Date published: 10/12/2019
Written by: Wil Williams
Produced by: Wil Williams
It’s time for Wil to explain some of her overworking crimes. This week, take a dive into what Wil’s daily workload looks like, how she’s learned to manage it, and the BIG life change that’s hopefully going to make things a lot easier for her.
- Jordan Cobb’s IndieGogo campaign for Primordial Deep
- Not Wil: “So You Want A Husky? Be Ready For This!”
- Unfortunately, Wil: “하늘에서 내려온 아기천사.” (aka “A baby angel from heaven.”)
Burnout has been in the news a lot between 2018 and 2019 — especially for online creators who can’t just make a living off of their art.
This week on Scoring Magic, I’m gonna talk about balancing your responsibilities when you’re doing way, way, way too much.
First up: housekeeping!
We’ve had a change in our cast. Sarah Harris will now be played by the magnificent Jordan Cobb! You might know Jordan from her work on Janus Descending, Here Be Dragons, Marsfall, or like . . . so many things. She’s amazing, y’all — we’re so happy to be working with her.
Jordan’s production company, No Such Thing, is currently crowdfunding her upcoming fiction podcast, Primordial Deep, about big big scary ocean dinosaurs that scare me. She’s making it with our amazing sound designer, Julia Schifini, and we can’t wait to listen to it. Please go give Jordan money so she can scare me real real good. We’re linking her IndieGogo in the show notes.
A lot of the Hug House and VALENCE team is gearing up to be at PodTales, a free audio fiction festival in Boston on October 20th. Free, again, reminder: free! No money. Zero money. Free!
Hug House is going to have a booth there, run by Anne and Katie. I, unfortunately, have to stay home, but it’s ok. I’ll be manning down the fort, and by fort I mean house, and by house I mean Hug House! You know how the title of Scoring Magic comes from not knowing what magic sounds like?
Well, we have some guesses now, and if you swing by our booth, you might just get a very special sneak peek. So, if you’re in Boston on October 20th, again, that is PodTales. You can find more at PodTales.org — that’s p-o-d-t-a-l-e-s-dot-o-r-g. This isn’t sponsored! I know this sounds like sponcon — I’m just, like, really sad I can’t be at PodTales and I know we’re gonna have amazing things there and I want you to go. PodTales.org.
So. Balancing responsibilities.
I’m bad at it.
If you’ve listened to this podcast from the beginning, which, you should because it’s a documentary. It is a serial story, so start at the beginning, um, but you already know that I’m bad at this.
Back in episode one, I played you some of the audio from when I first told Amber and Zach my idea to make VALENCE and Scoring Magic.
But I didn’t play you all of it. So . . . here’s more of it.
[Amber and Zach recording]
So . . . I want to try to adapt Stabl as an audio drama.
Like, I think that that’s, like–
That’s like a long time coming, right? Like that’s inevitable?
Yes. Yeah, yeah.
We can like all agree?
I somehow did not see that.
Well, mostly because you haven’t finished it.
Well, that’s also-ok but that’s because-go ahead, go ahead.
You have the first book-
And that’s an important start . . .
Right! And part of the reason why I’m doing it as an audio drama now instead of finishing the third book is because I don’t wanna be tied to that ending that I originally had planned. When you adapt something and it can change so much in the iterations and I would want to have feedback from the cast and get to know the cast and think about their ideas of the character’s directions forward. So much can change in that that I don’t want to close the end.
But don’t you still want to have them completed, though, or–
I don’t know. Yeah. We’ll see. Um, I don’t know if it is gonna work in audio at all. I don’t how the fuck I’m gonna do it. Um. [Laughs] like, at all…
But that’s only half of my idea.
I’ve been thinking about that for so long.
About what the other half is?
Like, if you were ever going to make Stabl into a podcast, if it was ever gonna click in your lil braaain . . .
Yeah, I dunno why it took so long!
Cause I was like–
I kept it to myself ‘cause I’m like, she has so much to do!
I know, I know. I’m glad that you don’t think it’s just, like, a totally bullshit idea. That it just would not work in audio . . .
[back to narration]
Here’s the kicker. That “so much I had to do”? That . . . was a fraction of what I’ve been doing recently. Let me walk you through what my days have looked like for the last . . . while.
I wake up at 6:30AM, get dressed, do my hair, brush my teeth, do my makeup. This process takes a clean 30 minutes start to finish. I listen to podcasts the entire time. I start with PodNews, and then I listen to Gemini Today. Then, I’ll usually listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour or something else short-ish.
