Monday, November 19, 2012

Balancing Writing and The EDJ (Evil Day Job)

(This is my first post, and I wanted to wave hello to everyone *waves* I am so happy to be a part of Southern Magic RWA and am looking forward to meeting everyone.)

When most authors start out, they don't write full time. They have a EDJ: Evil Day Job. Stephen King was a teacher. John Grisham was a lawyer. Others, like Dr. Robin Cook, continue pursuing their first career.

I myself am a web developer. I don't really consider my job an evil day job. A geek from way back, I've been in the software industry for almost twenty years. It's a steady paycheck, good benefits. That doesn't mean I wouldn't take the opportunity to write full time. I would. With both hands. Then I'd run away with it like a cat with its tail on fire.

But until that day, I have to figure out how to balance my work life and my writing life. It's not just finding time to write, either.

Finding time to write: Believe it or not, I think that's the easy part. I get up early. Or I stay up late. I write during lunch hours. The hard part is...

Having energy to write: I may get up early and stay up late, but I barely have the energy to string together a sentence some days. I'm also chronically ill (stupid Crohn's!), so that takes a toll as well. Best lesson I've learned? Write lots and lots when you feel well to make up for the days that you don't. But still there's...

Attending author/writing events: You have a full time job, but you want to go to RWA National. What do you do? I hate to say it, but I've stopped taking vacation for anything except author/writing events. I have all the events that require days off in 2013 already on my work calendar. If I end up with a few extra days at the end of the year, my husband and I will take a nice little trip. What I haven't learned to handle is...

Concentrating on work at work: I have a bad habit of mentally running through plot lines when I should be working. This does not help when I'm trying to write some complicated code or a stored procedure from hell. Seriously, how does anyone sandbox those things? Anyone have any hints on wrangling plot bunnies during work hours?

You think King, Grisham, and Cook had these problems?

About Kerry:
Author. Southerner. Geek. Writer of romance, believer in HEA. Positive there's nothing better than shrimp & grits and red velvet cake. Kerry was born and raised in Alabama, and she grew up swearing she was going to get the hell out of Dodge the instant she could. Turns out Dodge ain’t so bad, and she never left. Alabama’s version of a city girl, she married a country boy, and the adorkable couple lives in a small town with their two socially awkward dogs.

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Tessa Conte said...

Great post, Kerry!

I totally get you on the EDJ. Not only do I have one of those, in a fit of insanity I decided to work on my PhD, too. Which means writing time is precious and golden and, well, when it's there, Mr Muse isn't.

*sigh* and probably the odd #headdesk or two.


Naima Simone said...

First, awesome virgin post, Kerry! I agree, balancing a day job and writing--along with life--is like walking a tight rope! What amazes me is how you switch from "geek" mode to "creative author" mode! Do you incorporate knowledge you've acquired from your DJ into your books?

Kerry Freeman said...

@Tessa: Thanks for stopping by! I am amazed at people who can juggle a day job and go to school. And you're writing on top of that! You're a stronger woman than I am, that's for sure :)

@Naima: Thanks! Being a programmer definitely helps in writing when it comes to planning, research and outlining in particular. Your program won't be successful without planning, and neither will your novel. I love to write about geeks, too. So I borrow from my life and the things I see around me.

Oh, and a geek note: make sure to backup regularly! :)

Meda White said...

Great post Kerry. I triple back up daily since my recent trauma. I'm lucky to not have an EDJ at the moment but I still think about my characters and stories when I should be concentrating on other things. Like at the grocery store- what would my characters eat? Driving- what kind of car would they drive? Oops, I missed my exit...

Kerry Freeman said...

@Meda, hope you were able to recover all your data!

I have a 30 minute drive to work, and I spend a lot of time brainstorming while driving. I've come up with quite a few good ideas during my commute.

M.V.Freeman said...

Hi Kerry!
Day jobs. Sigh. They will always muscle in on our writing--but the only thing I know is to write down some of the plot/ideas as they come (maybe at lunch) or a quick note. That's what I do.

And write when you can--a bit here a bit there.

It grows.

That's all the pearly wisdom I have. The rest involve caffeine and adult beverages and that doesn't help one whit. :)

Kerry Freeman said...

@M.V. I'm the Queen of Self-Emailing. I send myself notes via email all the time, so much so that I have a Gmail filter to flag them called "Emails to Myself." :)

M.V.Freeman said...

I like that!

Louisa Cornell said...

Great post, Kerry! I too suffer from a serious case of EVIL DAY JOB! and I work for the Evil Empire - WALMART!!

I completely understand the concept of being so tired when you get home you don't want to even THINK of writing. However, since the last RWA Nationals, my roomie and I have pledged to write ONE PAGE each and every day. We e-mail each other (she lives in Colorado) and report in and harangue each other if we backslide. More often than not once I drag myself through one page I can usually manage to write more and some days that is all it takes to prime the pump and get myself on a roll.

And like you I only use my vacation time for writer events.