Do you admit that you’re a writer? If it’s in your job description I suppose you do, but for many of us being a writer presents us with a dilemma. Do you admit to your boss that you’re hoping to get paid for what you do off the clock?
I have a friend in the publishing industry whose employer has strict rules about such things. Any “employment” that takes away from work time has to be declared in written form and sent to the office that investigates conflict of interest. If you’re a writer who’s paid to do something else you can already see where I’m going with this.
Inspiration doesn’t obey time-clocks. In fact, it almost always makes a mockery of them. When you’ve arrived at work and punched in (i.e., booted up your PC) does that story idea obediently bed down until 5 p.m.? Of course not. Even after you’ve dug into today’s business, it’s probably playing like muzak in the back corridors of your gray matter. It sometimes can’t wait until the lunch break to burst out.
What boss would be glad to hear that? Doesn’t it sound like a recipe for unproductive employees and incipient laziness? Boss’ll say “make bricks without straw,” and you’ll be basking in that metaphor. But those of us who write have a secret. We know that simple binaries aren’t half the story. We can do more than one task at a time.
Still, it’s dangerous to admit to the boss that you write. More often than not, the thought will be there that you could be using some of that “fluff time” for working a few extra hours. Make more money for the company. Take one for the team. That’s the way a non-writer thinks.
The writer has the dilemma: to say or not to say? We also have a bit of insider knowledge. Taking that few minutes offline during the course of the work day doesn’t hurt our performance. As writers know, it only enhances it.