Time management is my largest concern. I’ve shaped my every-day life to revolve around my writing by generating time in a variety of significant, and seamless ways. I can pack up everything I own within 20 minutes, and my meals are generally on-the-go. Dishes are not a large part of my life. There’s a back-road I take on my way home from work that saves me ten minutes a day, five days a week. The problem I still have, is that those minutes don’t actually add up. They stay within the confines of one busy day; not on top of your bi-weekly check, or served in lump-sum on a silver platter. With eight hour workdays that leave only three or four hours to spare per day, without considering other daily obligations, that ten minutes will only allow me to stop for coffee on my way to work.
I’m 25 years old, and I’ve taken critical, progressive steps toward being able to make living as a traveling writer. I’ve accomplished this much by being wise with my time, and by working 12 hour shifts.
When I was working the traditional forty hours a week, Monday through Friday, I would generally save my research, proofreading and editing for the week, and spend the weekends doing the raw writing. It was a daunting life for writing, and had me sleeping under a spotlight. The weekends were critical. I’m able to keep focused as I write, but the spotlight is on during the week when I remember that Saturday had to be spent doing weekly errands and daily chores; and even if Sunday was productive, that’s only one day for writing, with six more to go until the next one.
I’m starting a new job that operates on 12 hour rotating shifts, and I’m very relieved. I’ve worked on a 12 hour shift schedule before; it could have been made for working writers. I’m often applying for entry-level manufacturing jobs, so it’s a bit easier for me to find 12-hour shifts than someone applying for “desk jobs,” or a teacher, for instance, but if you’re a working writer, and you come across a job that operates on rotating 12 hour shifts, or are able to work out such an opportunity with your employer, take it.
When I worked 12 hour shifts with my last company, our shift rotated with the other night shift to work either 3 or 4 days a week. The shifts are long for some people, and there isn’t much spare time on work days; but every week, I had either three or four consecutive days off. With some skillful time management, I was able to run most weekly errands, and do most household chores on work-days; which left those three or four days off to be used at my discretion.
To put it in other words, I have six months of the year off, in the form of three and four day weekends, with the occasional paid holiday to make a five-day weekend. If I take three days of paid time off, because of the way the work days laid on the calendar, I had nine days off, and didn’t miss a paycheck. It’s also a savvy schedule for traveling.
Six, ten, and twelve hour trips become realistic on four, or even three day weekends. The schedule itself also provides better earnings to be able to take those trips, or to invest in my writing career. The “short week” is 36 hours, and the “long week” is 48 hours. The short week may be a shorter check than working 40 hours, but by law, if an employee works any more than 40 hours in one calendar week, they are to be paid at time and a half. On the “long week” employees get 8 hours of overtime. I earn about 20% more a month working in this manner than I do working a standard forty hour a week schedule.
Entry-level manufacturing jobs are easy to find in most parts of the country. I do my research, and I find them in areas in which are affordable to live in for entry-level manufacturing workers, and although it isn’t a luxurious lifestyle, it allows me to travel and write. I try to turn my traveling expenses into traveling investments, and leave a given area with more money than I had arrived with, which often means living in that area for months at a time. The new environment alone is a great experience, and if I can find a twelve hour shift, it’s even better.
Kyle Stark (a.k.a. Brother Kyle Stark) is a Muslim writer and free-lancer based in the United States. He writes about a variety of topics, including health and fitness, travel, current issues and events, history, spirituality, and religion (as well as some fiction and poetry). His writing can be viewed at and his twitter handle is @brotherazim.