Like many writers, I have a day job (I’m a college professor), and like many people—writers and others—at first I had a hard time drawing a line between work and home. Early on, I decided that home is home and work is work, and never the twain shall meet. I determined never to bring work home. When I had children, this became especially important. I may be at work a lot of the day, I decided, but when I’m home, I’m home.
This division worked just fine until I started writing. Was writing something I did at home, or something I did at the office? It’s work, but it’s not university work. It didn’t make sense for me to stay at the office any longer than I already did, especially while my kids were small, so I carved out a home office. I took over a side of our guest room and set up a computer, a bookcase, and my great find, one of those office mailbox things turned on its side, for storage. I expanded my decision never to bring work home to include never writing at my day job.
|Office mailbox thing (what are these called, anyway?)|
It's worked well—maybe too well. If I turn out to have a spare hour at work and decide to revise a chapter I’ve written the day before, or get to work on a new writing idea, I find that I can’t do it. I’ve trained myself too well that writing is something I do out of the university office.
|The Jack Russell Terrorists|
I can't write with anyone else in the room. Well, except for these two, whose excuse is that they can't read the "KEEP OUT" sign on the door.
Soon my division of labor space will be in the past, though. I’ve turned in notice at work, and in May of 2012 I’ll officially become a full-time writer—or a full-time self-publicist, I guess, since promotion takes up more and more of the average writer’s time. I’m blogging about my last year of having a day job, along with thoughts on pre-planning, at Goodbye, Day Job! I’d love to hear from any of you who have done the same or are contemplating it.