It’s a 5:00 world, at least that is what the popular “Vogues” song from yesteryear (1965) tells us. In 2003, the song was reborn via the movie, “Big Fish”.
Up every morning just to keep a job
I gotta fight my way through the hustling mob
Sounds of the city pounding in my brain
While another day goes down the drain
(Yeah, yeah, yeah) but it's a five o'clock world when the whistle blows
No-one owns a piece of my time
As most writers know, writing hours are made after you complete your day job. You time is also doled out in little snippets while watching your child’s water polo practice, Harp recital, or while boiling pasta for the evening meal.
For those of us who may find writing until 1:00 AM and having the alarm set for 5:00 AM a bit fatiguing. It seems we are keeping good company.
Some of these stories you may be familiar with, others may come as a surprise.
He may be a renowned author of over 50 novels, but Stephen King wasn't always a full-time writer — his time as a high school janitor helped inspire the novel Carrie. King originally threw the first draft of the story in the trash, but his wife Tabitha fished it out and told him to keep going because she wanted to know how it ended.
Before she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee worked as an airline reservations clerk in New York. She eventually quit when her friends helped support her financially so she could finally write full time.
He's a well-known author now, but before Nicholas Sparks wrote The Notebook, he worked odd jobs, including selling dental products over the phone. She was a talented science-fiction writer and awarded the MacArthur Fellowship — but before her success as a writer, Octavia Butler worked as a potato chip inspector. She also worked as a dishwasher and a telemarketer, using these day jobs to support her writing. And they really were day jobs, because Butler would get up at 2 AM. to do her writing before going in to work! Amazing.
She's known as a mystery novelist; Agatha Christie was once an assistant apothecary. She reportedly knew a lot about poisons, which was no doubt helpful as she created the characters of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Just goes to show that you never know what knowledge will come in handy later.
Bram Stoker wrote Dracula while working as the manager of the Lyceum Theater in London, imagining Henry Irving, a famous actor and owner of the theater, playing the vampire himself.
So how about you? What is/was your day job(s)?
Does your day job get your creative ideas flowing?
I work in the field of education, students, staff, and events give me ideas—or at least creative thoughts.
Sometimes, after a long day. It will take me five minutes to write a sentence.
Five minutes of staring into space until the idea of writing an opening line about how long it took me to think of an opening line popped into my head.
In the grand scheme of things, five minutes isn't all that long. But for a writer, five minutes for nine words can add up.
Writing takes time. A whole lot of time.
I always imagined I'd write my first book in a vacation hideaway overlooking the beach or cabin in the Grand Tetons. Unfortunately, most first-time authors won't get to live out this literary fantasy.
In fact, circumstances will most likely be the opposite: writing during off-hours, scribbling notes in public, enjoying less sleep than you'd like and slowly losing your mind while trying to maintain personal relationships a full-time job and run a household.
Say you've finally found a quiet hour to yourself. You know you should write, but you're tired from work and are only on season two of "The Crown..” What were once simple choices become tormenting tests of will power and resolution.
As George Orwell famously stated, “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.”
In his book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft,” Stephen King shared a similar though more concise sentiment: “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
So how do I stay on track to reach my deadline?
I’ve learned to say “no.”
I also participate online instead of driving to Orange County Romance Writers or L.A.R.A. monthly meetings; I sign-up for online classes. I miss interacting with other writers, and my plotting group, but talking isn’t going to write my novel.
This doesn't mean you have to say no to everything, but writing is always going to require compromise.
A large part of writing for me is preparing my environment. I like to have a cup of coffee by my side, music playing. I prefer to write from 8:00 to 11:30 PM every other day. On Fridays I write until 2:00 AM, Saturdays after I the gym and running errands. I’ll write for a few hours, then spend time on other tasks, until about 8:00 PM. Sunday, unless I have a blog post due/or am on a deadline, I do not write. I may edit my weeks work in the evening but that is the extent of my writing. This is family time for me.
Remember: If you keep waiting for the perfect moment, the perfect time, you’ll never get anything done.
Pencil in you time to write on your calendar, or task journal. Honor that time like you do all of your other commitments.
You may find your day job fits in quite nicely into your novel. After all, if you have life experience, no research is needed.
Happy Reading and Writing,
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