Blog Post #40
Greetings, People of the Internet. Today I want to talk to about keeping on top of life goals, spending enough money to make you want to die inside, and word counts. Maybe make yourself a cup of tea and turn up some MCR first?
For some odd reason, the fates alined, and I was granted freedom from both the day jobs on Tuesday. Yay! So, as I usually do on the very rare occasion that I have such a day, I decided that day would be a writing day, but it brought up a rather important question.
What does the day of a real writer consist of, officially? I honestly don’t know. I’m so used to the daily grind of alarm-work-feed myself-sleep that it never really occurred to me what I would do during a scheduled day as a full time writer.
I know other famous writers have routines that they do to help keep themselves on track with their writer lives. I know some throw themselves at the kitchen table and do not leave until they hit their required 3 page minimum. Some have a dedicated writing cave (or basement or attic or shed out in the back yard) that they steal away into to keep real life at bay long enough to get their words down on paper. Others pay for a shared work space that they go to every day after their stop for coffee so they can have the usual work day routine and writing in a place with an office space feel.
So I decided Tuesday would be about me trying to figure out my day would look like for my writing life and responsibilities when I am finally able to make that shift. After reading about other writer habits, I sort of know what I want to do when I get to have my own, and I used those ideas as my jumping off point. So here’s a look at my trial full time writer day.
6:27 a.m. – Wake up.
I know that sounds super early, but I didn’t set an alarm. Six something is actually like sleeping in for me since the earliest of my alarms is set for 4:45 in the morning. Besides, the sky was already getting light, and I am one of those people that if they even see the tiniest bit of sunlight they can’t go back to sleep properly. Ugh.
6:55 a.m. – Gym
Yeah, that sounds like an incredibly fast turn around, but I conveniently, and yet unintentionally, chose gym clothes to sleep in the night before. Nothing beats literally rolling out of bed and going directly to the gym before your brain can fully understand what you are doing and tell you not to do that. By the time that 49 degrees outside temp finally woke me up, I always already at the door to the gym and there was no going back. On the plus side of going early, you get the place to yourself. No one will be there to give you strange looks for blaring MCR’s The Black Parade before 7 a.m.
8:45 (ish) – Chill
Okay, I obviously showered, but I needed time to just be still for a bit. So I sat outside on the deck since it was colder outside at the end of June than it was in my apartment (which is never colder than 75 degrees except for the dead of winter when I cannot afford my preferred temperatures). I propped up my feet and watched some Youtube for a bit.
10:30 a.m. – Breakfast
Technically, I started working on breakfast before 10:30, but 10:30 is when I finally got to sit down and enjoy it. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, but working early shifts forever means I don’t usually get to go all out the way I enjoy. Not only did my body need to refuel post work out, but I need something to run on during a writing day. Making words happen, only happens when I’m fed. Of course I made a full breakfast with fried eggs, toast with blueberry spread, vegetarian sausage patties, a bowl of watermelon, and an entire pot of tea. No one can’t stop this sort of breakfast habit because breakfast is truly the best meal of the day.
1:15 p.m. – Panic Attack
Okay, so do you remember in my last post how I mentioned the my immediate next step in following my writerly life plan goals was finally getting my new computer? Well, in the weeks up to and directly following that post, I have been combing through the entirety of the great and mighty Internet to determine the best laptop for my needs and life goals and what have you. The results left me shook, and while I still hold my preconceived notions about some things, I am intelligent enough to recognize that even if it means doing things differently, I need to set aside my discomfort in order to prepare myself for the future that I want to have.
My future came with a very uncomfortable, adulting-sized number attached ($$$$) that I can relate to as an uncomfortably large percentage of my remaining student loans. But even if said laptop is not going to arrive before the end of the month, I’ve still made the purchase before the end of the month, which means I met my goal…right? Right?
This was probably one of the hardest parts of the day. The laptop is for life goals and business-y type things, and that makes it okay to spend that much money. I’m not freaking out over the numbers or anything. Or at least, that’s what I kept telling myself for all the hours between breakfast when I started making last minutes searches and the moment I submitted payment.
And you know, as I’ve been working toward becoming a full time writer, I’ve begun to learn that there is a difference between a dream and a goal. When you have a dream there aren’t steps and actions involved. It’s a long distance idea out on the horizon, hazy and indistinct.
When you have a goal, there are steps you can take, actions to bring your forwards, items to cross off lists. Even if these things make you uncomfortable, you can work on them and work past them. You just have to keep reminding yourself of why you are doing this, that what you are trying to achieve is worth the set backs and the discomfort and the heartaches. Because only you can work on your goal to hold your dreams in your hands.
1:30 p.m. – Word Counts
Did you really think I’d let this post get published without mentioning the word counts? There’s no escaping the word counts. Ever. At least until I’m living a writing life where I know I can count on myself to hit my word count goals without watching myself like a hawk.
