Saturday, August 4, 2012

Committed

                                                            
Maybe I should be committed to an institution because I just quit my job. I’ve been a special ed teacher for the last twenty years. At the urging of my new husband, I quit my  teaching job to focus on writing. Now, I don’t think I am wonderful, and publishers will beg for my work. I do have a handful of contracts to fulfill, plus a wonderful editor in Larianne. I do know something has to change if I am going to get any better.

I get about five hours of sleep every night. Those of you who are teachers know school doesn’t en d at three.  I don’t leave until five after arriving at seven. Often I  have to return to help host some event. That left almost no time after fixing dinner, and sometimes squeezing in a trip to the gym, to write. I'd stay up past midnight trying to create content on my latest WIP, which made no sense the next morning. Like most women who work outside the home I let all my errands pile up. Weekends became a huge challenge to get everything done.

I walked into school with bittersweet feelings and resigned. I know Debbie Macomber’s story about she took three years off from work diligently putting out stories before anyone noticed. I don’t expect to be a Debbie Macomber, but I would like to improve my story-telling ability. I believe I will have time to attend workshops that before I never could finish. I pledge to be a better critique partner since I am finished moving, mostly. There are still several items I can't find.

It wasn’t too hard for me to quit since last year was the worst student population I ever had. Incidents included having my new glasses broken, my room vandalized, receiving threats from parents, and having my purse stolen twice. When I told my boss I was quitting he asked me why. I would have thought it obvious. Instead, I told him I had book contracts to fulfill, and one of the books hadn’t even been written yet. Who knew he would tell everyone in the school? Several employees are waiting for the first book in the series. I better edit it to death with my helpful editor. Now, I am truly, irrevocably committed.

 I am blessed in having a computer savvy husband who finds the book I've been editing all morning when it mysteriously disappears. I would love any advice from those of you who have undertook this route from time management to organization. I need your help!

10 comments:

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Hi, Morgan. Teachers are underappreciated. Twenty years is a good run. Congrats on making the leap of faith. My recommendation is to treat your writing like a job. When DH goes off to work, plant your butt in the chair and write or learn or promote, and do it for at least eight hours a day. Monday through Friday. Weekends are for hubby. Have fun with it!

morgan said...

Thanks Dawn for your advice. I also wondered if I should dress like I am going to work. I heard that helps maintain the work attitude.

Vonnie Davis said...

My situation is a little different. I'm retired as is my husband. We both write--he in the den and me in the living room on my recliner, pecking on my laptop. I try to read thru my emails while the coffee perks and then visit blogs and promote. Calvin sleeps in a couple hours longer than I. Once he's up, we have breakfast. By noon, I'm finally dressed and ready to work on my WIP. After dinner, I half-write and half-watch TV. Basically, if I'm awake, I'm working on my writing in one aspect or another. But, here's the thing. I waited SO long to get started. I feel as if I have years and years to make up for. I applaud you for taking your writing career seriously at an earlier state than I. Yay you.

As for teaching, I fear the students will only get worse as the years pass. And I only wish I knew the answer to that social ill. Sadly, this grandma doesn't.

Andi said...

Working from home is a challenge - it is too easy to get distracted. Over the past 9 years of working from home, I've learned:

1. Have a dedicated working space and working hours. Protect them at all costs.

2. Get dressed to your shoes - you are at work, not at home, even though it is hard to tell the difference on the outside. Shoes help tell your brain to work. And, take them off when you stop work, even for lunch - it helps train your brain that shoes on=time to write.

3. Keep a regular schedule. It doesn't matter what your schedule is, but keep your work hours dedicated to work. It is too easy to get distracted by things that need to be done.

4. Because you are home, friends and family will start to think you are not doing anything important, or not doing anything at all. They will start asking favours of you during work hours. Say no. Seriously. Say no, often, and loudly, and offer to do the favour on the weekend or after work instead. It will only take about 7 years of protecting your working hours before they understand that you are working just as hard as they do.

5. Track your productivity. You will lose time to the internet, to research, to favours for friends and family, and it is easy to lose track of how much/little work you've actually gotten done that week without a written record.
6. Choose specific days or hours for certain activities - it will make you more productive by keeping you focussed on the end goal. If you know that you write your blog posts for the week on Monday morning and then set them to post automatically, you'll be less likely to lose time to blogging during the week and you won't have panic days where you realize you haven't blogged yet that day, haven't done your other promotions for the week, haven't finished researching, and have a deadline coming up... well, you know that Monday morning is blogging, Wednesday morning is for research, Friday morning is for social media, and every other minute is reserved for writing... the real work is properly prioritized and the time-suck jobs are contained.

Lastly, make sure you eat well, take time to exercise, take breaks, and don't get caught in the trap of working 24/7. Your mind can't function properly if it is undernourished, unfit, and without adequate relaxation and sleep.

Good luck, and enjoy!

morgan said...

Hi Vonnie,

After dinner, I write promotional blogs and such sitting by my husband on the couch while he watches television. I want to be able to spend time with him. That was the whole point of getting married. LOL. I am glad you and Calvin are doing so well.

morgan said...

Hi Andi,

You certainly have given me alot to think about, especially the shoes.

I try to accomplish so much a day. If I feel I don't get it done during the day I try to work at night to finish it.

Luckily I don't live close to my family, but they do think I have all the free time in the world. LOL

Angela Kay Austin said...

Congratulations on your new job! It's always scary to do something like what you've done. It's great to have someone like your husband to encourage and support you while you take a stab at something you love.

I work from home, and I'd definitely recommend dressing up or finding a local spot you can haunt that's not distracting. Routine helps a lot :-)

Josie said...

Morgan,
My son is an elementary music teacher and works very, very hard at his job. He loves it, but I think he should be paid more. As you mentioned, a teacher's job doesn't end at 3:00 PM.

Super congrats on your decision and best wishes on your writing career.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Morgan, I took an early retirement to write a few years ago. For years I wrote every day. After being published, I started promoting. That takes soooo much time. Yes, I get dressed every morning and sit at my desk in my office as if I go to work. My hubby also took an early retirement. His desk is across from mine with his laptop as I hate to feel that my writing separates us. This arrangement keeps us close together.

Terry Spear said...

A week and a half ago I quit my job at the library! Like you, I decided I couldn't take any more. I was working 40 hours at it and 40-45 hours at writing. I couldn't do it any longer. I finally decided this was my chance to really excel at this or not.

I have a Sept 15 deadline on a book and an Oct 15 deadline on another and 40,000 words to write in guest blogs in Sept for a release in Oct, so I don't have time to do anything but write. I don't know how I could have fit a day job in there too.

But the most important advice I can give--write! I write, promote, and write some more. Instead of getting 1,000 words done a day, 500 words in the morning before work and 500 or more at night after work and 5,000 during the weekend, I'm getting 4,000 done a day! That doesn't mean I can goof off once I've met these deadlines. It means I can write more. :)

But best of all I have fun doing it too because now I don't have to keep stopping to go to a day job! Have fun!