Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Get a 'Real' Job

A couple weeks ago I received a letter from the Ministry of Education.  Basically they aren’t renewing my contract for next year- feeling enough French teachers going into the field have been adequately trained to teach English.  They’ll only call me if they have a hole to fill.  (Which is basically what they did this year, and lemme tell you, patching up a hole in this system is complete chaos)

So come this July, I will be unemployed indefinitely and my husband and I decided it’s time for me to get a ‘real’ job.  As in- a full time job instead of part time.  I have no idea what I’ll end up doing.  Large companies get a tax reduction for every unemployment candidate they take on, so it’s possible I'll get recruited doing some kind of translation or bilingual secretarial work.   In any case, it’ll be a 9-5 position with fewer vacation and days off than I’ve had the last three years.

Which leaves me wondering…how the hell am I going to reconcile writing, blogging, and taking care of house’n’home -all while working full time?

When I see what a struggle it is just to keep up with the hours I’m working now, I can’t help fearing next year it will all just fall to the wayside.  If for some reason my newest project gets no interest, will I even have time to continue with the process? 

Could this mean the end of Creepy Query Girl?

Dun dun dun!

Then it hit me.  Ask your blogging friends.  I know you’re out there.  Very few of us have the leisure of ‘taking time off to write’.  Many of you work full time jobs, have children and still manage to master the blogging and writing world. 

How do you do it?  And I don’t just mean things like ‘it’s a matter of organization, Katie.’

Well, duh.

But how do you organize?  What sacrifices have you had to make? …If your S.O. hit the road…your children run barefoot and hairy through the house scourging for food… or your home looks like a candidate for ‘Hoarders’, I need to know if that’s what my future has in store.  (pfft, future? That sounds kind of like what most of my present days are like.)

So please.  Share your secrets.



Stina said...

Unfortunately, I'm not going to be any help. When I was a drug rep, there wasn't enough time to read a novel, let alone write one. I was working 45+ hours a week. And if I didn't have kids, I would have been working the weekends too. It wasn't until I left my job (I was laid off but was planning to quit since it was too hard balancing the job and three kids) that I considered pursuing my dream of being a fiction writer. My husband's been fine with that, since it's less stressful on the family than my career was.

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Sweetie, you are not going anywhere. You can't. I need my creepy!

*sigh*, I'm with Stina. Hmmm...I suggest waiting to figure it all out when you get another job. See what those obligations are and then adjust accordingly. You'll be surprised what you are capable of.

I believe in you. (Advice at a later date. All four kids are on 'mini-vacation' starting today. Driving me batty already!)

Claire King said...

I have two strategies - macro-wrangling and micro-wrangling. More here:
Good luck!

Joanna St. James said...

or we can just think positive, you sell your book and become a full time author.

Shain Brown said...

Oh no, we can't lose our creepy. I wish I could help but I do my writing in the morning before I go to work, so there is really no organizational secrets on my end.

Good luck, and have the bestest Thanksgiving.

Dan said...

I don't how much I can offer in the way of nuts-and-bolts advice, but maybe I can give you a little inspiration. I'm a paramedic; I average about 60 -70 hours a week. I'm married with two boys (they're 16 & 18, so they're somewhat self-sufficient, thankfully). I have three dogs, four cats, and a leopard gecko. My wife has fibromyalgia, which prevents her from being able to do too much around the house, so upkeep usually falls to me. In case you're wondering, doing things myself is easier than nagging on the boys 24/7, and less stressful. Unfortunately, they know that.

It sounds like I'm complaining, but I'm not. My point is, if I never wrote a word, my days and nights would be jam packed. On top of all that, somehow I've managed to scribble out 35K words of a zombie novel so far this month. That's on top of fine-tuning my query letter for my previous novel, outlining the next project, researching agents, and keeping up with the blog.

I'm probably the most disorganized person on the planet. To say that my time management skills are atrocious implies that I have any, but to my own amazement, I've been able to get things done, mostly.

Just write when you can, where you can. Even it's only ten minutes at a time. Same goes with polishing, querying, etc. It's not an ideal situation, but you'll be surprised at how much you're able to do.

Hope this helped. It would be a sad day if we lost Creepy Query Girl.

Jayne said...

