Monday, 23 September 2013

Working Nine to Five - The Creative Process

Working 9 to 5

Before I became a writer, I worked a number of different jobs. I worked in a call centre, in a supermarket, as a factory line packer, even in the local Magistrates court. I did a lot of working shifts, as well as lot of just working nine to five (more like eight to four, but you get what I mean). When my life changed (piece here) and I could no longer work a "normal" job, I had to relearn how to work in a sense. My body did not respond the way I wanted it to when I tried to set up a routine and so, along side learning to be retired and unable to work the normal hours, as well as learning to accept being chronically ill, I had to learn how to get the most out of the hours that I could work.

Something I have learnt through one of my university courses was that there are three kinds of people in regards to sleep and productivity. There are the morning Larks, the night Owls and the ones in between. It's actually a science thing, but it's relevant to this piece. When I first got sick with M.E, I had gone from being a morning Lark - always up at 7am, working through to the mid-afternoon before I got into a little bit of a funk - to being the something in-between and sometimes, a night owl. I think you'll find that a lot of people with chronic conditions have this issues where they never know which one of those three they are going to be on any given day.

If you're a morning Lark, you'll find that you are able to wake early, go about your day and rise with the sun. It will probably mean that you work efficiently before the rest of the household has gotten up and about. You'll also probably find that you feel a bit of a drag once midday and the afternoon hits. There are many ways to work through this, but the best one I can think of is that you take advantage of the hours when you are awake and able to work. The beauty of having a job like writing, is generally speaking, you can work when and where you want.

This also applies if you're not awake before nine or even ten in the morning, if you're a night Owl and find that you do your best work as the rest of the world is going to sleep, manage your schedule around it. The fact of the matter is, writing should not be a nine to five job, unless that works for you. If it does, then great, but with more and more writers finding it hard to support themselves solely on the money they make in royalties, the likelihood is that you're going to have to find time in your working life to actually do any writing.

As someone who has been all three types, and continues to be surprised every day by which type I wake up to be, I can honestly say that sometimes it is only an hour here, thirty minutes there and that's okay for me. As you'll have seen from my most recent piece, I have a majority of chronic illnesses that dictate how I write and when. I guess what I am trying to say, is that just because your job dictates when and where you can write, it doesn't mean that you are any less of a writer. Whether you decide to fit in all your writing at the weekend and spend the rest of the week only writing things in your hear. Or if you're someone who makes time early in the morning or late at night to get some work done once the kids and partner are already in bed. Whether you're a single mum on benefits writing in a cafe, or a disabled person writing from bed. None of these things prevent you from saying "I'm a writer".

Enjoy your hours that you can spend creating and down worry about the small stuff like how much time you have to write. Pieces of art take months, sometimes years to create, and a book is just as worthy of that title as any painting or statue. Enjoy what you do, it will show in your work and you never know, that lottery win might be around the corner so that you'll be able to quit the day job and write to your heart's content!

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