Monday, April 16, 2012

An Update on the Schedule Change

This is what we're trying to avoid.
Photo by Stuart Miles

As you may recall, I was working on trying to shift my hours to take advantage of those morning hours that I prefer to sleep through.  Since it's been a week, I thought I'd post an update.

Last week was spring break, so my thought was that I would kind of "ease into it."  It worked pretty well.  I was working by 9 am every morning, so that's an hour improvement right there.  I definitely felt more productive throughout the week, so I'm pleased with that.

Today was going to be the more difficult day.  I was going to be up by 6:30, sending my kid out the door by 7:30 and working by 8.  Wellll.... it's 9 am and I'm writing so it's not as bad as it was before.  But I found myself stomping off to go lie down a little longer at 7:30 rather than heading into the kitchen to start my coffee.

I see some success and I can identify the obstacles, so maybe I can still make this work.

First off, I'm working at 9 instead of 10, so that's still a victory, even if it's a small one.  Just like any other behavioral change plan, you have to celebrate the small successes, so yay me! (haha)  Secondly, I went to bed waaaaaay too late last night.  Then once I got to bed, I had a really hard time getting to sleep.  While I don't know of any way to force myself to go to sleep (at least any that I'm willing to try), I do need to work on getting to bed earlier.

Tomorrow I have to be up early because I have an IEP meeting for my son scheduled for 7:30 am.  Yuck.  It's not going to be a productive day in general though... too many appointments.  But hopefully it will help with the overall schedule reset.  I'll update in another week and we'll see where I'm at.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I Don't Get No Respect

Seriously.  This is not what I do all day.
Photo by graur codrin

What do people see when you tell them you are a writer?

Option 1:  You in your pajamas and fuzzy bunny slippers at 2 in the afternoon, sitting at your desk and playing solitaire.

Option 2:  You in your pajamas and fuzzy bunny slippers at 2 in the afternoon, sitting on your couch and watching reruns of Judge Judy.

Option 3:  You in your pajamas and fuzzy bunny slippers at 2 in the afternoon, lying in your bed and taking your second nap of the day.

What exactly is it that we do?  Does anyone know?

If writing is your full time occupation, are you somehow lazier than your counterparts who get up and drive into the city wearing high heels or a tie?  Does planting butt in chair and allowing words to stream from your brain into your fingers, regardless of whether they are fictional or researched, make your work less serious?  Is it playtime, all the time, when you write?

I know it isn't for me.  It's been almost a year since I looked at my options and decided that making a go of freelance writing was the best decision.  I don't regret that.  But I wonder how I'm seen through the eyes of the people who know me.

I work hard most days.  My daily schedule is filled in from morning until about 9 pm.  I write in my breaks.  Just because my work is flexible doesn't mean it's less important.  I've come a long way in the last twelve months.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Get Up or Sleep In?

Prepping to do battle with my mortal enemy... my alarm clock.
Photo by Keattikorn

This is one of those eternal debates where everyone has chosen a side and no amount of persuasion will ever convince you to change.  Right?

Then why am I finding myself on the fence?

I've always been a late riser.  Happiness is sleeping in past 9.  But I feel like I should be getting so much more done during the day, so I've been giving those hours before 9 the hairy eyeball, trying to decide if I want to reclaim them or not.

This should be an easy decision!

Let me walk you through a typical workday:

6:20 am  Alarm starts going off.  I begin slapping the snooze button.
6:40 am  I relent, groan, roll out of bed and pull on my sweats.  I stagger down the hallway to drag my son from his bed so he can get ready for school.
6:50 am  I check my email, bleary-eyed, while my son gets ready for school.  I'm mostly on autopilot, but I am alert enough to make sure he's getting himself ready and hand out reminders as necessary.  If my daughter gets up, I send her back to bed.
7:15 am  Elias leaves for the bus stop, and I stagger back to bed.
8:30 am  My daughter begins pestering me.  I roll over and she either climbs into bed and snuggles or heads back to her own room.
9:30 am  The pestering wins out and I drag my sorry self from bed, once again feeling guilty for sleeping so long and wondering whether I could possibly handle getting up earlier.  I fix breakfast for myself and Maddie, get her hooked up with her favorite show, read email and Facebook while I eat, then start my workday at 10 am.

I could be doing a lot more with those hours in between.  Or could I?  Do I actually have it in me?  Or would I just stare at the screen for two hours waiting for my brain to wake up?

I've read plenty on resetting your circadian rhythm and whatnot.  After all, I used to work a job where I had to be in seat doing productive things by 7:30 every morning.

So how valuable is that sleep time?  The main question is -- is it more valuable than the work I could be doing during that time? 

Next week I'll experiment with getting up a bit earlier.  It's spring break for the kiddo, so I won't be getting up quite so early, so maybe it will be a way to gradually ease into it.  I'll report back on my success (or lack thereof).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Why I Don't Outsource Transcription

Photo by Brandon Sigma

As you may have noticed, I love interviews.  I don't love the transcription process quite as much, though.  It can be incredibly time consuming and monotonous.  Transcribing an interview is one of the times that writing really feels like work.

Some time ago, I was involved in a discussion on a writer's board about the value of transcribing interviews.  I just won't do it.  Why?  If transcription is such a nuisance, why don't I just outsource it and carry on with my writing?

Here's my main reasons:

1.  I'm seriously cheap.

Quality transcription is expensive.  At this point in my writing career, I just can't afford it.  Period.  But I think that even if I could afford it, I still wouldn't.  I don't want to spend money paying someone else to do something I can do myself.

2.  It's a great way to review the subject.

Listening to the interview again as I transcribe keeps the information fresh in my mind.  It also helps me find little nuggets of wisdom that I might have missed the first time.  I can use the time to really think about what quotes I want to include and how to incorporate the interview into my finished piece.

3.  I'm kind of paranoid about transcription.

In a previous job incarnation, I had to rely on transcribed pieces to do my job.  I was horrified at how many errors I found.  While sometimes the errors were funny, sometimes they were scary, since doctors also relied on these transcriptions, which were a part of the patient's permanent medical record.  The doctors were supposed to review the transcriptions before they approved them, but it didn't appear to happen very often.  Some of the scary mistakes I found were centered around doses that sounded similar, but could potentially kill.  For example, a common error was 15 vs. 50.  Said out loud they do sound alike.  But when the patient's normal dose of insulin is 15 units, a 50 unit dose could do some real damage.

While my articles aren't likely to kill or maim anyone (I hope!), I still want my information to be accurate.  I don't want to misquote anyone or state a false statistic.