My day job involves working with numbers. It also involves traveling all over Scotland to deliver training to teachers in a numeracy programme for primary school children. The nature of my job means that I have to squeeze most of these training sessions into the tight calendar of in-service days for schools and the result is that last week I drove 810 miles, stayed away from home for 4 nights, visited 5 schools and delivered a PowerPoint presentation of 400 slides to 269 teachers.
The week’s highlights included having a humungous spot on my nose that made me feel like a unicorn (not a great look with 87 folk staring at you), being woken up at 3am by a screaming fire alarm and ending up standing shivering in howling winds outside the Premier Inn in Ayr (thankfully I had on my newest jammies however my make-up free face must have terrified the other guests), tripping and hurting my knee to end up face down on a school gym hall floor (my wounded pride much sorer than my scabby knee), my laptop falling off a table causing my ‘clicker’ to break and the Blue Screen of Death appearing several times (my heart rate required beta blockers to calm down), a white knuckle drive home from Aberdeen through a blizzard in the dark, driving back up to Aberdeen days later but having to stop after 10 miles as my wipers were gubbed and await my hubby’s arrival to swap cars (he’s my fourth emergency service).
And yet for all the traumas of life on the road, to receive comments like “feeling inspired” written on the delegates’ evaluation forms gives me job satisfaction. But to achieve ‘excellent’ scores for my delivery, I use up hunners of energy on every level. It’s a bit like being a stand-up comedian but instead of your act being twenty minutes, you’ve to keep an audience (not all of whom have chosen to attend) entertained for the whole day – not easy when the topic is maths.
By the end of a day ‘performing’ and keeping large groups informed and interested in mathematical concepts, I’m like a washed out dish rag. This might explain why I’m unable to write a single word during these intense periods.
I used to beat myself up about trying to write every day, telling myself that if I was a real writer, then I’d find the time but my wee brain is mince by the end of a training day and doesn’t have the capacity to jump from numbers to words. And I don’t mind admitting to reading tweets when cooped up in a soulless purple box and feeling a stab of envy that other writers, lots of them unpublished like me, have spent their day doing research for their novel, polishing a short story or tweaking the plot of their novel. It’s frustrating, especially when I feel like I’ve no time to dabble in writing short stories as I’m STILL editing my current novel, never mind pursue the idea I have for my next novel.
Often, it feels as if I’ve been trying to achieve my writing dream FOREVER and at this rate I’ll have retired and won’t have to worry about juggling the day job!
As a writer, how do you get the work/life balance right? Do you force yourself to write every day no matter how tired you are or where you are? All tips welcome!