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.


Tinesha Sat Sep 12, 08:01:00 AM EDT  

Wow - you are such an engineer - lol. I'm a computer engineer by day but am so not the "average" engineer but I definitely recognize the behavior patterns.

Anonymous Sat Sep 12, 08:27:00 AM EDT  

I really enjoyed what you wrote. I finished my MBA in '06 while completing my second book, "Mama's Lies-Daddy's Pain" and maintaining a Director level job in Corporate America - "time management" was essential.

I smiled when I read about your Gannt Chart (I hadn't seen that term since graduate school) because I should probably use one myself. Now that my publishing company has grown and I am now managing the careers of other authors, my own career, and arguing w/distributors and bookstores, I could use more organization.

You wrote a GREAT piece!! When I grow up I want to be as organized as you. :-)

Brian W. Smith
Hollygrove Publishing

Cherlyn Michaels Sat Sep 12, 09:08:00 AM EDT yes, to know one is to be we are creative, but have a little nerdy side. you little engineer :-)

@Brian...yeah, a lot of these tools i picked up early on and throughout my professional career, and in my MBA program too. i'm finding them to be quite useful in my writing career and future entrepreneuralship goals. :-)

Rose Sat Sep 19, 12:27:00 AM EDT  

Cheryln I can see you now doing your thing with all that organizing and putting the pieces together.

Tracey M. Lewis-Giggetts Fri Oct 02, 01:53:00 PM EDT  

"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."

THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT IT IS. I do that all day and it really does give you a "leg up" depending on what field you're in.

Great post, Cherlyn!

Anonymous Mon Dec 14, 01:49:00 PM EST  

Hey are you a professional journalist? This article is very well written, as compared to most other blogs i saw today….
anyhow thanks for the good read!