Tim the Time Cop – Designing Your Work Schedule for Writing
5:55am: I descend the stairs and pour a bowl of cereal. Fresh coffee is waiting in the pot. I had prepped the coffee the night before, and set the timer for 5:45am so I can start drinking it as soon as possible. I have showered, shaved, and made brunch and lunch the night before, as well, so I can be out the door sooner rather than later.
6:00am: I stand in the kitchen and eat breakfast, drinking coffee, and thinking about what I’m going to accomplish that morning in the studio.
My bag, with at least a notebook if not also a laptop and an iPod, is waiting by the door. Having my bag already packed and ready will prevent me from running around looking for my keys, wallet, cell phone, notebook, pens, etcetera, and instead, I can remain focused on one thing in the morning: writing.
6:10-6:20am: Brush teeth, brush hair, get dressed.
6:20am: I kiss my still sleepy wife and head out the door.
6:30am: I arrive at the studio that I share with a number of friends from The Center for Cartoon Studies. Fortunately, I am the only one who gets up this early, so I’m not distracted. I can immediately get going without an interruption to my focus.
6:30-8:15am: I write.
Often, my mind, as it peers out from slumber land retains a connection to a dreamy, creative state. And by the time I’m sitting at my desk in the studio with my notebook or laptop open, I’m ready to work, but if that’s not the case, I journal first.
Through journaling, exploring what I’m feeling or thinking about that morning, I can unearth what I want to write about and I let it fly for as long as it takes or for as long as I can before my day job or life responsibilities call me away (like right now, I’m late for work and growing later by the minute, but I have to let it out!).
The point is, creativity doesn’t always just pop out. Sometimes it does, but more likely the circumstances you design and the practice you establish enable it or don’t.
Ask yourself: Do I produce better work during the morning or the evening? Which time did I enjoy more? Am I better at certain things at specific times of the day? Are there times that I hate writing? Why? What is my natural rhythm and how can I serve that as best I can within the confines of reality and life responsibilities?
These are big questions and take a good deal of experimenting to know for certain. It’s taken a while (I’m not sure how long, maybe a few years of off-and-on observation but it could be done faster than that for sure) to figure out how I like to work and how to compromise with the realities of day jobs and other responsibilities, but that hard work is paying off.
Listen to yourself and you can design a work experience that enables your creative spirit and keeps you working at your best.
8:15am (but really, 8:30am): I pack up my bag, lock up the studio and head off toward my day job.
8:30am (8:45am): I arrive on time (15 minutes late) and work an 8-hour shift, leaving at 5:00pm (5:15pm).
5:00-9:00pm: I spend the evening with my wife, read, catch up on emails, or see some friends, and prepare for the next morning.
I am a writer one day at a time.