Thursday 27 August 2015

Work / Life balance – all hail the perfect day job for a writer

I am so lucky. There is only one aspect to my day job that I dislike and even that’s not too bad because actually, although there’s more of it than there should be, it’s what they pay me for and in fact they also pay me to do things I’d do even if I wasn’t paid.
I’m currently on a writer’s retreat. I’ve chosen to take leave for this, just so that I won’t feel obliged to look at my work email. Technically, writing is part of the day job. Most of my writing is speculative, so I’m never sure whether I’ll be paid for it. So, I consider that part of my salary from the university comes as a retainer; they’re in effect saying, use some of our time to develop your craft, reflect on it, improve and pass on your knowledge to others.

The dreaded admin

It’s not so bad, actually. Especially if I actually  remember they’re paying me to do this. It’s supposed to take up about 18% of my time but it’s probably taking up more like about 40% of a nominal 37.5 hour working week. I get the 40% anyway from a 40 hour week.

Vocation not job

That’s the thing, though isn’t? Academics and writers have a vocation, not a job. Recently I had to produce a five year research plan. My writing is my research, though I also write some critical papers and some critically reflective essays. Two thirds of my “research” is my creative output. The rest is the more critical material. As part of this exercise, I worked out that I write for about 666 hours a year. Yes, scary number. Certainly though I don’t get that all into the .2 of the working week we’re all allowed for research  
It doesn’t stop there, though does it?
Writers do more than just write. Reading, going to the theatre, watching TV, talking to other writers, people-watching and just being are all writerly activities.
Dare I say if I’m breathing I’m researching? That relaxation, eating and exercise just keep me fit enough to carry on writing?    
Nice work if you can get it.     

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