DEBORAH CROMBIE: We've been having the same argument in our house for twenty years. (As long as Rick and I have been married, come this May.)
Rick: You're self-employed. You can work whenever you want. Why don't you do the errands during the week when things are busy? I'd never go out shopping on Saturday! You're crazy!
Me: But it just doesn't work that way! I'll never make up the work time on the weekend. We do stuff. My friends are off work and I want to spend time with them, too. And besides, everyone in New York works Monday to Friday, so I can't very well be out gallivanting around during the work week. (Okay, maybe I didn't actually say "gallivanting.")
Rick: (Shaking his head in disgust.) Okay, then. Just don't complain when it takes you two hours and body armor to get through Costco on a Saturday afternoon...
And so it goes. Impasse. And of course, he's right. But I am, too. And I do often get a lot of work done on the weekends. The phone doesn't ring, business emails don't have to be answered, and there's a certain freedom and quiet that I don't often find on a weekday. But that isn't the same as SCHEDULING Saturday or Sunday as a workday!
So, fellow REDS, am I just contrary? (Hank, you are the only one of us that works a full time job AND writes (AND promotes like nobody else!) so we will just assume you're Superwoman here...) Do you set yourself a 9-5, Monday-Friday week? And if so, do you stick to it?
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Yes, I've had two essentially full time jobs since 2007-ish--and I can tell you it is gradually becoming impossible. One hundred percent. If my employers weren't so enthusiastic and forgiving, I'm not sure what I would do. But I can tell you this: I work all the time. ALL THE TIME. I can also tell you that although it has been rewarding, in every way imaginable, it is also not sustainable. After 7 years of no vacations and 7 day work weeks I m feeling a lit-tle tired. However--it is worth it.
One more thing--without scheduling and planning it would never happen. I agree, Debs, there's a rhythm to the work and it is helpful to be in it. I also remind myself to remember (!) that this is a GOOD dilemma. Too much to do? Lovely! Lucky! Hurray.
LUCY BURDETTE: Honestly Hank, I don't know how you keep this up. I vote that you take a vacation!
Here it is, Saturday morning, and I'm working. Not well (obviously, because I'm adding to this blog instead of my word count.) I suppose it all depends on where I am in the process. If it's crunch time with deadline barreling toward me, the weekends are no longer sacred. The one time I won't work--because my brain is fried--is in the evenings. And you're right about the publishing business too, Debs--they definitely don't answer emails on the weekend the way we writers do!
RHYS BOWEN: I write 2 books a year, this year 3 books, which means I don't have a lot of breathing time. I have to get that first draft finished in 3 months so I have time to polish and promote. Which means I write every day, weekends included... unless there is something really big like a family birthday. I try to get my work done in the morning so I have some time to work out, relax and shop in the afternoon.
All goes well until I have a month like this one and I'm on the road, trying to get snippets of work done on planes. Not easy. I don't know how Hank does it. I feel like I'm running on a wheel all the time and it must be much worse for her.
SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: I work 9 to 3, but after 3 comes my other job — being mom to a nine-year-old. I make up for this by working pretty much seven days a week, having a daily word count, and taking intensive "off-grid" weeks where I go somewhere quiet and just work pretty much round the clock. However, I just do one book a year, so Hank and Rhys — wowza! But I do use the freelancing thing as a reason to go places at "off-peak times," so Debs, I'm with Rick on that one!
HALLIE EPHRON: I write every day so if it weren't for my husband's work week I'd have no idea what day of the week it is. On weekends he's around to bother me and make me feel guilty if I'm chasing a deadline and don't feel like I can stop and play. But most days I'm fried by afternoon so that's when errands get done.
Two books a year? No way. One every two years is more my speed, and even then I'm crunching at the end.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Hallie and I are on the same production schedule.....:-) I'm a M-F worker, for much the same reason as Susan - weekends are for family and kid time. Of course, since home and office are the same thing, it's not unusual for me to dip into some sort of work on Saturday and Sunday, even if it's just commenting on our blog. Oddly enough, in the summer, I often boost my schedule and work six or seven days a week. Why? Because Ross is home for the school vacation (all author-moms should have a teacher for a spouse!) and can take care of all the stuff that I'm usually responsible for when school is in session. Also, because I know I'm going to want to take guilt-free days off when we go on our summer weekend trips or our week at the shore.
I'd like to try that off-grid week thing, Susan. I've gone to friends houses once or twice to get away from it all and have found that to be very productive.
DEBS: I never said I didn't work on weekends, only that I didn't like to take time off M-F and schedule a weekend day as a work day. As it turned out, I've worked on and off all weekend--as happens most weekends. There is, somehow, a little sense of play to it, as if you are sneaking in a treat. Or so I tell myself...
And I, too, love the off-grid thing. Even between my upcoming trips to Tucson and Monterey (Tucson Festival of Books and Left Coast Crime) I've given myself three days in Monterey just to write. Really. I am SO looking forward to it. And London is a huge "off-grid" time for me. I've finished two books there--a fabulous experience. The only schedule I keep in London is Saturdays at Portobello Market!
My conclusions from this impromptu survey? Rhys, I have my knickers in a twist, to say the least, over all my upcoming trips, and trying to figure out how to meet all my commitments AND write. I don't know how you do what you do. And I'm going to drink a toast to you when I see you in Scottsdale... and Tucson... and Monterey... Maybe you can give me a Rhys-stamina booster???
And Hank, where were you in that last post I saw on Facebook? Palm Springs? Can I even ask?
And the final consensus? Writers are dull, dull, dull. If you want a good time girl--or guy--look somewhere else. We pretty much work all the time--although some of us are obviously more efficient than others...
So how about you, readers? If you are mistress or master of your own time, do you work a five-day week? Or if you only wish you had the option (assuming you realize it's not the cakewalk we would all like to imagine) would you set the weekly clock??
P.S.: And Hank really needs to take a vacation!!!!