The Write Practice and the e-book 14 Prompts that I think the world of, recently wrote a post entitled You Have to Choose . He decided to turn his computer off for one day a week, to focus on his personal life.
To say yes to life, sometimes you have to say no to work. To spend time with your friends and your family, those people who make life meaningful, you have to stop. He ended on the note: Six days a week we write. One day we stop. I challenge you to join us today.
Admirable, but I argued that we don't have to take one day off per week. What we do have to do, however, is recognize when personal time takes priority, but that doesn't have to be one day per week. I respect Joe, but I politely disagree.
If we choose every Sunday, which is the choice of most who work full-time, who says your family or friends are ready, willing and able to spend time with you on that particular day? What if they want you on Saturday? What if they need you on Wednesday?
What if someone needs you when they are off work or out of school but not during the day? What if they go to bed early and you don't?
My point is that flexibility is key for a writer to take time off. I work 40+ hours per week at my job as a writer. Yes, I'm lucky in that regard. I usually touch my computer daily unless I'm on the road, and even then, I'll tap email on my phone or laptop. Why? Because I have clients, readers and fans who appreciate my availability and adherence to deadlines.
I enjoy my work. Heck, I'm thrilled about my career. My family appreciates the fact I'm working a job that compliments my personality (and attitude). I'll get up on Sundays, and my husband will say, "Remember to moderate today!" I'm a moderator for the Sisters in Crime listgroup, and Sunday is my assigned day. Some afternoons, as I head to my computer, he'll ask, "What are you working on tonight?" or "What chapter are you editing tonight?" or "Get your newsletters out today?" I really appreciate that. He knows what I do and respects it. He tends to brag. So do my sons.
Note that I said "night" several times. We can work 40 hours per week and do it at our leisure, or when we have the best chunk of time. I'm a night owl and hate mornings. So I work in the afternoons, evenings, and up to two or three AM. I have that option. In the spring, when the yard needs weeding and the garden planted, I especially enjoy working nights. In the summer, when I can appreciate my lake with family and bask in the bright sunshine, I also enjoy working nights. In the winter, when the chickens need closer attention, I can address their needs in warmer noon day sun.
Flexibility is so key in this profession. If I decide to go to dinner with a neighbor or see a movie with my husband or attend a writers' conference, I make adjustments. Seeing family and friends at night might mean rising a little earlier or working a double shift another day to make time. Going out of town means a week of double time to buy three or four days of liberty.
I did the eight-to-five thing for years, dreaming of this day when I freelance. However, the diligence I then owned to work a forty-hour week still applies. Some folks tend to let the hours melt away if given such latitude and no parameters. That's another topic for another day. You still have to possess the perseverance to meet your deadlines. But the last thing I want to do as a freelancer is to adhere to the same schedule I had as a bureaucrat. Yes, family still comes first, but now I have the luxury of giving my time to them as they need it, seven days a week.