September 13, 2010
Writing is a lonely job. I’m updating my resume to reflect recent jobs and see that, in most cases, I rarely have to interact with others. Even my current job, filled with phone calls galore, usually finds me sitting alone as I work on something. My job at the university allowed me to interact with people on a daily basis, but a full-time writer doesn’t have that luxury.
Our jobs demand focus and attention.
We are keyboard monkeys.
How do you develop the discipline needed to sit and work with nothing and no one reminded you that you have a deadline?
Personally, I find that looking at your bank account once in a while is a good push to write faster and finish on time without checking Facebook. It’s depressing, yes, but it gets the job. Think of it as a financial splash of cold water to the privates. As much as some people think that “writing” isn’t a job, that you can get any intern to do it for you, it’s a difficult profession. And yes, we deserve to be paid more than minimum wage for the right services.
Another motivator is music. I like to keep a good mix of various genres and artists on as I type. When I start getting used to punk cabaret, the playlist switches to classic rock. At least for me, the noise helps me focus. I may not be singing along since it would make typing difficult as I sing one thing and write another, but the combination of different types of music keeps me alert since I don’t get accustomed to it. That’s also why I try not to listen to the same playlist too much, or I put it on shuffle.
As weird as it sounds, just continually telling yourself to write one more sentence, go through one more page of edits, or do one more anything, helps. Say it out loud. Actually say, “Come on. You can do one more.”
Hearing your voice, or any voice, is a powerful motivator. It’s even a reminder that you’re not a robot. I’ve gone some days without saying anything until the evening. No phone calls. Didn’t see anyone. No reason to talk. Speaking felt and sounded weird, like I’d just woken up.
It’s easy to get lost in the work. It’s even easier to forgot you’re a person.
And I’m not trying to be poetic here. I’m serious. If you’re underpaid, isolated, or writing something micromanaged by your boss, you really do feel like an office tool. The isolation is the one you can control, though. Keep things interesting. Use music. Go outside. Meet friends for lunch. If you can interact with others do it.
The deadline’s not going anywhere.
Now let’s distract ourselves with some links…
- I likes me some alcohol, but I’d be hesitant to try a few of these liquors from around the world.
- Apparently, the best way to get people to stop is to make them think they’re about to run someone over. A speed bump designed to simulate this is creating some chatter on the web.
- Thinking of redecorating the house or office? May I suggest this lovely fountain of blood?
- No one expects children to draw masterpieces. However, if a talented artist took children’s drawings and re-drew them, you’d have some creepy, asymmetric wonders. And look! Someone did just that!
- And finally, a tribute to all the geeky girls out there, many of whom are reading this. Thanks, girls