One of my many flaws is that I concentrate too much on my work. This isn’t a recent development, either. When I used to golf, as long as I didn’t get any email or a call that came in that I had to focus on, my game was fine. But as soon as I had to deal with work, my golf game suffered severely. It would frustrate and upset me to no end. But, since I was golfing during the morning work hours quite a bit, it was the reality of golfing.
Now that I’m writing every day, this is one of the primary reasons I get up so early and do my writing before I do anything for my day job. If my work interrupts me, it takes all of my focus away. I have plenty of time during the day to steal a few minutes here and there to write, but I can’t seem to steal my focus away from my work. My mind latches onto work and starts to go through a series of “what if” scenarios that never seem to leave me.
Similarly, if I’m doing my morning litter box duty, where I mine for ideas daily if my mind happens to drift towards work for the day, my creative self is completely shut down. At that point, I get frustrated and lose all creative energy. I haven’t figured out a way to combat this issue outside of trying to force my mind to not think about work. Sometimes it works, others, I lose the battle and can’t seem to get a single idea out.
This stems from a lifetime of making work my #1 priority. I haven’t been able to shift my energy from work to writing. I need to convince myself that writing is more important than my work. And it is. It’s my future work. It’s what will allow me to have complete freedom from working for corporations, at least in the current sense. I’m in sales now, and I manage a team of people. I generate revenue for the companies I work for, and I’m pretty good at that job. This will be very helpful later in life when I turn my sales skills towards my own “products.” I’m constantly thinking about how I can do better, how I can help my team focus on an area that we may have missed. But how do I turn that energy towards my writing?
The business of writing and selling writing is inherently more difficult than selling software. For me, the challenge is the personal nature of any product I produce. As writers, we tend to put our emotions and personality in our writing, so rejection is personal. When I sell software, especially software that I haven’t written, it’s not a personal affront if someone isn’t interested. But each person who doesn’t like my articles seems to chip away at my soul. A view without a like makes me question my writing. What did I miss that made that person not like the writing? Where did I go wrong, and how can I do better? It’s an obsession with something I’ve created, but that obsession is in me because it’s with that same energy that I challenge my day job with questions of how we can be better. It’s probably a mental illness.
My biggest flaw could be my savior once I have something to sell. My challenge will be that I’ll have to completely believe in my project. If I try to hock a piece of writing that I know isn’t my best work, I won’t be able to put my full effort into selling it. I have to believe in what I sell, I know that much. When I’ve worked for companies with inferior products, I’ve stayed away from those specific products because at some point, selling is putting your own reputation on the line, and I don’t want to have unhappy customers. That’s not the way to success. Repeat business is a good thing, and as I move forward, it seems to me that repeat customers will be the ticket to staying power rather than hit and run customers. I’d love to sell, but I’d rather have fans who look forward to my creations. That excites me more.
The challenge I face right now is that I’m getting ahead of myself. I don’t really have anything of substance to sell. I have an ebook that I’m working on that I will give away in exchange for email addresses. It’s my list-building content. But its focus is on other writers, not fiction fans. The more I write, the more I want to create fiction rather than non-fiction, so my initial target may be off, even a bit of a bait and switch, which bothers me a little. I may need to start working on some short fiction to offer up that as well to my budding list of 10 people.
I had a great idea for my novel that came out of my recent experiences. It sprouted somewhere between current events and reading Stephen King’s On Writing. It will really change the novel into something much more powerful than I had initially envisioned, but it will also allow me to get my point across in a way that is more personal than where I was going with the work previously.
I’m eager to get working on that, I’ve had the idea floating around in my head for some time now, and I have about 12,000 words written. Only a fraction of what I need for a full story, but I have a good start and a solid direction I want the story to go towards now. Now, I just need to obsess over the idea and get some writing time to focus on writing the story instead of blog ideas and the day job. All good things come to those who wait, eh? More like all good things come to those who work hard and don’t have any expectations, I say.
That’s my goal. Work, work, work, and try not to focus on the day job until work hours. It’s a constant struggle, but one that is key to my success going forward. I can’t wait until I can use that energy on my own work.
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6 thoughts on “I Suck When I Think About Work”
“If my work interrupts me, it takes all of my focus away. I have plenty of time during the day to steal a few minutes here and there to write, but I can’t seem to steal my focus away from my work. My mind latches onto work and starts to go through a series of “what if” scenarios that never seem to leave me.”
It is exactly for me like that as well. Call it energy, call it psychology – there is something about this … flow we are in when doing a certain kind of work that affects our mental readiness to shift to something else. Also the working space. I have a home office, but during the day when I work I never write. I have some time, sure. I could take some more time, sure. But I feel more energized at 11 PM (well, not always) when the toddler is asleep and the apartment is quiet and there is nothing more I have to do. I am truly tired and only able to write and blog (and draw, if I want to) for maybe 30 minutes but then it feels much easier. The time, the space and the, well, work-flow is set to something different and it is as if my body knows it. Or something. I wouldn’t call it a fool-proof way to get some writing done or other creativity, but I have certainly given up doing it during normal work-hours. If I am to do that I need to forego the potential clients and take a whole day off and go somewhere else, like the Royal Library.
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I used to do all my creative work at night, but when I did my Master’s several years ago, I found that I just didn’t have the energy at night as I did when I was younger. That’s when I started getting up a little earlier and working before the day job. But no matter when you do it, you’re right, it’s the interruption to flow that kills me. I do have one place that I do all my work from now – I haven’t used my office in more than a year now – I sit with my hated MacBook Pro at the kitchen table and write and take phone calls, etc. It’s worked so well I’m afraid to move back into my office.
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I was also better at night work at 25 than 45 but in the morning it’s a block for me that the family will get up soon. Evenings I usually have a bit more security there’ll be no disturbances once they are asleep. What software do you sell btw?
I understand that – my wife is also a total morning person, so to get more in sync with her, I’ve caved. I sell document imaging software – helping companies convert paper to electronic form – been doing that for 25 years now with various companies.
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Websites and webshops here – and consulting on how to prioritize these investments vs. your core business, marketing and administration. Small business are my primary customer group because they have to do everything themselves, usually – maybe only with a few overtaxed employees. I can imagine the document imaging software is still quite good business. Your customers are likely larger than mine but if it is any indication how much paper my customers have in messy backrooms and offices, I’d say medium- to larger sized firms probably have a larger, well, challenge here. Thanks for sharing that bit. It’s nice to get to know a bit more about what the people I follow do, aside from blogging 🙂
It is, thanks. Yeah, I’ve always wanted to build a version of what I do for the more common business and even home user. This industry used to just be electronic file cabinet-type stuff, but now it’s all about process automation, which translates into dollars for larger companies. It’s never boring, that’s for sure.
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