Writing Is Work, Too
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” –Aristotle
In the days of me working a traditional job, there were times when I absolutely hated it.
I had to get up at a specific time to be ready for work.
Everything had to be done early so that I could be there to punch in for my expected shift — on time.
Once I got there, I took pride in my productivity. My work was a big deal to me.
But one of the things I enjoyed about the job was the breaks. I’d go and take a load off, sitting in the break room or car, thinking about where all this wasted time was going to lead me.
But my favorite part of the day, since we’re being honest here, was clocking out. Hearing that beep after placing my thumb on the finger scanner was the best feeling. I think I walked faster at the end of the day than any other time during the shift.
Soon enough, I started writing on Medium. And I noticed that having a flexible schedule was amazing. I could go and come as I please, without anybody breathing down my neck about work performance or any such thing.
It wasn’t something I was used to.
Consequently, I started to slack off. Getting up when I wanted to get up, squandering time by doing things I should’ve been doing later, being unproductive in general — this was a follow up of my amazement for having an ample amount of “free time.”
Eventually, I got tired of it. Money wasn’t flowing in like I’d hoped. I wasn’t feeling the energy I used to feel in the beginning. And I wanted to make a change.
So, I created a work schedule, and not just for fun, either.
I created a work schedule to force my brain into treating writing like a job — because it is a job.
Schedules Ruin Convenience
An alarm is what woke me up at 6 every morning. And by 6:30, I was out the door. And if you know me, you know that rolling out of bed is far from the easiest thing to do.
But there was no option for me to not go to work (unless, of course, I was ill). The fact of the matter is, if I wanted to earn some cash, I had to go to work.
Having my own schedule led me to believe I didn’t have to get up by a certain time. Writing on here is so flexible I don’t even have to leave home if I don’t feel up to it. Its convenient. Almost too convenient. I mean, you don’t have to work for weeks at a time if you don’t want to and still have a job.
However, if I wanted to start seeing some changes, I had to make them.
The amazing part about our bodies is that it will eventually adjust to the schedule we create. There are some things that obviously take some time to get comfortable with. Getting up early was one those things for me.
But if I wanted to earn some cash, I had to work for it. Period.
Let’s Be Honest
Look, we can all pretend as if money has nothing to do with why we write.
It is perfectly fine to work for money. You don’t have to feel guilty about it.
Passion is not the only reason we do this. Bills have to be paid. And I don’t know about you, but this isn’t exactly a “side hustle” for me.
Some of us have quit our jobs for this and pretending to only do this because of passion sounds great, but it’s getting old. Sure, passion is a part of it. But it is not the only reason.
Schedules Require Commitment
At my traditional job, there was a previously agreed upon time in which I was expected to show up and work.
Unfortunately, this concept of commitment became nonexistent to me after opening my availability. I had created bland schedules, stuck it on my wall, and months would go by before I even noticed it was there. There was a wide range of activities to do when I felt like it. The problem was that none of those activities ordinarily included writing — which, if you’re starting to write for a living, you’re going to want to include this into your list of things to do during the day.
Commitment to something that you’ve started is a big deal, not only as a writer, but in life. Seeing this allowed me to create the schedule I have now and stick to it. It really does have an effect on the quality of your work. You now take responsibility for your own success, whereas that was someone else’s job before.
Every weekday morning, I sit at my desk, or wherever it is I’m working, and start. It may sound like complete trash, but I’ll work it as much as humanly possible during the workday. Something is getting done.
My traditional job depended on my productivity.
At that job, we operated on an incentive-based program. Those who averaged more than 100%, earned more cash on their next pay paycheck. I average around 108% each week.
I frankly liked the idea of earning extra money. I mean, why not get the incentive if their offering it?
After quitting that job, I tried to figure out why I wasn’t applying this to my writing. It’s basically the same thing. If you put out more quality work, you’ll begin to earn more money as a result.
So, I started working in light of this concept. The next month, I saw improvement.
See, that job wasn’t completely pointless. It taught me something.
We’d be surprised how productive we can be in our own system. I know that’s not a popular word. But a system, whether created by you or someone else, is still a system. And if we created a system that works best for us, not necessarily the most comfortable, our productivity will improve in ways we would’ve never imagined.
Breaks Are Not Pointless
For some, taking a break is for the weak.
For the smart ones, however, they understand how valuable a break is.
Our bodies need a time to shut down. The technologies we use need time to relax, we need that break, too.
Breaks help our bodies recuperate from a long, exhausting day. Our bodies get used and abused. And it needs a moment to recover. Believe me, those creative ideas will have a hard time coming to mind if you don’t heed this advice.
And this is not my advice. It’s just common sense.
We are not robots. It doesn’t matter if you work from home, a warehouse, or the white house, our bodies tell us when we need a break. We should listen.
Overworking Is Killing You
There’s a time for everything. And not working is included in that sentence, whether you see or not.
Our bodies need time away from work in general, not just a short break.
Working unnecessarily long hours to produce the world’s best article may seem like an important task that must be tackled.
But you should be aware that you are literally ending your life by doing so.
A study done by Harvard University tells us some of the dangers of overworking. People who work more than 55 hours per week are 33% more likely to have a stroke than those who work 40 hours per week or less, no matter how technical or easy their job is.
Those who overwork typically don’t feel up to exercising regularly. They are normally exhausted from work and simply don’t have the energy to physically workout.
A healthy diet is also something over workers are often forced to avoid. Food is normally consumed on the go. And a time to eat a much healthier meal is not always an option.
Stress is a killer, and not taking a moment to put down anything that has to do with work could enhance that problem.
One of the reasons I created a schedule was to limit the amount of time and energy I spend on work and be able to spend it on other activities — activities that benefit my life as a person, not just as a writer.
No Self-Discipline Makes Schedules Irrelevant
One of my biggest problems in the beginning stages was the mentality that I had all day to finish my work. This mindset typically led me to into a mud hole of procrastination. I put out mediocre work as a result. And, most surprisingly, I didn’t get anything done.
A flexible schedule should allow us to do more work, not less.
The specific time-frame does not matter; the fact that a schedule is made to go by, on the other hand, does matter.
In my case, too much freedom was not entirely a good thing — especially with my lack of self-discipline. And having a schedule with no self-discipline makes it all somewhat pointless.
You can use a schedule to your benefit, or you can use it as an opportunity to waste more time. The choice is yours.