Saturday, September 12, 2009

Integration Has Its Benefits

It seems to be a fact that most writers have, and may continue to have, a day job in order to pay the bills while they do the thing that they love most. We straddle two (or rather, multiple) worlds. A world of doing what we have to do to survive physically, so that we can do what we need to do to survive creatively or spiritually. For the most part, these two worlds can remain separate. They can be as different as night and day, and as an immiscible emulsion of oil and water. But blending these two worlds can be a benefit. Taking the tools of one world and applying it to the other can be like being ambidextrous: skillfully, and advantageously, using the skills of your day job to aid your creative side, and vice versa.

So, we're in the organizing and planning phase of the writing project. I'm noticing how I'm naturally bringing in and using the tools of my day job as an engineer to add structure to my work as a writer. And it's so helpful. I am by nature a planner. In anything, I like to think things through and formalize a viewable path so that I can see where I'm going and create a way to do it even more efficiently. To do this with the writing project, I started my a set of questions for my client. Not directly about the story, but about her. I need to understand her before I can write her story.

In the meantime, I took tools from my job as an engineer. Creating a Gantt Chart for the project helps me to see the entire schedule in time format. I can visually see what needs to be done by when, and even look for ways to cut out wasted time. Developing a time sheet of some sort, also help as well. Here, I'm logging how much I work daily and weekly, and exactly what I'm doing. In addition to helping me to work efficiently, it also shows me how much time is necessary for each component, in case I decide to do this again.

Of course, this integration can work in the opposite direction, as being a writer can be of benefit in writing business communications. Sometimes you need to be concise and direct, other times thorough, or persuasive. The ability to know what type of communication that needs to be made and to be able to deliver it is where the side passion and fuel the day job.

Call it being efficient or call it being anal. The worlds of survival and passion can actually integrate and be beneficial to both.


Thursday, September 03, 2009


You know you're in a good place when it feels like the ground beneath you feet crumble with each step you take, rain falls on your lenses and fog covers them every time you wipe it away, or when obstacles appear out of nowhere...and through all of this, you feel at peace. Ever have a day or a period of time when incident after incident happens...things that should bring you down and make you frustrated...things that takes more time than you have or cost more money that you want to spend...and somehow, you remain in good spirits? It's like, despite the dark clouds, you focus on the sunlight that peeks and pokes through, providing warm rays for you to bask in. And you do.

That's where I am today. The last couple of days, small things have happened that made me feel frustrated for a split second. It seems like it started with a blow out on my way to work, then small frustrating things at work, then my phone goes on the blink, and now, the car needs more repair work than originally thought, and this will cause a delay in my road trip for the weekend.

Normally, this would bring me down. Make me feel sad and frustrated and ruining my whole days. But no, through all of this, I feel at peace. I'm feeling an "and this too shall pass" moment. My spirits remain high and I feel relaxed. I'm feeling like these small incidences are nothing compared to trials that others have in their lives. Cars can be fixed or a new one can be purchased. Meanwhile, I have a job, plus, I can do what I love (writing). I'm living and breathing. I'm not in want of anything. I am blessed.

So, amidst the calamity all around me, I realize that it's not calamity at all, but a part of living. And my focus doesn't dwell on it, but moves beyond it to the goals I have to complete and how to get them done despite any obstacles.