I’d like to have the luxury of writing all day, but as Elizabeth Gilbert says in BIG MAGIC, you can be childish, or childlike when it comes to your creativity. I choose to be childlike.
What’s the difference? When you’re childish about a creative endeavor you absolutely must follow, you sacrifice everything in your life to do it, and that often means giving up the safety of a job to keep your dream alive. Of course, anyone who has a joyful relationship with creativity would love nothing more than to simply do that thing all the time—write, draw, dance, whatever. Can you imagine getting up each day with nothing ahead of you but the opportunity to do that thing? But to do that full time, you give up the security of knowing you can pay your bills, or you must rely on someone else to do that for you, which can put a real strain on a relationship. It’s like being a kid all over again—enjoying whatever you want to do without any responsibility, no matter what. Personally, I think that’s a terribly stressful way to live. I choose to be childlike.
Being childlike in your creative pursuits is about enjoying what you love to do creatively, but having the means to support that effort, too. Yeppers, that means having a job. You don’t have to love that job–you just have to have it. It will be there to pay for food, buy you some new supplies, keep a roof over your head. It’s a security blanket, in a way. And it will allow you to enjoy the time you have for creating in a way you never could otherwise.
I’m lucky enough to love my day job as well as my writing life. I work five days a week, 8 hours a day as a children’s librarian and assistant librarian, and carve out time in between for everything else, including writing. My job is hectic, active, stressful sometimes because I deal with the public most of the time, but also creative, satisfying, and really interesting. I’m excited to go to work each day, but I’m also actively thinking about my other work, too. Having a job makes the time I write really special, because it’s all for me, and it feels like the dessert at the end of a meal.
So, what’s a typical day like for me?
- 6:30am: Wake up, eat breakfast, get ready for work, clean kitchen etc.
- 8:30am: Do any possible short errands before work. And if it’s Friday, I stop at Starbucks for a morning latte.
- 9-11:30am: Run children’s programs, catch up on library emails, answer phones, update computers, print posters, send out advertisements for programs, visit daycares to do special storytimes, work on new library displays
- noon-1pm: Run errands, grab a bite to eat, work on latest writing project for 30 minutes
- 1-5:30pm: Run programs, prep for other programs, work on the main desk at the library, catalog books, weed the collection, answer/send library emails, supervise students, write reports, do program statistics and assessments, do outreach to schools or daycares
- 5:30-7:00pm: Dinner, time with family, prep food, lunches for following day, special meals, clean
- 7-9pm: Write/revise/plan
- 9-10pm: TV
- 10-11pm: reading, prepping clothes for next day, bedtime…..
I stick to a pretty similar schedule most days. While there are other days of the week that are very different (weekends, evening commitments etc.,), this is an ideal run down of a day. That’s not a lot of writing time–2.5 hours if all goes well, but I need the consistent schedule to allow me to function in a busy environment the next day, and still have enough energy to do the things I want to do. (Oh, to be 25 again!)
But I feel good about getting it all in. And I miss the writing time SO much if I can’t make it happen. It feels like a good balance to everything when I’m sitting at my computer pounding away on the keys, dropping into a world I’ve created. Hopefully, one day, you’ll get to see what I’ve spent all these years working on.
What is YOUR schedule like during the day?