Jessica, over at the Bookends blog, has a post about the crazy hours of an agent and she wants to know:
I’m wondering if your day jobs also require you to work weekends and nights, because in my experience in publishing, as an editor and agent, it’s not an option.
And if you are required to work nights and weekends in addition to 9 to 5, how do you possibly find time to write on top of that?
I'm not laughing at Jessica's question; I'm laughing at the thought that a lawyer might work 9 to 5. Sure, I know some lawyers do it, but you know what they call those lawyers?
I'm not even kidding. When I worked at a law firm, my standard work week was 10 hours a day, Monday through Friday, plus at least half a day on Saturdays. And that didn't count any important work that came up on weekends or evenings or big projects that were going on. For example, one month we had a major case going on and I worked almost 320 hours that month. Working 9 to 5 means you would work 160 hours a month.*
Since I moved to Big Company, the schedule is not so arduous. I have weekends off, which is nice, and my schedule is a lot more predictable. Still, I average slightly more than 200 hours a month**, which is 50 hours a week, more or less.
So how do I find time to write in addition to that (and the other stuff I do)?
I make time.
I get up at the crack of dawn. I stay up late.
I work hard at time management, both when I'm at work and when I'm not.
I'm also really diligent about guarding my time. I don't let people intrude on the time that I've set aside for writing.***
I have lackadaisical attitude about certain things that matter to other people, like yard work and housekeeping.****
It's not always easy, and I'm not always great at it. This last week, for example, I haven't been able to do as much writing as I wanted to, and I'm starting to get itchy about that, because I've got a bunch of writing stuff going on in my brain that hasn't been committed to paper. But I have limited time and I can't spend any of it beating myself up about what didn't happen last week. Onward!*****
*And I was one of five lawyers on the case.
**For those of you who don't know a lawyer, we have to track our time per project. I track in tenths of an hour, which means that, at any given time, I can tell you how much time I spent on a project in 6-minute increments.
***This is easier for me than it might be for people who are married or have kids, obvs.
****I don't write these things off totally, and live in a hovel full of filth or anything, I just don't care bout them as much as some people do. Let's just say that on any given day my lawn probably needs to be mowed or my house needs to be vacuumed. And it always needs to be dusted.
*****It's funny, though, because many of the people who responded to Jessica's question responded that they cut out television to save time, which I don't do (I'm watching it as I write this, as a matter of fact :) ). For me, watching television is partly research and partly mental space. Since I write YA, I have to have a passing familiarity with things that matter in pop culture. As a writer, period, I have to have some mental downtime between my job and my writing where I can just turn my brain off and not think. But I don't watch a ton of television, and I don't watch it just to watch. I have a DVR, and I use the hell out of it.