Alex Callahan

Perfect mix of magic and mayhem

What I learned when I wrote like it was my job for a day

The Set-Up

As I wrote in my previous post, Friday, May 1 was a bank holiday in Poland, which meant I would not be working. At the same time, due to the pandemic, I wouldn’t really be able to go out and enjoy the day outside.

So I might as well just work, right?

I decided, in what might’ve been a moment of temporary insanity, that I will pretend fiction writing is my full-time job and from 7 am to 3.30 pm (hours I normally spend at work) I will do only things connected to my “job”

I tracked my day in Roam – a note-taking app that I recently discovered and quickly fell in love with. I figured it would make it easier to analyze the day later and see if it made sense to repeat the experiment.

I wanted to work on three related projects:

  • my current writing project – a YA urban fantasy novel I’m editing right now (though I’m rewriting Act III, so I’m doing more #writing than anything else)
  • my author’s website – I had some issues with my newsletter and needed to set it up again from scratch and reconnect. It’s still not working as it should, but small steps, right?
  • some novel related research – more specifically car accidents and injuries resulting from them.

How the Day Progressed

I started writing at 7.30am (I had to wake up and start everything… Maybe check my email as well) and had two writing sessions (with a short break in between) until 9am. After that, I had to do some research into the aforementioned car accidents. Then I wrote until 12.30 (with a quick lunch break right before 12). To quote my notes from Roam:

  • #writing – 279/1500 words after 1st session
  • #writing – 470/1500 words after 2nd session
  • #writing – 712/1500 words after 3rd session
  • #writing – 955/1500 after 4th session
  • #writing – 1223/1500 after 5th session
  • #writing – 1570/1500 after 6th session

Needless to say, I reached my writing goal for the day and it took me more or less 5 hours.

I still had 3 hours to go before I could start relaxing.

I used one of the working sessions to figure out how to fix my newsletter (though, because the tech-challenged person that I am, I’m still not sure if it’s working) – though if you’re having trouble signing up, do let me know!

The rest of my “working day” was spent on research. I learned all sorts of things about car accidents, was shocked to discover there are still 19 states in the US with no primary enforcement law when it comes to seat belts and looked into ideas on what kind of newsletters I could send.

Don’t judge me on that last one. As an introvert, I have problems seamlessly reaching out to people. Social media is a constant learning process for me.

Lessons Learned

The biggest question going in was whether or not I would actually be able to do it. Write consistently, not waste my day away on YouTube or anything else.

I am very pleased to say that the day was a resounding success. Maybe I haven’t written as much as when I was going the #writing10kinaday challenge on Instagram, but the next day I was actually able to write some more. I wasn’t burned out or exhausted by the end of my “workday”.

I learned how important having a way to handle distractions is. In the past, I was just clicking away from Scrivener when I wanted to take a look at my inbox, or reaching for my phone for a quick Twitter scroll. Or worst of all, I closed Scrivener when I reached 150 words and went on with my day.

This time, I wanted to stick it out for the full writing session (25 minutes) and every time I got an urge to click away, or switch focus, I wrote it down. I did actually follow through and didn’t click away from Scrivener, but I recorded the urge itself. Every time, I marked it clearly with a #distraction

  • #distraction – wanted to color in the day in #bujo
  • #distraction – wanted to post to #Twitter about they’re vs. their and why am I still making that mistake???
  • #distraction – added org structure to roam
  • #distraction – mom ask me to take something off of the high shelf
  • #distraction #blog #idea – write up an article for the website on roam
  • #distraction #Twitter – transitions are hard yo
  • #distraction – I should create a #research project in the timer app

My brain gets easily distracted, but apparently just writing the stray thought down helps immensely (or obediently going to the kitchen to take that package of pasta that my mom wanted).

Having a clear goal for what I wanted to accomplish in the day was a very good idea. I knew the word count I wanted to hit and what specific tasks connected to my website I wanted to complete. It gave me purpose and I know what I was aiming for. I knew when I was done after those were accomplished.

Not to mention it gave me a clear way to measure success.

I mean, I knew those were important, but seeing them in action and (more importantly) seeing how getting them done motivated me made it even more clear what a helpful technique that was.

In Closing

The experiment worked and I will definitely be repeating it in the future. In fact, June 11 of this year is another bank holiday in Poland. It falls on Thursday and I will definitely be using it as another Write Like It’s Your Job Day.

I pushed myself to focus during the writing sessions and complete the research I needed without stopping.

I actually had fun and I felt like I was engaging with people on social media more in between my sprints.

Finally, I know fiction writing could be my full-time job and I would be able to get the work done. Something to aim for, I suppose.

Write Like It’s Your Job Day

Fiction writing was never my full-time job. When I was working as a freelance writer, I mostly wrote non-fiction and social media content for my clients. But writing all day tapped my creativity completely and there was very little left for fiction. So back in those days, I was technically a full-time writer, but not the kind I wanted.

Now I’m back in the corporate world and my creativity is used on my fiction projects and nothing else (and the stability of that corporate paycheck does add up a level of comfort).

But that doesn’t mean that I’m still not dreaming every so often about making fiction writing my full-time job.

So, hear me out:

I’ve been doing pretty well in April, writing a little bit every day to keep my writing streak going for Camp NaNo. As fate would have it, immediately after Camp, on May 1st, there’s a national holiday in Poland, so I will have a day off from work (and what luck would have it: it’s a Friday).

We’re still in the state of pandemic and it’s unlikely I’ll celebrate by going out. So I got a crazy idea.

I work from 7 am to 3.30 pm. Why not keep that schedule, but instead of my corporate job, spend those hours writing.

As if it was my real job.

I’ve had all-day challenges before (like the #write10kinaday challenge on Instagram last July), but they always happened on the weekend, when I was clearly trading off my day off for writing.

This time, I can pretend to work full time as an author and see what it would feel like and if I like it.

And more importantly: if I can be productive during that time.

I’m hoping I can write for at least 4 hours that day and maybe get some writing-adjacent tasks during the rest of the time. We shall see.

Wanna join me? 

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