Hey Katie. I also had to go back to full time work approx two years ago and am here to tell you blogging, writing and full-time work can be done! But you are right - it is damn tricky, of course. What I did was finish my book as a first draft before starting the job, and then used a diary to block out evenings/hours/weekends here and there to continue with redrafting. Lunchtime writing is hard, but can be achieved if you are just doing a little each time. The other thing (if you have a choice) is to take a job that gives you either as much holiday as you can get, or that is flexible as it can be. As for blogging - it is hard to keep up - mainly to keep up with commenting. I try to get to work very early or stay late once a week just to visit blogs/comment. Or I sneak in here and there. It feels like the balance is out of control sometimes but then I think of folk way busier than me and think if they can do it, I can do it. You can too. :)

Tracy said...

I have no children to speak of, so there is one "complication" you face that I don't have any experience with...but I do have a full time job, and the rest of the craziness on my plate.

The best advice I can give when it comes to writing is to take a page out of the NaNoWriMo book and learn how to write in small bursts. It's much easier to find 15 minutes here & 30 minutes there to sit down and write furiously, than it is to find 2+ hours to do so at a more leisurely pace.

AS far as being more proficient with the blog. I'm still trying to figure out how to do that myself, so I got nothing for you there.

Laura Pauling said...

Definetly wait to see what happens and what it's like. I hear a lot of bloggers, write all their posts for the week on Saturday night and schedule them. Or you could just post once or twice a week. And write at night. Lots of people do it - but I'm not sure how they keep their house clean and all that. :) You can do it!

lexcade said...

Dan, my mom has fibromyalgia too. when i still lived at home, i had to tend to all the domestic things (which is bad because i'm HORRIBLE at domestic things), do homework, study, and still make time for friends and writing. not easy, but possible.

i'm lucky that i have a job which allows me a LOT of freedom (hotels are perfect for writers/recluses--you have loads of free time in the off seasons and you're still forced to interact with people ;) ). however, when i didn't, i took time during lunch. i scribbled notes. i kept a notebook with me wherever i was. that way, i was still working, even if it wasn't technically writing the narrative. then on my off day, i would try to get some work done in between my errands and whatnot. sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.

Laura Maylene said...

First, good luck in the job search!

I work full time, am married, and write a ton. I do it by waking up early a few times a week to write in a cafe before work. I also am lucky enough to have writing buddies that I meet some evenings or on the weekends, usually 1-3 times a week, to write.

Honestly, the housework is the first thing to go. (Not that I'm the sole person in the household actually washing dishes or cleaning, of course.) But even then I find a way.

You can do it! It's tough but so many writers are able to handle it. Of course, I say this as someone who can't comprehend in the slightest how women who work full times, have kids, AND write do it. Seriously.

Holly Hill said...

Another mom working a 9-5 and managing to write. :) I use every minute to my advantage. Lunch break? I write. Short break during the day? I plan. Riding in the car? I make notes on my voice recorder for writing later. Then when my little one lays down at night, I write my heart out. Sure, I don't sleep a whole lot, but it's worth it.

It's really hard at first. It takes real passion and commitment, but it can be done. You adjust, and eventually it feels like second nature. :)

Cherie Reich said...

Fortunately, I've been very lucky to have the job I do now. I work in a quiet academic library, and when I don't have work to do or patrons to help, I can write, check blogs, blog, etc.

I sympathize with what you're going through, though. It took me two years to find a part-time job and then another year and a half to find the full-time job I have now, and with budget cuts, you never know when you might not have that job either.

I think the key is to set some time to do what you need/want to do. Plus, setting up blog posts in advanced is VERY helpful when you're strapped for time on other days.

Good luck, and I hope things work out!

Bast said...

My life gets neglected. I just don't have time for much of anything. I work, come home and blog, go to bed, wake up and go to work. I squeeze in some time at night to clean my house and to make dinner, of course, but other than that I don't do much. However, I have a screwed up schedule (2-10 or 11). I think if I worked the normal 9-5, I'd be able to manage a bit better.

Old Kitty said...

I'm sorry that your contract isn't being renewed! I wish you all the best with getting a full time job and I just know you'll succeed!! Yay!

I think the blogging is the least essential of all daily priorities for me anyway!! I love blogging cos it's such fun but it's not a must to have (I don't think anyway)! I think writing, family, time off etc takes priority - blogging will just have to fit in somewhere!

GOOD LUCK!!!! Take care

Matthew MacNish said...

I have a soul sucking day job that takes up about 50 hours of my life every single week.

It sucks.

But I do still find time to write, critique and blog. It REALLY helps that my kids are 9 and 14, and don't need a whole lot of hands on parenting anymore (and that Kelly does most of the housework, though I do all the cooking).

I can blog by the seat of my pants, but I find that when it comes to real writing I have to shut myself in a room away from the world for a while.

There is time to do it all, but you probably won't have time to write three books a year anymore.

