India Trip Reflections #1: Never Forget What a Break and Time Away Can Do

At the beginning of this month I flew to India for ten days to attend a friend’s wedding and take a much-needed vacation.  It was my first trip abroad in two years, and I spent the time meeting new people, exploring rural Indian villages, experiencing farm life, and trying awesome new dishes made from amazing vegetables and the freshest butter and yogurt I’ve ever had.

Now I’m back, and I feel awesome.

I was pretty stressed out before I left because of too much Secret Office Day Job-related overtime and having a shit ton of things to do in general, but I guess I hadn’t realized Continue reading »

Guest Post – Life vs. Writing: A Balancing Act

Angela D’Onofrio is a writer and artist whose series of novels takes place in the fictitious town of Aviario, Connecticut and contains elements of the fantastic (I reviewed one of her Aviario novels, In the Cards, a few weeks back). I met her through a local writer’s group, where I was struck by her dedication to promoting her projects and keeping an active role in her many, many creative communities.  Check out more of her work here, or follow her on Twitter at @AngDonofrio.

 

Hello, fellow writers with day jobs!  Ian approached me a little while ago and asked if I’d like to write a guest post for his blog.  “Sure,” I said, “but let’s do it after National Novel Writing Month, when I’ll be done writing my fingers off…”

Which brings us to the topic of this post: Life vs. Writing. For the past four years, I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo: a challenge to authors to write the first 50,000 words of a novel draft in a month.  As much as I’d love to be able to tell you that I pummeled my keyboard into submission…alas, Continue reading »

What I Do When I Don’t Feel Like Working

Some days I just don’t have the energy to sit down and do my creative work.  It happens to all of us, and if you hear someone say that they can work every day despite the circumstances than they’re either lying through their teeth or they’ve somehow found the Holy Grail of Creativity that magically allows them to work at 100% peak performance all the time (which doesn’t seem likely).

Everybody reading this knows that feeling: when you come home tired from a long day at work, when you’re worried about bills, your future, or a breakup, or when you wake up on a Sunday too hungover to do much of anything.  In these shittiest of shitty moments, the last thing you want to do is Continue reading »

October Novel Progress Update!

It’s been a busy month, but not for novel-writing.

When I last posted about my progress on my new novel I was getting back into the game after a 3 month hiatus brought on mostly by my new job and recent move.  Taking a break from writing helped me get a lot of stuff taken care of, but after so many weeks away I realized I had to get back to the novel or else I risked becoming even more disconnected from it than I already was—and that wasn’t a good thing. Continue reading »

What Would You Do With an Extra 10 Hours a Week?

Answer: A lot.

I read an amazing article once (which unfortunately I haven’t been able to find again, but here’s a similar one) about how back in the 1900s or so after the Industrial Revolution had changed the way we live, people were optimistic that technology would continue to make our lives more convenient as time went on.  People believed that all these awesome new gas-powered cars and factories would reduce the overall amount of work that needed doing, and that the newly reduced workloads would be passed down to the workers.  Because machines and automation would be doing so much of the work, people Continue reading »

What Happened When I Went to Work on 2 Hours of Sleep

Let’s get one thing straight: I love sleep.

Every day, at least once a day, I think about how great it would be to just lay down and go to sleep, or even just take a quick nap.  On the weekends I try to sleep in at least one day until 9:00 or so (usually on Saturday, since that’s my no-work day) and go to bed early one night so I can get caught up, since sleep debts can have some pretty nasty effects if you’re not careful.  My favorite time to sleep is on cold winter nights, covered in extra blankets, and I sleep a lot better Continue reading »

Guest Post – Writing While Parenting

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 »

Why I’m Not Interested in Early Retirement

In what little spare time I have I follow a few money and finance blogs, which has helped me develop my philosophy about how smart financial decisions can help creative people get where they need to go.  I’ve found a lot of the advice from these blogs to be solidly helpful (make a budget, track your net worth, pay off debt, etc.), but there’s one thing financial bloggers are always talking about that I couldn’t be less interested in: retiring early.

Now just so we’re all on the same page, retiring in the technical sense of the word isn’t about having your hair turn white or moving into an old folks’ home.  On the contrary, Continue reading »

Why Setting Your Own Deadlines is So Damned Hard

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?
Continue reading »

Update: Anti-Email Checking Challenge!

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.)
Continue reading »

Why I Left My Work-From-Home Day Job

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 »