At that particular moment, when the anxiety of dropping so much money began to subside, I realized it had been two weeks since my last post. Which meant I needed to hit the key board asap. So I opened up a new document and started typing this post that you’re currently reading. Since, you know, I need to keep on a regular posting schedule to keep with my full time writer goals. This step continues to be the most impossible thing in my life.
Sorry, dreams. I’ll keep trying.
3:30 p.m. – Snack Break
Writing without fuel is a difficult thing to do. Just wanted to throw this in here as a reminder that if you are an aspiring creative person trying to make a business day for your work-at-home job, don’t forget to take breaks. Breaks are important. Just as important as those chocolate covered almonds I was enjoying during my snack break. It’s also good to get some distance between you and project, physically because of eye strain and stretching, but also mentally, because your mind needs refreshing too.
4:30 p.m. – Dinner and a Movie
If I haven’t mentioned it before, you need to know I have awesome friends who recognize that I am actually a taser, but for moody writers. Most Tuesdays we all go get dinner together and then go see the latest movie because while most people know Tuesdays for tacos, we know Tuesdays as “Thrifty Ticket Tuesdays”. $6 is the best price for the movie theater experience.
Since Jessica B is unavailable this week, Snow and I were on our own. So I got to introduce Snow to her first meal at Penn Station. I don’t care if you don’t like their subs, their fries are glorious as is their lemonade. She needed those potatoes in her life.
Going to the movies is great, but it is also terrible. I can’t watch movies just to enjoy them much any more. I need to analyze the plot, the dialogue, the pacing. Talking about it with other people who trying to break it down the same helps kept my analysis skills sharp.
Besides, I can’t live my life like a hermit, can I? I need some socialization, or I’m going to become more hopelessly inept at talking to strangers in person than I already am. Does that mean that Snow and I spent a good twenty minutes post an insanely long Transformers movie to talk about it? Yes, we did.
10 p.m. (ish) – Writing Again
At this time in the night I was back home and winding down with some writing to wear my brain out that last little bit before I lay me to sleep for the night. I ended up writing a total of 1,617 words on outlining that day. Yes, I know I have too many outlines going, but this one, this story is one of the big ones that has bothered me for a while.
How much does it bother me? Well, this is my third attempt at an outline for it, and this version has a unique story telling method that I want to try, that I think fits better with the kind of story I want to tell, you know, if the story itself would stop shifting so much. I mean, I’ve attempted the story as a sort of present day thing as it was originally presented to my sleeping brain.
This new version is more Early Medieval period. I think having it set in that period will add a bit more complication to the story, considering my main will probably end up being a female running around dressed as a man in order to taken seriously.
The work in progress title is “The Only Hope for Me Is You”, but I might switch it to “The Kids from Yesterday” or just “Remember Me”. Neither of those are in anyway a final title since ripping titles directly from My Chemical Romance lyrics would probably not end well for me. But let’s be honest, song lyrics are the only way I know how to name works in progress.
The story though, it is one of my rare ones where I know this won’t be a nice tale, and as such, a lot of the feel of it reminds me of MCR’s Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. I’ll try not to make the final product full of lyrics, but I don’t hold any hope that I’ll live up to that task.
11 p.m. – Sleep
The usual daily grind beckoned me the following day, so my bed time wasn’t really set by me but by the time I need to be at the day job by. However, I do try to be sure that I’m getting enough sleep. My goal is the required 8 hours; my average is 7 hours and 21 minutes this week. (Last week, it was actually 5.5 hours of sleep, so I am improving.)
I get sleep is good for a healthy mind as well as body, but I find it hard to not scroll for at least a good twenty minutes when I should be shutting my brain down for the night.
So that’s it in a nutshell. That’s my attempt at structuring my day when my writer life kicks into full time mode. I think, it might work. Maybe not perfectly. I mean, I could use some more time actually typing instead of freaking out about laptop choices. Then again, once writing becomes my full time gig, maybe I will need that time to make other writer business choices. Who knows?
But looking back at that word count, between this post that I started and the outlining I did, I slammed out about 2,500 words on that day alone without much writing actually being done. Or at least, without it feeling like I did much writing. And if my 200,000 word a year goal breaks down to about 16,700 a month, I nailed about a sixth of my monthly goal in a day.
…I could work for just one week a month on slamming out numbers and still hit my yearly word count goal? …what?
Okay, I’m gonna keep myself from weeping over that life realization and maybe get some more writing done because I’m still short of this month’s goal. I hope you have a fantastic weekend (those of you who work jobs that let you have weekend off) and great 4th of July (if you live in America and enjoy things that go ka-boom)!
Love and Lightning and Lots of Fireworks,
–M. L. Trumbull