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Posts tagged "office hours"
Why not go for both?
Okay, tough love this morning, because I just woke up:
If your dream job is to teach English at a university, find a grad school that will pay you an assistantship and go get your M.A. and your Ph.D. But beware that there are way more bodies with PhDs than there are teaching gigs, and the pay is pretty low. So even if you did go $30,000 into debt, and even if you did find a teaching gig afterwards, it would still cramp your style, and you would still have trouble paying off your loans and doing all the other things adults want to do, like buy a house or a car or have a family. Also: teaching ain’t just sitting around reading books. The work load is pretty intense: lesson plans, paper grading, publishing, navigating academia. If you didn’t soak yourself in debt to get there, you can always hit the eject button, and all you’ve lost is time.
If you don’t know what your dream job is, don’t go into debt trying to figure it out. Go get a job in a factory or in a cubicle or at Starbucks or wherever the hell else you can find one. I worked in a bonafide cubicle for about four years. If you have a cubicle that’s about five feet high and you have a computer with an internet connection, it can be pretty sweet. They give you health insurance and a paycheck and a lunchbreak where you can read whatever you want, and go home and read some more.
As far as I know, there are no jobs that pay you to be a professional reader. Well, except mine, that is.
I’ve been a librarian, a web designer, and a copywriter, but I always thought I’d be a teacher or a professor. Both my parents have masters degrees and work in education. I just never went back to grad school. It felt like a sort of failure at the time, I mean, my wife is getting her PhD, but the funny thing is that now I get to write books and give talks at colleges and I don’t have to grade papers and I don’t have any student loan debt. And I can still do office hours!
Man, that’s tough. The big thing I do is, I have my stations ready to go. I have all my papers and my markers set up on my analog desk, so I can just grab a page and start making poems when I have spare time. I have pens and index cards all over the house. I bought a new chair that doesn’t make any noise and I keep my laptop on sleep mode so I can just sit down right after I put the kid down, flip open the Macbook and bust out some emails.
But the most important thing is to not do work in short bursts. To find at least 90 minutes in a space where nobody is going to bother you. That uninterrupted time is key. Watch this John Cleese lecture — it’s seriously the best thing I’ve ever seen on the topic.
Basically, you can get over your problems with self-promotion by reframing it as sharing. And real sharing, not just spamming people with your stuff. Sharing your tips, your inspiration, your process. The people who do it really well these days are sort of working and learning in public. I thought I had it covered in chapter six of Steal Like An Artist, “Do Good Work and Share It With People”, but that’s a pretty short chapter for a big topic, so I’m writing a whole book on it. It’s a guide to self-promotion for people who hate the very idea of self-promotion. I don’t know when it’ll be out, but I gave a talk about it a few weeks ago in Austin, so keep your eye on this page, and read back through this tag for more.
Yeah! Meditation! As you can see, it’s now my #1 daily priority. My wife can tell you at the end of the day with pretty deadly accuracy whether or not I meditated.
When I started out I was totally the same way—I wanted to meditate, but I did not want any “crunchy.” No new-agey crap or whatever.
So I just sat down at the top of my stairs, set a timer for 10 minutes, and closed my eyes. Seriously. That’s it. That’s still all I do, months later! And I just try to breath deeply, let my mind go, let thoughts come and go, try to let my whole body relax.
Sometimes I have really vivid images come to me. Sometimes great ideas come to me. Sometimes nothing happens at all.
What it’s taught me is how fucking hard it is to do something every single day. Holy crap, it’s hard. Think of it this way: if you can’t train yourself to sit on your ass for 10 minutes and do nothing once a day, how the hell are you going to do anything else that requires discipline?
Anyways, I really recommend it. Just sit somewhere and set a timer and try to lose yourself and don’t look at your phone or your laptop. It’s so stupidly simple, but so great.
More on meditation here.