So for the past few months my job has been to write posts for GunUp: The Magazine: The Blog, and one article a month for GunUp’s print magazine. This job also coincided with me becoming the primary daytime caretaker of my kids. Balancing these has been a bit of an adventure, and here’s some of the strategies that have worked out for me.
First, keep a real person schedule. It’s tempting to revert back to college life and sleep when I’m tired, eat when I’m hungry and work in between, but I find that I’m far more productive when I approach the day like an adult with responsibilities.
When I get up, I have a shower, shave, put on real clothes and eat a real breakfast (something that requires some level of preparation and cooking, not just gnawing on a slab of cold leftovers) before plonking down in front of the computer and getting creative, I find it’s far easier to maintain focus and not slip into the mind-off, slouch ‘n scroll zombie behavior that doesn’t make me money.
While my family always comes first, it’s been easier to work knowing that my family understands that this is a real job that requires real time and concentration from time to time. I’m always there and available for them, but they also know that I need to work in order to be there for them.
That said, you should get in the habit of writing when your schedule allows it, not setting your schedule by when you write. Don’t get caught in the trap of telling yourself that you need absolute silence and solitude or other environmental conditions to be perfect in order to write. If you use external factors as excuses, you’re really just admitting that you’re not going to write and you’re looking for something else to blame. Issac Asimov did some of his best writing fifteen minutes at a time when he worked as a clerk.
Above all, I think what’s made this work for me is quite literally to treat this like a real job. If you don’t take your work seriously, why should the people cutting your checks take it seriously either? Like famed philosopher Highway once said, if you start acting like a semi-professional writer, you’ll start to feel like a semi-professional writer, and then you’ll be a semi-professional writer.