LTM said...

it's tough. I'm flying by the seat of my pants most of the time...

have you considered picking up some freelance gigs? That's how I bring home some bacon. Like features for local papers/magazines, etc.

you might even get some online stuff~ good luck! :o)

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

I work full time and have a three-and-a-half-year-old son. Here's how I find writing/blogging time:

I bring my laptop to work and write on my lunch hour.

I generally prepare my blog posts at night, when my son is in bed. He has a late bedtime for his age (we're trying to change that), which makes it harder. I often stay up past eleven to finish.

I don't watch TV.

My husband helps out with some of the household chores, but since he works longer hours than I do, I still do most of them. I bake most of the main dishes, do laundry on weekends, and let my cleaning standards drop.

It's not easy, but it can be done. Actually, I find I'm more productive when I'm pressed for time (as with NaNoWriMo) than when I have all day to meet my word quota. Good luck!

randine said...

I can't really give you any advice, because I'm kind of struggling myself sometimes- except to say just be gentle with yourself.
Whenever I get overwhelmed with things, I always ask myself: what will I remember most ten years from now? That my floors were really clean? Or that I took the kids to the park and built sandcastles with them?
That I wrote a million blog posts? Or that I read to my kids every night before bed? It's all about balance, I guess.
And wine. That helps, too.

mshatch said...

I'm sure you can do it all - or most of it anyway :) And because I believe in you come over to my blog and pick up an award I've given you - which means you can't possibly quit blogging.

Jean Michelle Miernik said...

Here's what I do:

1. Get conscious about my priorities. Write them down, if it helps. Is spending time with your child more important than blogging? Own it. Is working on your novel more important than laundry? Announce it to the family and make it known.

2. Banish guilt. You have your priorities, and they are important. If you can't do everything this week, you will only do some things--in the very sensible order in which you have prioritized them in advance.

3. Without apologies, simplify the blogging presence. You don't have to quit altogether, but you may have to adjust certain habits--simpler posts, posting less often, not responding to every single comment or post that you're following. Your online friends will respect your lifestyle and won't be angry.

Unless you take your blog down entirely, then it sounds like there's going to be a riot. ;)

4. Trust that things will work out. You'll find shortcuts and routines that work for you along the way, if you keep stress levels down. Sometimes, the busiest people get the most writing done. I don't know how that works, but sometimes it does!

DL Hammons said...

Honestly, I don't see how working women with children under the age of 15 do it. I put in 48-50 hours a week at my job, 6 hours a week at the gym, and most of the time I'm a zombie when I walk through the door at night. Still, I hoarde enough time for myself to maintain my blog and work on my manuscript. But it's my wife who pushes our son to get good grades in school and puts a healthy meal infront of him every day. If I had that responsibility as well, I would still continue doing what I love, but in smaller chunks. piece of advice I can offer...get a job with internet access so you can read blogs during slow times at work (like I do).

Lenny Lee said...

hi miss katie! first i just gotta say the blog world couldnt ever be the same with out you. mostly i got no advice except maybe you could do like me and just do a post one time a week and go visit a couple blogs every day. for worrying bout whats gonna happen you just gotta do stuff one thing at one time and its all gonna be ok. take a break off worrying cause tomorrow you and me are watching that parade together.
...big hugs from lenny

Colene Murphy said...

This isn't gonna help but I do a lot of my blogging at work. Then at home after work. I quit vacuuming. That helped ;) Hubs does it now. Maybe you could set up time to do a little of everything on the weekends and hope everyone understand you just can't do it all, cause they will.

Jessica Bell said...

hmm, I work full-time, but not ALL the time, if you know what I mean. I take on project by project. And I don't have kids so I guess I'm not the right person to ask. But you know what? I find that the more I have to do, the more I do do. I guess it's the adrenaline. I suppose you're just going to have to set aside a couple of hours a night, to write and do the stuff you need to do, and make sure your family knows that it's 'your time', so you don't get interrupted and can use it wisely. :o) I hope you still have a good holiday tomorrow despite being so far from home! :o) XOXO

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Well, I decided I could live with a greater level of dust in the house, and I trained my daughters to make their own lunches and sometimes parts of dinner. I don't watch much television, and (sadly) I don't read books as much as I write these days.

I was able to spend a lot of time on other people's blogs when I was off for the summer, but now that I'm back to teaching, I just try to spread myself around and comment once and awhile.

Do I succeed? Not always. Hubs recently said he thought I spent more time interacting with internet friends each evening than with him. That made me sad, and I realize I need to fix that.

I do try to host or attend a Practice Room session once a week for at least 1 hour dedicated writing time, and my family respects that.

