Now that Cowgirls Don’t Ride Zebras is out and available for people to get their hands on, I’ve started shifting back towards the three playwriting projects I have on my docket. I’m having to relearn what it’s like to start a new play. In a way, each play’s process is different, but, having been immersed in my artwork and illustrations for Cowgirls for so long, my playwriting is like a muscle that’s been out of exercise. I’m rebuilding from sense memory. However, I’m also trying to make the process better. There are some differences in my life as well, so I’m having to navigate those. I’m not just trying to relearn how to write a play, but figure out how I write a play, when do I write, and what tools do I use?
Have any of you seen that meme going around that says, “You have the same number of hours in the day as Lin-Manuel Miranda”? Some people get inspired by something like that. I don’t. It’s totally infuriating and sets an unrealistic standard. Yes, I have the same number of hours in the day as Lin-Manuel Miranda (like 24?), but I certainly don’t have the same number of hours for creative work as he does. There’s this great infographic from the site, Info We Trust, that displays a color-coded breakdown of how various poets, scientists, novelists, and composers structured their days. They have colors for “meals and social,” “Primary Work,” and “Making Ends Meet.” Very few of the creatives listed have segments of “Making Ends Meet.” Their “Primary Work” is what makes ends meet. Lucky ducks. Seriously, it amazing to see.
What I consider my primary work, playwriting, does not make ends meet. My skills, literally, do not pay the bills. So, like many others, I have a day job. It’s a day job I enjoy greatly; it’s exceedingly better than my retail day job I used to have. However, I’m having to learn how to write in the time afforded me. As stressful as my retail job was, my schedule was all over the place, but I’d randomly have time to write. For example, maybe some days I’d work at 12 pm. I’d drop off Jack at daycare at 9 am and have the morning to write. Or, I’d work at the day job on the weekend and have a random weekday to spend at a coffee shop to write. I’d have blocks of uninterrupted time. That was good. But also stressful. Very stressful.
Now, my day job is a consistent schedule. Yay! I work from 8 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Easy. Consistent. But I don’t have the random blocks of time. There are no random mornings off. If I have a weekday off, it’s because there’s a holiday and my family is home with me. I don’t have “writing days” anymore. I lived on writing days. They were my days to catch up from all the days I was exhausted from working retail. But now, every day can be a writing day. It’s about finding the structure that works best for me in a daily routine that’s consistent.
I’m learning how this works. I’m learning what a weekend at home with the family looks like. I’m learning what being an evening writer instead of a morning writer is like. I’m learning that I prefer herbal tea while writing rather than coffee... What? When did that happen? *Sip* Ah...
Here’s what my days look like now. What about you? How are you finding time to do your “Primary Work” when you have to make ends meet?
Take care and now, more than ever, be excellent to each other.