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msknight

Michelle's corner

Michelle Knight. Writer, photographer, programmer, truck driver and general, all round nut case. Life is a journey and that's what this blog will probably end up being. Let's see where we go, eh? ;-)

Currently reading

The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter
Greg Toppo
Progress: 114/256 pages

Writing and work - Part 1

For many of us aspiring authors, that's exactly what we'll remain. Aspiring. To what? Who knows. More fame than an American 80's TV series about a school for the performing arts, the name of which escapes me at the moment? A bank account fatter than the banker in, "Despicable Me?"

The chances are that most of us won't escape the day job. However, the trick is how we meld writing in with a work market which is changing under our feet.

How do you judge success? Dame Barbara Cartland still holds the Guinness Word Record for the most novels in a single year, which was 23. There is a report of an Indonesian writer who is said to have published 30, but you could start arguing the toss over semantics. How long were the novels? When were they written, as opposed to published? In theory someone could have written for ten years and then published them all at the same time.

Success, for me, is getting a book out of the door, that has at least had a positive reception from the beta readers, and has been re-worked until I'm sick of reading it.

But how does all this meld with the work place?

There are two workforce definitions coming out of the American work place. One is the Millennial who follow on from the second; Generation X, or Baby Boomers.

As far as work is concerned, it encompasses two different philosophies. For X, it has been turn up for work at 9, sit at your desk until 5:30 and then go home. For Millennial, it is far more flexible. There are benefits and drawbacks to each approach.

Bums on seats is easier for management; however it isn't always as easy for them to keep a check on what you're doing. Flexible time, however, is where the manager has to keep a track on your goals instead. The former does have advantages in terms that if you can't do your job within the specified time limit, then you have a reasonable gauge for over work. In a place where time isn't so easy to judge then it is more difficult to argue your position of being overloaded and could find your work-life balance wrecked.

I've been working the Millennial lifestyle for a fair chunk of my career. I.T. work is sometimes best outside normal hours when no one is using the systems. It is easier to talk with other engineers outside office hours because there aren't so many interruptions, so in-depth technical discussions are smoother. Time zone differences mean that some workers have to bend.

To a degree, flexi-time has been a bonus in work places; I can get down to the sandwich shop at 11:30, before the serious queue starts at 12. Makes the most of my time because I'm in and out, rather than being stuck in a queue. So there are swings and roundabouts to this way of working. Also, the ability to work from home saves a commute, which can really help recovery and morale.

Realistically, few of us will actually be living the Millennial lifestyle. Regardless of the time we were born, things like retail jobs and warehouse/shift work will still retain a rigid structure because we have to be present for interaction with others.

In these instances, notebooks and e-mail help. If I'm at work and an idea pops in to my head, I'll fire off a quick e-mail to home. It gets the idea out of my system and I don't have to worry about it; I can carry on focusing on work. The reverse also happens; I'll be at home and have a thought about work, so I'll fire off an e-mail to work and then I can forget about it.

A small notebook lives in my handbag. Ideas get jotted down within a minute or two. I've tried technology, but it just isn't as quick as a pen and paper, and you can guarantee that when I need the tablet, it's out of power.

I commute by road, so I don't have the luxury of tapping away at a keyboard on a train. For that, there is a dictaphone in my jacket pocket. Quick, responsive and easy to operate, I can get a wayward thought out of my head and then I can forget about it and concentrate on the driving again.

So that's part one. Getting the ideas in to the right place, so that they can be tackled at the right time.