Oh, and I've burned dinner more than once because I was blogging or writing and not watching what was on the stove. No fires though.

Lindsay said...

No, don't leave us!!!!!

On the 'how to fit it all in' scale, sometimes I don't. Maybe just simplifying your blog presence and commenting on a certain number of blogs from the blog roll a day would help. But then again I am the girl who was so engrossed in editing I ate cereal for tea last night. lol.

Anonymous said...

Being unemployed can be hard and no fun. I wish you the best of luck finding a new job.

Nicole L Rivera said...

I don't have any secrets to share as I am not in your situation, but I do have this: YOU CANNOT GIVE UP!!! We need Creepy Query Girl. I love this blog. Not to mention you are a wonderful writer. I say take this as a challenge to get signed with and agent and publishing gig by July. Granted you'll probably still need a PT job, but PT is better than FT and no Creepy. I pull for the pub gig by July and no FT... I'll get out a poster and protest if I need to (sounds like a good slogan). Happy pre-Turkey Day!!

Kathryn Rose said...

I gave up TV. I work 9-1, 4-9 each day, and go home on my three-hour break to take care of the dog, before I trudge back. Not complaining. I'm fortunate to have a job, and I really like it. But TV had to go. Except for hockey. :)

Joy Tamsin David said...

Unfortunately, writing is what is falling by the wayside for me.

I blog 3x a week, read one novel a week, do homework with the kids, and work. That takes up pretty much all my time.

I try to write in between there but it's not as consistent as I'd like.

My husband does the cooking and I think the producers are considering our home for next season's Hoarders.

Nicole Zoltack said...

My writing/blogging time mostly comes either in the morning or at night, after my boys and hubby are sleeping. I have to sacrifice sleep or else I would never have any time to devote to it. Not with a 2 year old and an almost 4 month old. It's rough and there are days when I can't manage it all, but I do my best. And that's all anyone can do. :)

fakesteph said...

I don't have kids so I don't know how helpful this will be, but I definitely work. A lot. I think the most important thing is realistic goals. If you can only write 100 words three times a week, then your project will take a long time to finish, but it will get finished. I always consider myself and slow reader and a slow writer, but I read and write more than anyone I know because I don't wait for the long stretches of time. Be the tortoise, not the hare. haha.

Vicki Rocho said...

It's a delicate balancing act. Best thing I can suggest (and I didn't read any other ideas, so this might be redundant) is to watch out for time wasters: TV, Youtube, online games, etc.

There's some psychological principal that states people tend to use whatever time they have to finish a job. So while it seems like your plate is full now (and I'm not doubting you), when time becomes a little more scarce, you'll find a lot of things get condensed down and you'll wind up with more time.

Be prepared to take advantage of every idle moment: lunch hour at work, waiting in lobbies for doctors/dentists/etc. Have a book to read or a notebook to write in. It can work. Really.

K M Kelly said...

It's certainly a juggling act - I don't think I ever want to go back to work full time although the hubby keeps hinting.

What gives in my household is the housework - oops :-)

Hart Johnson said...

Katie, I work full time, write, blog, help raise kids. I suppose the advantage I have is my husband is our main homemaker--he cooks and shops. And our kids are 15 and 12. I started writing regularly in the time I was no longer reading to them--first one, then the other, felt like they outgrew it.

I think the ONLY way you can do it is to become very disciplined about REGULARITY. Take your laptop to work and write your blog post on your lunch hour. Write every night. EVERY. NIGHT. I confess to a day job that often allows me to troll other blogs a couple times a day, and a new job won't have that luxury... but you can do this.

Why did I think 30 hours was full time in France? And I KNOW the standard number of vacation days exceeds what we get in the states. So it will be more than you are doing, but you can do it.

Tamara Narayan said...

Hi Creepy. The only piece of advice I haven't seen yet in these comments are to compose blogs and scenes in your current manuscript while you do other things. I 'daydream' my writing while I'm trying to fall asleep, in the shower, or washing dishes. I can even edit in my head until a conversation or punch line or plot turn sounds right. If you learn to "write" in your head, by the time you sit down at the computer, your fingers will fly.

Good luck in the job search and a belated Happy Thanksgiving.


What a great question. I"m surprised no one's posted this query before--of course there are tons of posts and comments about how hard it is to do all of it, but I haven't seen much before in the way of strategies and creative solutions. Personally, I do work full time (and at times feel like I have two full time jobs, teaching and writing), so I blog on the weekends, especially Sundays. Blogging takes up whatever free, R & R time I had before.


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