Work versus The Life of a Writer

Just as most other writers out there I am one of those who as of yet can not pay my bills through my writing. That means finding something else that brings money in, which in my case is a regular 2 shift job at in the wood-industry; a sawmill to be more precise.

In the grand scheme of things it’s all fine and the work is not necessarily bad, not when you start caring about the product you are making and care for the details. Making a good job and focusing on getting better at what you  do also helps getting the boredom of doing the same (or similar) tasks all day long. Of course there are those days when getting up from bed in the early morning to head to work is tough.

And then there is this thing with balance. Steady work means steady income but it comes at the price of less self-time and less time for writing. Often when I get home from work in the afternoon I am to tired to sit down and write and I end up wasting the hours before bedtime or I do a little plot-planning and structuring of existing chapters/scenes etcetera.

I don’t feel like I am getting anywhere. Like I am stuck. This makes me somewhat frustrated and even if I look at my life, what I have and the possibilities I have I can’t get rid of the feeling of being bored, tired and pretty much sick of everything around me. I find myself wishing to disappear and start over someplace else. I really don’t want to be another one of those who get stuck at a boring regular work and then forgets about the dreams and the endless possibilities that could come with it.

I don’t have the tools for it. Or, maybe more accurate, I don’t know where I have put my tools to deal with it. So I stumble along…

The other aspect of things is inside a question I often ask myself: how important is writing for you? I’d like to say: without it I would have no reason to exist. Is that true? I’m not sure but I do know that if I don’t write for a few days or weeks I get really weird and somewhat depressed and secondly, I think about stories and plots and lines all the time.

So for me writing is really what I live for these days but, as mentioned earlier, I have a real struggle finding (read: taking) the time to write and do actual work on my projects. Recently I did quit my role as chairman of a theater and in doing so I did also leave everything else at the theater. It sucks as the theater was my second home and I loved that place but I had to take something out of my life in order to make more room for the other things: writing. Quitting my job is not an option as I need the income.

Planning does not make shit happen. Only I can make shit happen. My life is in my control and it will become whatever I work the hardest for.

Polyphasic Sleep Pattern – Update 3.0

A while ago I went headfirst into the ideas behind Polyphasic Sleep and thought that it could be of great help as I have had-and still have-troubles with my sleeping; mainly I sleep to much.

After I had taken a look into the many different variations of this sleep-system I decided to give the Everyman a try, with a small modification to suit my work schedule. Said and done I went for it. I did fail with a massive sleep five days in; missed a complete workday and completely messed up the continuation of this sleeping schedule.

So what happened after that catastrophic failure? Well, I got in touch with the healthcare service through work and now, after the “initial talk” I will be seeing a doctor to take some basic tests to rule out any kind of low nutrition, minerals, vitamins or whatever. After that, who knows… I was told that I might be sent to a specialist, a psychiatrist of some sort to really get down into the deep with my sleep problems.

As it stands. Everything is going fine until one day-seemingly random-I fall asleep for twenty-four hours or more. My guess is stress-related issues that I am not aware of as of yet. We’ll see how things pans out. It would be lovely to get a hold of my sleeping and get rid of those super long sleeps.

So for now I will continue my life as if everything is fine. Sleep like a “normal” person and just hope I can find the “problem” with help from doctors and the likes.

The Writing Process – Family or Writing First?

Family or Writing first?

This post is as much a tool for myself - to get an overlook of what I need to do in order for me to come back into the groove - as much as it could be of some help for other writers out there, like yourself. It can always be good to take a step back and have a look at "how am I doing?" because in time one tend to get a little off track, distracted by, as an example, the Internet Of Things.

What I have tried to write here is a help to get your writing going (if you lost it) or pushed even further if you already are going somewhat strong but could need a little push for that little extra.

See it as tips and not a template as everything are different from writer to writer.

1. Introduction

We have all been there, down the alley that holds nothing but locked doors and the key is nowhere to be found. You stumble around looking for it. We blame someone else for hiding it, having lost it. We blame outside forces for taking up all our time so we have non left for the creative art, like a “regular” job. It’s easy to blame someone or something else for one’s inability to sit down and write that next piece that haunts the mind around the clock.

In fact, the key to the locks are in your pocket, it has been all the time. All you have to do is reach for it. It’s as simple as that. Yet it can be difficult. The difficulty, as I see it, is: as soon as you reach for that key and unlock the doors you have no more excuses to not write. It’s now all on you – as it has always been – but this time around it’s definite.

Surly you can open the doors, have a peak inside and decide to lock them again and put the key back into your pocket and return to whatever else you might do with your life and feel your soul decaying with regret.

That should not be an option! I have done it, many times and I feel as bad every time I do it.

In the light of this I have decided to make this post, as a guide not just for myself but for others struggling with their writing process. I like to call it Writing Process as in my mind it includes so much more than just “how you write”; it’s the creative space, the mindset, time of day, consumables etcetera.