If I have time, if I haven’t slept in, I’ll make myself a quick coffee and eat a quick breakfast. I listen to podcasts that require closer listening and takes notes in my head that I’ll put down in writing, if they’re worthwhile, later.
At 7:10AM, my husband and I leave for work. We listen to podcasts on the 30-minute drive, maybe pausing once or twice to talk about plans for the day. While Zach drives, I check my personal email, my primary podcast email, and my press release email. I reply to as much as I can before we get to work.
I usually get in at 7:45AM, and I take the 15 minutes before work starts to respond to the emails that require a little bit more work, that I wouldn’t want to handle over my phone. I might listen to music, but I’m probably listening to podcasts and taking mental notes.
At 8:00AM, work starts. I grab a cup of coffee and take 60mg of duloxetine. I listen to podcasts, take actual notes, check my emails when I can, submit pitches to my recurring publications, and write articles between doing work-work tasks.
At 12:00PM, I take my lunch. I try to bring my lunch as much as possible and get as much work done as possible on my lunch hour, but I don’t listen to podcasts. Well, usually. I usually watch YouTube videos. Sometimes, I schedule business calls during my lunch, or even interviews. I once had to interview Julie Shapiro of Radiotopia during my lunch because . . . that was the only time I had.
At 1:00PM it’s back to work, and the cycle starts back over. Work, listen, write notes, write articles, work, check emails, maybe do some Hug House work, maybe write an episode, maybe submit another pitch, check emails, work.
At 5:00PM, Zach and I head home. Some days, I have a remote meeting on the drive. Other times, Zach and I will talk about our day. And put on another podcast, and yes, I do take mental notes.
We get home, feed our cats, Mozzarella and Usidore — we don’t feed them those things, those are their names. Mozzarella and Usidore. And then at 6ish we eat, and then oftentimes at 7 or 8 I’ll be recording another podcast, writing an episode, writing articles, etc. etc. etc.
On good days, I get done working at 9 or 10PM. Usually, it’s closer to 11.
So, for those of you keeping score, I start doing work of some kind at about 6:30, maybe 6:50 every morning. I stop doing all forms of work at 11PM. I take maybe two hours of break between those working hours.
That’s about 15 hours of work.
Now, granted, that’s on my busiest days. Some days, I only do my work work and not any podcast stuff. No, just kidding, I don’t, I wrote that sentence in the script and then literally laughed out loud. So. That should prove my point there.
What’s really scary to me is that I know I’m not alone. Podcasters are some of the hardest working people I know. I know so few podcasters who just have one job. Most of us can’t afford to just make our podcast.
So like . . . what the fuck are we supposed to do?
It’s probably not surprising that my first tip is to work with a team. I know some of y’all are hell-bent on entirely being solo creators, and like . . . I get it, my guy, but it’s not sustainable. It’s almost definitely not sustainable. Find a team. Find people who can support you.
And when you find them, DELEGATE. Don’t make a promise to delegate, and then micromanage everyone. Trust your team. Delegate. This is something I’m still working on — I admit to that — and it’s really hard. It feels lazy and embarrassing and inconvenient. I grew up with a work ethic, and with overworking myself being almost moralized. I know how hard it is. It feels really wrong. But it’s important, and it will help you take care of yourself, and it will make your team feel involved, respected, and like a real part of the project.
My next tip is probably going to sound counter-intuitive. This has been a weird one for me to learn.
Do not get so caught up in investing in yourself that you forget about the well-being of your current self.
I have a tendency on focusing too much on Future Wil. Present Wil can take a whole lot of bullshit and burnout and depression and exhaustion and anxiety, because that quote-unquote hard work means that Future Wil can have more money, or more time, or more something. If Present Wil just keeps working and working and working, Future Wil can be happy.
Here’s the problem: Future Wil always becomes Present Wil. And Present Wil only works to be Future Wil. Which means that basically, I am always, always working on investment in the future without ever taking care of my present me.
This thought had never occurred to me. Ever. That the current form of myself matters as much as the future hypothetical form of myself. Big shoutout to Cathyann Hersom LPC, a true badass, for this one.
In podcasting, we focus a lot on improvement. How can we make our workflows more efficient so Future Podcast can be streamlined? How can we make our editing better so Future Podcast can sound more professional? We should take notes on Current Podcast so Future Podcast can get better.
Current Podcast is going to suffer if you keep ONLY focusing on Future Podcast.
