moved to a new apartment a mere 3.6 miles from the new job.)
Now that we’re all on the same page, some of you might be wondering Continue reading
Thinking about how you’re going to spend your creative time before you start working has felt so obvious to me for such a long time that I never even thought to write about it. That all changed when I was emailing with a programmer friend of mine who’s got a lot on his plate life-wise, and he wanted to share a new method he’s been trying to make better use of his time:
I’m thinking it might be better to work in 30 minute chunks on code projects because that might be all I can handle right now. It doesn’t seem like enough time to really do anything but it works a lot better if I Continue reading
My name is Ian, and I’m addicted to reading news on the internet.
Every so often I step back and try to identify the bad habit or activity that’s sucking up the largest portion of my time. Past culprits have included:
So this week’s topic might seem obvious, but it’s also so important that I can’t possibly let this blog go any longer without talking about it. That’s because I’ve found that sorting creative time into the right place on your schedule can make all the difference between fist-clenching frustration and sweet sweet productivity.
Here’s a few things to consider when thinking about your ideal creative work schedule:
Jack Hill is hands-down one of the most productive people I’ve ever met and a Day Job veteran who’s worked a bigger variety of jobs than even I have. The two of us spent a lot of time in grad school trying to make sense of how the writing life worked in the 21st century. Check out his website or follow him on Twitter @xjackhill. Continue reading
I used to check my e-mail once, sometimes twice a day, usually after work or at the very end of the night. (I know this is starting out all lame and nostalgic, but bear with me….) I’d respond to anything that was important, then wait a few days for things that weren’t. My back and forth conversations were usually separated by a day or longer, Continue reading
Staying focused is important—and hard. My biggest faults in this area are procrastinating, getting distracted during worktime, and taking on too much and getting overwhelmed (especially when I’m supposed to be writing). Case in point: I probably should have started this entry an hour ago.
As I’ve talked about before, structured Day Jobs make it easier to get things done because they provide goals, timelines, Continue reading
(Naturally, I’ve got my phone on silent while I’m writing this.)
I’m like you: when I hear my phone make noise, I absolutely have to go find out what that noise means, not necessarily because it’s urgent, but to satisfy the deep, immediate, and all-encompassing sense of curiosity that stops me from thinking of anything else. Continue reading