2. Different Writers – Different Setups

We all have different preferences. Some call them self night owls (myself included) but that does not mean I am the most creative at night. Certain writers like public spaces while others hide in the attic. Some booze them self while others are happy with just coffee. There is no right or wrong, just the perfect setup for your creative personal self.

The problem lies in finding this creative space, this perfect setup (if there’s even such a thing?).  First you need to get the key from out of your pocket and unlock the door. Try this space out – rearrange the furniture’s, change the mood of the space with lightning and fabrics, experiment. You might think you love a certain way and that’s the way it has to be, but if you are like me – stuck – you might want to reconsider and try something new. New is always good as it brings opportunity to learn.

As I said earlier, I consider myself a night person but in fact I write the best in silence of the early mornings before sunrise, accompanied by a freshly brew of coffee. I discovered this by chance when I accidentally woke early and decided to get up, which is uncommon for me to do, the get up part.

If you are stuck I recommend you to make big changes. The worst thing that could happen is that you find new sides of yourself, and that’s not so bad.

Here’s a small list of things to consider:

  • Time of day: a fresh mind might be helpful even if you are tired.
  • The Workspace: A dedicated home office might be good. Some prefer the closest coffee shop, others the kitchen. We all have our preferences.
  • Sounds: You like complete silence or some background noise? From the TV, a radio, music? Maybe people chattering away, a podcast?
  • Consumables: Coffee, tea, alcohol, snacks, cigarettes? Nothing? A combination?

3. Loved Ones and Using the Space

This is a tough one. Creating the perfect home office for writing might seem like a hard nut to crack but in fact all you have to do is to dedicate a space, stuff some furniture’s, fabrics and lightning in it and you are pretty much set. Rearrange or replace if something does not work. Simple.

But to use the space for what it’s designed for. That’s a lot different. It’s easy to escape to the space and just sit there and think about writing, a means of escape from whatever haunts you in the outside world. That will certainly ruin your creative space and turn it into a nothing-room and you will once again be back at square one – a locked door.

Learn from my mistake: I used my creative space as an excuse to get away which ultimately lead to the destruction of my relationship with my now ex-girlfriend.

Every time you enter your newly creative space whether it is a home office, the kitchen or the coffee shop down the street, go there with the pure intention of writing and nothing else. Surly, one might have to access the kitchen outside of writing but you know what I mean, right? Be true to yourself about this. Everyone will thank you for it in the long run, most importantly you yourself.

This is important: Don’t get to selfish. If you have a family, a girlfriend/boyfriend, roommate – whatever. Include them in your process and the search for your ultimate creative space. They need to understand! I can not stress this enough. THEY NEED TO UNDERSTAND and you need them to understand, otherwise they will not be able to respect the privacy you might need and so they will turn into a distraction you will want to get away from. It will harm you and your loved ones.

So to conclude this section, here’s a few bullet points to consider:

  • Actual space: create (or go to) your perfect space with the pure intent of writing. Otherwise – stay away!
  • Get family in on the ride: make them understand and respect your writing space and process.
  • Be determined: Do what you need in order write.

4. Creating Routines

For me personally this is one of the hardest things in life. I suck at creating and maintaining a solid healthy routines whether it is sleep, food, hygiene, cleaning and dishes or when I write. It’s basically a mess.

I sometimes promise myself to start being determined, to be disciplined in my writing and I end up planning away day by day and by the time I am done I am overwhelmed by the facts: there’s not enough time to make it by set deadline. I end up stressed about it and can’t focus on what’s important: writing. Hence, I fall behind even further.

To battle this I intend to make new and healthy routines and get back into a functioning something. It’s all good to write down all the different aspects of your life and find a pattern of how stuff works, what you need to change so you can reach the set goals and deadlines. But it only works if you stick to it. Which requires discipline and determination. Yes I know I am repeating myself but this is consciously done as this aspect of a functioning existence is key to make great progress with one’s writing.

Get rid of distractions as soon as possible for they will destroy you from the inside like cancer.

As part of battling this laziness – if you will – I try to get somewhat dressed up. It make you feel like as you are heading to work, putting your mind into a time-to-work-state instead of a lazy-day-in-the-couch. This particular action works well – at least for me – when I have a dedicated writing space to go to. But there’s so much more one can do: eat at regular times of the day; take breaks at set times; having a end-of-day time.

To go further. I am almost always distracted mentally by the mess I live in, with undone dishes, a pile of dirty cloths and a home in desperate need of cleaning. I’ve had other distractions like my chairman position at a theater, which I now have ended to give myself some more space for my own creative time. Social Media is also a big distraction. Mostly YouTube, where I can end up wasting hours until the day ends and I realize I have done nothing noteworthy and I go to bed with a mind filled with thoughts of all the things I should have done, need to do and disappointed in myself for letting this distraction take control over me once again and how it need to stop.

