Thursday, January 8, 2009

What they don't tell you

One of the tough things about being an aspiring writer is the "aspiring" part. You have to write so that you have samples to show people, but no one is going to pay you to write those samples, so you have to also have a full-time job so you can pay rent and eat. That means all your writing happens when you're not at work. So does your sleeping. And your dating. And your TV watching. And your working out. (Maybe I should stop blogging so much, but the questions have been piling up - I'll get to them all soon, I promise.) I'm trying to get back on the fitness bandwagon (I despise having a cliche New Years' resolution, but when I'm jacked I'll be able to beat people up for calling me out on it)...and that doesn't leave much writing time. It seems that you're either a fit non-writer or a fat writer.

One of the tough things about being an assistant is bladder control. For much of the work day, I have to pee. This is my dilemma. No, it's not like we don't have a bathroom nearby, or that agencies forbid peeing like factories in the 20s...but you just KNOW that the moment you step away, the messenger you sent is going to be held up by the Universal Gate Gestapo, the mailroom will lose two $800,000 checks, clients will call and get voicemail some shiny CAA agent will use their distress to sweep in and poach them, and after your boss gets an email that someone wants him to join something called Facebook he'll start intercomming you AMANDAAAAA? AMANDAAAAA? HELPPPP! for the whole department to hear. So sometimes it's really just better to hold it.


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12 comments:

Neil said...

Haha, sounds like a fun job you have! You're right though - peeing HAS to take a back seat when it comes to writing. It's the law!

What you need to do is find another aspiring writer to pop round and take over the phones while you go for a leak. Then tell them to bugger off when you're back. A fool proof plan if you ask me.

Mike said...

Don't underestimate the bathroom break as an outlet to getting away from the insanity of the office. Thank goodness for iPhone solitaire...

David Turner said...

You see, I save all my toilet breaks for the office. That way, you don't have to pay for any consumables AND you're getting paid to do it!

Justine said...

Too true about working out or writing! This trade off is lose/lose: either you are fatty with monster thighs and awesome specs, or lean with an outline of a show that got canceled last season. Right now I'm totally trying to do the writing and exercising thing, but I'm doing about C- work on both.

Sasha said...

It's a law of nature that EVERY writer wishes they could/would write more! So don't beat yourself up, esp. with those newly jacked arms ;)

Mark Thomas said...

Amanda: Thank you for your blog. You're extremely generous and a fine writer. I wish you the best.

The Feral Kid said...

Hang in there, go for a 10 minute walk before writing .. not much exercise I know but it gets oxygen to the brain which helps with creativity. Definitely a catch 22.
I agree with Mark - thanks for the blog. You'll be fine, take a deep breath and smile.

Dan Williams said...

You may be guilty of EITHER/OR thinking, which would limit your choices a lot. A ten-minute walk at lunch is good. And it's good after work. The idea is to reach your fitness goal by setting do-able goals that lead to it. And that makes the experience rewarding all the way through it.

Similarly, at work, you don't have to just do work that relates to the agency. You can also take a minute here and there to jot down your ideas as they come. Nobody will notice and if they do, they won't care, they aren't working 24/7 for the company either! So you could keep an idea journal and note down, say, all the funny stuff and characters you meet in a day. Say, you fill one page of your notebook every day. This way you like to go to work because it is helping you achieve your writing goals! And you make writing progress every day, little by little. You could even outline a scene, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, six lines each, and you can be thinking about the scene as you are working during the day. Think of each person you meet, each exchange as great grist for your writing mill.

As far as bathroom breaks go, I would suggest drinking only one cup of coffee in the morning and trying to last out until noon. And only one drink at noon, and try to last until 5 PM. Then, you can drink all you want after work hours.

And just keep saying to yourself, that you are going to do it! You are going to get there! It's going to happen, and it will!

David Turner said...

Good advice from Dan, there.
I keep my notebook on my desk at my day job, flick it open and jot down amusing things I thought up (rarely) / overhear (sometimes) / stumble upon on the internet (constantly).

I'll get into work a few minutes early and do a little bit of writing (first person in the office every day, so some peace and quiet away from the family!), maybe do a bit of writing in my lunch break (I enjoy it, so it doesn't feel like work. In fact, sometimes I can't wait for lunch so I can write out a scene that's been going round my head since breakfast)

I remember hearing that Martin Amis wrote his first novel on the blotter paper of his desk during his first job...

Amanda said...

sometimes you guys take me so seriously. :)

Kermet said...

What I really love is all these things that the "experts" (i.e. booksellers) tell you you need to do to be a pro writer - like "you should read 25 scripts for every 1 you write" (see Barney Lichenstein in CS Mag's Jan/Feb issue). Here's my point - Do what you need to do to get where you want to go and stop listening to people trying to sell you books.

Kermet said...

My mistake, it was Iglesias, not Lichenstein, that had the "read 25" rule. Lichenstein just does the usual "Top 10 Ways to Get Past the Reader" schtick. I'm so glad I'm not renewing my subscription of that magazine...though Shelly Gabert wrote an excellent article on "Know Your Show" (The Closer/Damages)