On learning and writing and more writing

Somehow, it’s been three months since I started a new full-time role in which I commute into NYC once a week. And I’ve learned a thing or two:

  1. There is no feeling quite like the feeling of swiping your Metro card and seeing your train pull up to the platform as if the subway gods had summoned it there exactly in time with your arrival.
  2. NYC coffee shops—even if only patronized one day a week—will ruin you for the rest of the week. No other coffee will compare, and you will start to fear that you are becoming a coffee snob. (You are. Just lean into it. There are worse things.)
  3. If you are over the age of 23, you cannot walk around NYC for miles on end in $10 shoes from Target. Don’t be a hero. Just accept the fact that you are old now and invest in something with good arch support.
  4. Restrooms on Amtrak trains are where noses go to die. If you urgently need to use one, it’s best to channel your six-year-old self and see how long you can hold your breath without exploding. It’s also wise to steer clear of the seating options located near the restroom. Your nose will die there, too.
  5. You know what you can’t really do when you work by yourself? Laugh at a funny GIF you send yourself because you are your only co-worker. There’s something to be said for the freedom of freelancing. There’s also something to be said for the joy of working with a team of people you genuinely love.

Let’s just call that the quick list, since I’ve also learned about saying yes and time management and being for something. And, you know, about 100,000 actual job-related things.

But I’m still waiting to learn an essential thing.

I don’t know how to have a full-time job that is writing and also keep showing up for my own writing—here or anywhere.

This is not a new problem. I didn’t know how to do it the last time I had a full-time job that was writing. I only sort of knew how to do it when my full-ish time job was freelancing as a writer. And I don’t know how to do it now.

The seven hours I spend on the train every Tuesday is still a viable writing option. This post is coming to you live from my train back to Harrisburg at 9pm on Tuesday night. But let’s call a spade a spade: I’ve been up since 4am and spent the day writing and talking and public transportation-ing. It was all very lovely. And now I’m very tired.

What is happening right now is not writing as much as it is the crumbs that have fallen from the table of my fully-functioning self—which isn’t always a bad thing. Tired-writing leads to more honesty and less filter, and I’m all for that. What I’m less for is a) feeling like I have nothing to say because I haven’t really devoted any time to thinking or reflecting, and b) offering a half-baked version of something I’ve only sort of thought about because I have no idea when else I can be thinking/reflecting/writing something other than this first draft.

This is a solvable problem. I just don’t know how to solve it yet.

I’m sure it involves some of the obvious answers, like discipline and prioritization and building endurance over time. But I’m also going to give myself a tiny bit of credit here and say it’s not that simple. If this was only about muscling words into existence, hopefully I would have had the resolve to do that more frequently over the past several years. But I don’t think you can look at computers all day and then expect rich, meaningful words to flow from your soul place.

So, that’s all for now. My prerequisite for posting words is always, “Is this helpful to anyone other than me?” and, when I’m writing here, “Is this actually about running a slant?” I’m not sure if this fully makes the cut on either account, but I do think it’s a healthy slant on honesty. Because I could pretend like everything is great and my lack of writing here is because this season of personal writing has passed for me and I’m on to bigger and better things. But that’s not true. I’m just learning how to juggle all of the things. And I wanted to make sure I passed that note along somehow.

Ok, onward! Because I 100% fell asleep writing this last night and had to finish this morning, and now it’s time to start the day. Happy Wednesday, everyone.

(And happy birthday, Jacs!)

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