This part – creating routines and breaking bad habits – might possibly be the toughest part for a lot of writers out there. But there’s hope and it comes with determination and discipline.

And here are a few more bullet points to summarize this section:

  • Dedicate time: a couple of hours a day throughout the week. Be resonable with deadlines. 2000 words a day might not seem so much but in reality, it can be overwhelming.
  • New routines: Make a list of all the things you need to change in order to get the time and space needed. Stick to it through think and thin. Check them off as you get along.
  • Clothing: to dress in something other than a jumpsuit as if you were to head to a meeting might help.
  • Distractions: Just get rid of them!

5. Make shit happen

Everything’s fine so far. You have your space. New routines are taking shape. The family is with you all the way. Now it’s time to get down to business – make shit happen.

Easy? Yes it is, if WRITING is what you live for! Or maybe not so easy. It’s like with all lines of work. You have your days when you just want to stay home and do nothing. And those days can exist and might have to exist for the good days to be meaningful.

How could you be happy(or know that you are) if sadness did not exist?

But writing is an artform that requires nurture and lots of hard work, many hours of ripping the hair and gallons of coffee (or whatever you prefer to drink). If you respect it and treat it for what it is: a daily job, even if it’s beside another one and does not pay any bills (yet). And as with any job you need time off, a free weekend, vacation and leisure days and you have to take them, but not overdo them. Be resonable.

Another aspect of the Writing Process, which could easily be it’s own section, is the two-faced approach: rough drafting first or write and edit simultaneously? We are all different here. I mostly rough draft when writing but before each new writing session I read through the previous part I’ve written and while doing so end up changing a few things here and there before continuing. I find that working for me as it brings me up to speed, as I can sometimes forget details that might be important for the continuation.

What are you waiting for? Time to get bussy writing…

  • Respect your own art: treat it well. Nurture it.
  • Allow yourself Zero-days: a none writing leisure day.
  • The approach: Editing while writing or Write first and edit later?
If you found this post inspiring and helpful, please feel free to share it, like it and comment on it. If you did not, please tell me what I did miss. What could I change?

Polyphasic Sleep Pattern – One Week Past: Crashed!

From having trouble with sleep for a long time now I decided to give Polyphasic Sleep a try – an alternation of Everyman – and this is my rundown of the first week that has passed.

START: Sunday (4th) was the start day after having decided to go for 4 hours of sleep plus two 25 minutes of nap-time. This Sunday I started with the naps, one at midnight and one at four am. After I came home from work the following Monday afternoon I was hammered and went for bed to get my 4 hours of sleep. I did oversleep, sadly, and got roughly 5 hours. That meant my planned nap for midnight Monday through Tuesday never happened and I ended up with only one 25 minute nap at four am.

TUESDAY: The workday during Tuesday went better than previous day although I was a little fuzzy and had issues with concentration and there was like this blurry outline of the surrounding environment, like I had a circle around me at about 30 foot radius beyond which I could not clearly see. From moments to moments time seemed to get slower. It was never a big problem, just an observation. Once again when I got home from work I went to bed at four pm to have my 4 hours of sleep. This time I woke early, just having slept for 3 hours and 20 minutes. I did however manage to fall asleep again and get my full 4 hours.

WEDNESDAY: So, night between Tuesday and Wednesday: no midnight nap. However I have had a longer powernap of 40 minutes from 3:30 am. This is a change I did. Instead of going for two 25 minutes I now push for one 40 minute nap. I feels like that is what my body wants. One observation I had this day was lack of orientation of time and day. When I woke from my 4 hours sleep it felt like Wednesday but in reality it was still Tuesday. My energy levels for the day was decent.

THURSDAY: After what I thought of a success with the longer powernap I decided to go for it once again. Wednesday after work I did go to sleep as previous days and later have a 40 minutes nap at 3:30 am. I felt fine throughout the entire Thursday up until sleep time again, when I got home from work at 4 pm. But here’s where it got completely off track. I crashed! I did go for my sleep but I never woke after my 4 hours of sleep.

FRIDAY: Yes I did crash when I went for Thursdays sleep and I woke up Friday evening, at 7 pm and missed my entire workday. I have done this before, sleeping pass an entire workday. This new sleeping schedule was so I could work around it – learn to sleep less and stop getting late for work or as it sometimes goes: miss an entire work day. Now my entire sleep schedule is off track. Again!

WHAT’S NEXT? I honestly have no idea. Sure I could just get back at it. See this as a set back and just keep pushing forward in my attempt to have a better sleeping schedule. I could use the weekend to manage sleep time. Now it’s 11 pm so in theory I can still have my nap at 3:30 and power through Saturday. But yea, I am confused and not sure how to really deal with this whole setback.  I am also confused in the sense of time. I have to think hard on what has happened the past few days, when I did what and hell, even what day it actually is. Everything is kind of a blur, days flow together. It though.

