As a fledgling Indie Author, I suffer the same general disregard towards a healthy work/life balance as most of the other idiots who decide that writing thousands of made up words is a good idea. Writers, we tend to label ourselves as. Now, I’m finding that already strained balance put to breaking point.
For the most part, unless you’re Stephen King or one of those mad people who can spin gold from judicious use of Facebook ads, us writers have to go to day jobs – those irksome things that put food on the table, pay the bills, and allow us to interact with real people who don’t just live in our heads.
A few weeks ago, I moved jobs, I moved homes, and I moved circumstances, and I have to say it’s put a right cramp into my writing mojo. For one thing, I’ve gone from having a luxurious office with a massive expanse of oak in the middle of it, to having a bit of room on the kitchen table when there’s no Lego on it.
I’ve gone from working from home and being able to carve out writing time like some kind of mad carver of things, to being forced to find the odd thirty minutes here and there between wanting to spend actual talking time with the rest of my family and having to follow my dog around the green spaces around us with a plastic bag in my hand.
Thankfully, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the battle-wearied support of my family, who are used to getting glared at when they dare to ask me a genuinely important question when I’m trying to hold a whole scene in my head, or when I accidentally hear some noise elsewhere in the house that ruptures my oh-so-delicate train of thought. However, I’ve tested that patience to breaking point over the last few weeks, and I’ve realised that with my changed circumstances, a change in attitude to my writing must come too.
The long and short of it is this – I’ve dramatically shed the amount of time I have to write, at the exact moment I’ve lost anywhere decent to write.
So, after two weeks of this juggling conundrum, here are my top 5 tips for dealing with life changes as a writer, because if 2018 has told us anything it’s that two weeks doing anything makes you automatically enough of an expert to opine about it on the internet.
Don’t write in the same room as a television. I really thought I’d be able to sit at the kitchen table, just behind the sofa, stick some headphones in, and ignore the TV. Turns out, I can’t. The only way to block out the babble of talking is to turn your music up so loud that you won’t be able to hear yourself think anyway. Also, the TV is where the other people in your house tend to talk to each other, and when they say anything at all you’ll find yourself taking your headphones off and saying ‘what?’
Don’t write in bed. Eventually I alighted on the bedroom as the one place I could shut out the world and concentrate on writing, the only problem being that I could only really do that by sitting on the bed. Not only is that terrible for your back (and mine already barely functions as a support mechanism), but your knees just don’t have the stability that a table does. Who would have thunk it?
You’re not the only person who lives in your house so don’t be a dick. After a few days of sulking at everyone for not giving me the room I needed to write, it dawned on me that it’s not really reasonable for three other people and a dog to treat the entirety of their home like a library whenever I happen to get the whim to write. I came to this realisation a lot later than everyone else.
Short bursts are better than nothing. I had gotten used to being able to lock myself away and spend a few hours writing, coming away with a few thousand words and a sense of achievement. Now, I might be able to snatch fifteen minutes here and there, and come away with a handful of paragraphs. Once I realised that THIS IS FINE, I became a lot happier. Adjust your expectations to your reality.
There are other places. Tonight, I’m heading to our local library after work, where I’ll be able to work for at least an hour, and there’s no chance a small child will come and ask my where his Captain Underpants book is just as I’m trying to round off a paragraph. They also apparently now have these things called cafés, where I can apparently enjoy some peace and quiet at the same time as I can enjoy a coffee and possibly even a cake. I can’t see that catching on, so I’ll have to try and use them while the fad still lasts.
So, there you have it. Basically, don’t be an arse to your family because they don’t deserve it, get used to writing differently, and get out of the house a bit more.
If you liked this advice and wish to fund my getting out of the house, you can donate the cost of a cup of coffee to me by going to my ko.fi page. Or you could buy one of my books, because then I’ll know it’s worth me writing more of them.