Tuesday, September 2, 2008

When Life Gets in the Way

Many writers long to quit their day jobs and write fulltime. Sometimes I'm one of them but often I struggle with whether or not this would really suit me and the way I live. I like my job and the security it brings as well as the medical and retirement benefits. To write fulltime right now I'd take a huge paycut that I can't afford.

Even though I like my job it's a demanding one and most of the time when I go home at the end of the day I'm tired and I just want to relax and veg in front of the TV. Not very thought provoking or stimulating but that's the point. I like to get lost in the world of dialogue, character development and plotting techniques from shows that I really enjoy such as Dexter, The Closer, In Plain Sight, Criminal Minds, just to mention a few.

I aslo have a running and yoga workout schedule that I committed to for a variety of reasons. I'm running the Chicago half-marathon in less than two weeks. I ran it for the first time in 2006 - this will be my second half-marathon, having skipped the one last year. The yoga? Well, that's for general and mental health. I made a commitment to yoga for the rest of my life and I'm so glad that I did. I've dabbled in yoga on and off over the years but this time it's as much a part of my day as eating the right foods, taking my vitamins and getting a good sleep at night.

I can't recommend yoga enough for everyone and definitely for writers. I've accomplished more in my writing schedule because yoga is a part of my life. I've learned to stretch myself in more ways than I thought possible - both literally and figuratively.

So where's my commitment to my writing? Believe it or not I do most of my writing these days on the train commuting to and from work. Having grown up and attended college in Los Angeles back in the 1960's and 70's I have to say how wonderful it is to be able to commute by train. Even when some poor fool decides to committ suicide by train and delay us for up to 4 hours, I'm still glad to have the commuter train available.

I get on the train, pop open my laptop, put on my head phones and immerse myself in my writing. When I mention this to folks their immediate response is there isn't enough time to write on a commute that is essentially 40 minutes each way on the train. I disagree. A paragraph here, a page there all adds up and I'm ecstatic with my progress everyday. I do work on my writing at home but that's icing on the cake because at home I'm either vegging out after a long day, running, in yoga class or doing house chores. By compartmentalizing my writing on the train I actually write and achieve so much more.

Those shows I mentioned in the beginning of the blog - watch Dexter on DVD without commercials - it's so much better than what they're airing on the non-cable channels because they had to cut some material to make it more accessible to the network. Dexter is a Showtime program that was licensed to the networks around the time of the writers strike in Hollywood - or so it seems. It's a strong program in terms of writing, character development, plotting, and social commentary. The blood splatter and forensic aspect of it may be a turnoff for some people but I just think this program is outstanding in all the ways mentioned. Kudos to all the writers and people who work on the program.

In the end I try not to let my life prevent me from writing but also I try not to let my writing keep me from enjoying my life. It's nice to have balance although some would say I'm off-balance for enjoying Dexter but then again, I've had a long-time fascination with the Jack The Ripper case. Oops, maybe I've revealed too much!


Norm Cowie said...

I have a pretty strenuous diet too. It's the cheesy, cheesy popcorn and second bowl of ice cream diet.

My arteries are screaming, but everything else seems to be enjoying the run.

Romance Readers Digest said...

Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Sometimes I still wear the T-shirt, unfortunately.

Morgan Mandel said...

I'm also a train writer, but Terri and I aren't on the same train. Just as well or we'd be tempted to talk instead of writing.

Morgan Mandel