I knew going in to this that first week was going to be hellish. And it have been. From drowsiness to a somewhat functioning mind to messed up perception of time and miss-placing stuff and being just random. I also knew that going in to this I had to power through at least three to four weeks before getting a day with more normal energy levels and solid sleep.

But this huge setback sucks. It kind of blew me back to square one and doing first week again sucks. I’ll be back with updates on this…

Polyphasic Sleep Pattern – Beginning Day 2

Yesterday, or Sunday evening/night to Monday, I decided to give Polyphasic Sleep a try, going with something called Everyman. My sleep will consist of 4 hours sleep and 2 naps of 25 minutes per day.

Yesterday was tough and I was super tired at work and when I got home and to bed, as planned, I fell asleep immediately. The bad thing, I slept for more than my 4 hours so now I have skipped my first nap which was supposed to be at 11:30 pm. (it’s now 1.30 am). I guess this has to do with the rough start of this sleep-system. Today when I get home from work I believe I will be less tired and still fall asleep once back in bed. And I have high hopes that I will manage to sleep my goal of 4 hours this time around.

In a couple of hours I have my second nap for the day before I head off to work.

Check my initial post: Polyphasic Sleep Pattern

Polyphasic Sleep Pattern

Inspirerad by the Polyphasic Sleep Pattern I decided to give it a try starting of Sunday the 4th of Mars, 2018. Due to my work schedule being two shifts, every other week daytime (6 am – 3 pm) and evenings (3 pm – 1 am) I had to modify it slightly. I will go for the 4 hours of bulk sleep with two additional 25 minute naps throughout the day. The problem comes during weekends when I have to switch from day to evening or vice versa.

On this particular starting day I decided to go for a 25 minute nap at 11:30 pm and then another one right before work, at work, at 4:30 am. After I come home from work I will get my 4 hours of sleep and then again a nap at 11:30 pm and once before work as previous. This is how I will sleep throughout the week up until the weekend where I will have to find a decent switch to a week of evening work. Not yet sure how to make that switch.

Basically one could say I am going for a Everyman-version of this: 4 hours of major sleep with 2 naps of 25 minutes each.

Why am I doing this? Sleeping has been a problem for me for a long time and I can’t seem to find a decent pattern going. I either sleep to much or to little and therefore I am always somewhat tired and have trouble getting things done. My hope is that this might be a suitable middle ground for me that can work perfectly for me. If I can find a decent way to make the switch during the weekends.

For now I will call this an experiment but if it turns out to work for me, possibly with some alternations, I might stick to it for the long term. I’ll keep you updated on the progress.

If you have any experience in similar experiments, please do share them with me in the comments below. I am curious and I surly could need some advice on the matter.

Wish me luck?

My So Called Life

I am bored. Constantly. I lack motivation. Still, ideas are endless. The combination makes me frustrated and constantly tired. I once thought I had a clue of how to get back on track – with life – but all attempts have failed. Not even sure if I can call them attempts, more like a vague thought. I end up wasting my time on pointless activities. Even that word “activities” seems like a exaggeration as I simply do nothing other then just sit in my chair, have some music playing or a podcast on for some background noice while I keep thinking about everything.

Nothing really are what I think they should be.

I go on with my so called life – eat, sleep, show up at work, repeat – and for what? Nothing in my daily life gives me pleasure any longer. There’s one exception: writing. Even if writing is my source of happiness – the feeling of accomplishment as the printer kicks up and starts spitting out pages – I tend to not do it more-so than thinking about how I should be writing.

Simplicity must be my goal to strive for.

I do have come to a conclusion though and that is a fairly simple one: if I get rid of all things that distracts me I will have no other choice than to make do with what I have left – keep writing. Such a thing is easier said than done. Or is it? I want a simple carefree life that goes along in a slow pace starting with the rising sun (and not in the afternoon). I can make that almost happen – working shift – with the earliest morning on “late day” at around 9 am. Yes, regular work is an interference with my writing process but IF writing really is that important to me – meaning to life – then I should seriously work extra hard on making that my prime source of work and not just a short momentary burst-of-inspiration-thing and complain about being to tired from working all day.

A day is more hours than a regular nine-to-five day.

If we go back a couple of years to when I bought this MacBook Air I am writing this post on I did that purposely. Not that I needed a new computer but for the one reason: a work machine to help me stay productive. And I should not have any “entertainment” installed on it. I have kept it that way but the problem comes as I have not stopped turning of my old computer which draws an awful lot of attention and makes me head over to YouTube and Facebook and play simple games and waste time on pointless crap. One step in the direction I am looking for is to disconnect my old machine and stove it away. I really don’t need it.

Making life changing decisions are scary. And tough.