I’m not the most efficient writer I know. I find it very hard to achieve a lot of work in an evening. But I do try. My evenings are planned and timetabled week by week: there’s a certain amount of work I aim to get done. I might waste a lot of time staring at my computer screen or reading Twitter (which is where the inefficiency comes in) but generally by the end of the week, I’ve met my target one way or another.
I refer to this process as ‘work’. It’s misleading. I don’t get paid for it; no one makes me do it. It’s work that I’ve chosen to do for no reason other than that I want to ‘be’ a writer. Which is a hard thing to explain to the average non-writer.
Occasionally I get asked to do extra work at school in the evenings and I find it difficult to turn it down. I’m one of the few support staff without children and therefore a solid reason why I absolutely can’t do anything else in the evening... so I’m often an early point of call when cover is needed.
When I do extra paid work, my writing time suffers but I find it hard to justify my writing as being ‘work’. Indeed there’s no payoff to speak of and it’s very difficult to explain why I think it’s important to maintain my commitment... particularly when someone’s stuck and needs support to cover an absence.
If I had another paid job in the evenings, I would have to turn things down more regularly than I currently feel able to. Is it really any different, I wonder? Is a commitment made for oneself less of a commitment than the ones made to other people?
Image by Ildar Sagdejev.