Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Write or Socialize?

I am a fairly busy guy. I have a full-time job, a wife, and two kids (one of which is just a baby). I try to maintain some semblance of a social life outside of work, plus I've got a couple hobbies I enjoy doing. Finding time to to write can be a challenge. Monday night was so crazy, that I didn't even turn the computer on, much less write anything. At my current pace, I will be retired before my draft is done. I need to find more time to devote to writing.

Recently, I've discovered a window that I could use, but I'm not sure it's one I can rely on long term. The past few days I've been able to do some writing at work during lunch. It is not a lot of time, but its time nonetheless. I take my notebook down to the cafeteria, and scribble away while I eat. Some days I write more than others. It still amazes me that some days I can hardly wait to get down there to start writing, while on others I literally have to force myself to put pen to paper, all the while mumbling 'I will have to edit this later.' I have to transcribed the writing I do later at home as personal laptops are not allowed in the building, and there is no 'taking lunch at your desk' allowed. Nevertheless, I'm getting more writing done using my lunch break than I was before.

While it may sound as if like I've found my writing nirvana, there's trouble in paradise. For the first six months I worked at this job, I was in an office removed from the major traffic flow. Essentially, I was hidden in a little hole. Not really sure of myself, or this strange new environ I found myself in, I typically stayed in my little hole. It was private in there, and my inner introvert liked it. After I was moved to a more central location, I met someone from one of the other departments. He was a geek like me, and we hit it off pretty quickly. We started having lunch together and appreciated the company. Neither of us had many work friends, so finding each other was a boon.

For the past couple of days, my friend has been out sick, and I've discovered the lunch break provides this beautiful opportunity to get some writing done. Now I must choose between spending my lunch break shooting the breeze with my friend, or spend it writing. If I spend it writing, I will have to explain to my friend what I'm dong, and why I'm not joining him for our usual lunch hour.

I find choice between socializing and writing to be a difficult one, any advice?


Tami said...

Maybe split the difference?

Tell fun work friend that you really enjoy your lunches together - could you maybe only do it on M,W,F so that you could get some writing in on T, Th?

Socialization is too important (especially when it's someone you really like!).

If you think this guy might get on your nerves over time, maybe swap the days and do more writing than socializing at first. ^_^

Arleen said...

Agrees with Tami :)

ThePinkPally said...

I think Tami has a great idea. And who knows, if your work buddy is as much of a geek as the rest of us, he might have his own project to work on at lunch. Or, even better, if he's a secret writer too, you can both work on your writing as you take lunch together and bounce ideas off of each other. Good luck!

Laurie Tom said...

You probably don't know who I am, though I've commented on Honor's Code before under my WoW blogging name.

This may come off a little blunt, and if it does, I apologize for that, but if you want to eventually become a professional writer, you'll need to treat it like a job. That's what being a professional is, and it prevents the not finishing a draft until you retire problem. ;) It means you have to set limits and manage your free time as you would any other job. It means that sometimes you don't get to do things that you want to do for fun.

I'm also a lunch hour writer. It's very convenient for the writer with a day job! I started writing during lunch and you know...? People are generally understanding, perhaps even admiring of that kind of dedication. I haven't lost any friendships over it. I now have a lunch buddy who is an aspiring artist and during lunch hour I write and he draws, so we can spend time being social while also being free to be creative.

We don't expect to have engaging conversation during lunch hour, but we're still hanging out in our own way. If your work buddy has a creative pursuit of his own, see if he can work on it during lunch hour in your company. My coworker and I critique each other and bounce off ideas even though we're working on completely different things.

But on the other hand, there have been times when I have said no to "fun" things because I wanted to write. When I get a three day weekend, I generally don't go anywhere. I was invited to Disneyland one year and turned it down because I would otherwise lose the day off work that I wanted to use for writing. I have occasionally turned down movie nights or other casual get-togethers with friends.

It's perfectly possible to balance both a social life and writing, but you have to figure out where the compromise point is. It will be different for each person.

You also mentioned having a couple other hobbies. Going back to the professional part, if you would not let those hobbies interfere with the day job, don't let them interfere with the writing. If the hobbies take precedence, then the writing is just a hobby too. If your writing is important enough to you that you want to make a go of it, don't let it become just a hobby.

You also might want to check out this blog post by Kevin J. Anderson. He's a master of squeezing in time to write and the other tips on productivity he gives are pretty good.

Ted said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone. You've given me much to think on.