Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

Tonight is one of those nights. You know the ones, where everything seems to go wrong and it all gets in the way of writing. It would be easy on a night such as this to just throw in the towel and decide that I will make up this blog post tomorrow. On a night like tonight that would be a very easy thing to do.
I work from home, I'm a Technical Project Manager, and tonight that means that I get to stare down some of the most stubborn servers ever made. I'm currently watching the image of the world firing off little bits of paper at an overwhelmingly large folder. It's been like this for over an hour and I imagine I still have a ways to go before my night is through. I was supposed to be off work two hours ago but when you work from home there's really no escape from it. It haunts you like a bad dream, there's no drive home to cool your nerves, there's no logical separation.
Don't get me wrong, I know I've got it pretty good. I'm not spending ten dollars a gallon for gas, I'm not exactly stuck in a cubicle all day, but on nights like tonight it's my writing that suffers. Actually, it's been a rough week.
Last night I took some time to type up part of a draft of the novel I've been working on. I submitted it for consideration to join a new writer's group forming in the area. With my mind so bogged down by work this week, I didn't even realize I hadn't proof-read my 800-some-odd word sample. Luckily I was rewarded with an email this evening accepting me into the group despite my literary mistakes. It was so refreshing to know that I've finally found a writing group! Working in a technical atmosphere for so long I've often felt very isolated from other writers. It will be so nice to share ideas with other people who view language as an art.
It's important, however, to learn a lesson from the situation. To be a writer you must write, even when you don't feel like you have a moment to spare, but when it comes to deadlines and submitting your work on short notice you must make sure you read and re-read over your submission. Never forget that you are putting your best foot forward and your writing should be in top form when you send it out to represent who you are and what you bring to the table. When we are tired our brain becomes even more lazy. It can easily read over a mistyped word or fail to catch it's when you meant its. It's easy to pass over tense switching and other mistakes that would only take a moment to catch otherwise. My best suggestion when you are on the wire to get something out and your mind is tired is to take a few moments before sending and do something else. Turn your mind back to your work or go to the bathroom. After your break sit down and re-read what you've written. This separation will force your brain into paying a little closer attention. If that just doesn't seem to work, I always find it helpful to print out what I'm looking at and then I go over it with a pen, marking up any mistakes or repeat words I might see.

Remember, it's important to write and it's important to meet deadlines whether they are someone else's or your own, but it's also important that you always put your best foot forward.

Writing Exercise:

1 comment:

Duluk said...

I suppose I could put the comment here as anywhere; I've enjoyed reading some of your posts about the struggles of working full-time in a field other than writing while still trying to find time to write.

I'm with you on the former (actually same field too, I'm an Application Support Analyst for a trading platform written for Linux boxes); I work into the early evening, then go home to my wife and two kids.

But I'm suffering on the latter, the actual finding time to write part. I've mostly written poetry, but have wanted to attempt more fiction. Hasn't been working, too tired by the time the kids are asleep (since when I do get home I want to spend time with my family). So I've been keeping a writing journal of sorts...but it's a spur-of-the-moment stream-of-consciousness silliness journal; not a structured story. Completely different. :)

Anyway, all that to say I've enjoyed reading your posts. It's been motivating.