And the same is true for you, as a creator.
With that, my next tip is general life advice, but something I think work-obsessive podcasters need to hear too: stop taking stock self-care advice from the internet. Stop it. I know it is appealing, I know that it is easy, I know that it is #aesthetic, stop doing it. Bath bombs are good as hell, we all know this, but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily self-care for you. You can enjoy something without it being, necessarily, self-care.
For a long time, I tried the self-care methods you see online. So, like, bath bomb, yeah, but also watching something sweet and soft or trying to read or trying to do a craft. I’d get myself a little frivolous treat or trinket or something.
I’m gonna explain this through analogy, one, because Anne made this parallel to me and I found it very apt and very funny and a truly sick burn, but also because it allows me to talk to you about dogs. There are two dog grooming videos on YouTube that I love. Well, ok, like, there’s a ton, but I’m only gonna talk about two. As always, they’ll be linked in the show notes.
The first is a video called, “So You Want a Husky? Be Ready for This!” In this video, a person gets rid of their husky’s shedding winter coat using a leaf blower. Don’t worry, it’s not dangerous, I don’t think. The huskies are enjoying the hell out of it — they are having a good time. It is silly and cost-efficient and time-efficient and it gets the job done.
I wanted so badly to be this dog when it comes to self-care.
The second is a video called, “A baby angel from heaven,” but in Korean. It is a video of a very small, very small, tiny small, very small, baby baby maltese being meticulously groomed at a very fancy dog salon, set to very sweet and calming royalty-free music.
Listener. I am not the husky.
I am, unfortunately, the baby angel from heaven.
I kept trying to solve my self-care needs with frequent cost-efficient and time-efficient purchases. I’d tell myself it was self-care to get a Starbucks that I did not even actually want.
What I actually found to be the most effective version of self-care for myself was taking a weekend at a hotel close-ish to my area, yes, a staycation. Completely alone, disengaging with social media, talk to myself a whole bunch, and watching a ton of horror movies.
Is it cost-efficient? Well, maybe, depending on the room rate and how many Starbucks I was buying to induce some sort of emotional healing. But like–no, not really. It’s pretty expensive, even if I do it infrequently.
But it’s what works for me when I’m in desperate need of taking care of myself. And it lasts way, way, way longer than any Starbucks or bath or any other method I’ve tried.
I don’t like being the baby angel from heaven because it makes me feel high-maintenance, and it doesn’t look like what self-care is supposed to look like for me, and I feel embarrassed that I can do something so indulgent even if the only reason I’m doing it is so I don’t literally fall apart. But, again, it’s what works for me. Self-care doesn’t have to look any specific way. You need to find what what self-care is, not just in a general sense, but for you as an individual.
My last tip is the most important, the one you’ve probably heard the most, and the one you probably find the least helpful. I know. I was in that position for a long time too, and I’m very lucky, very lucky, not to be in that position anymore. But in case someone listening hasn’t heard it yet, I still have to say it.
You need to look at your life and allocate your time and energy based on your priorities.
I know. I know that this isn’t a possibility for most of us, because our podcasting doesn’t pay enough for us to leave our day job, but our day job takes up all of the time that could be spent making our podcasts more marketable and profitable.
So instead of telling you to quit your job to focus on your hobby, which is something I would never expect or really suggest to someone, I want to tell you about how . . . I did.
That is right. As of October, 25th, I am going to be a full-time writer and podcaster. This is something that I’ve wanted for . . . a long time. And it’s really, really amazing and really surreal to me that it’s happening. I’m getting sappy, so I’m gonna go back to my script.
About a week and a half ago, one of my coworkers announced that she would be leaving my workplace, and something inside of me snapped. I’d wanted to leave for at least a year–again, shoutout to Cathyann Hersom, LPC, for basically telling me that I needed to get out of there for a year straight–but I felt completely trapped. Zach picked me up that day from work and I tried not to cry. Over dinner, I kept saying, “What do I do?” I asked my Discord server and my friends. I felt like my brain was falling apart. I was in a legitimate crisis because I knew what I had to do.
I had to quit.
I didn’t think I could. But I knew that I had to anyway.
Zach and I thought about how much I make writing about podcasts. We thought about what it would mean to switch from my health insurance to his. And we realized that really, we could do this. It would be tight at times. And freelancing wasn’t always consistent. It was a decisions that we had to make fairly quickly for a number of reasons. But we realized that we would be okay.
We’re both still a little scared.
I’m a lot scared. But it was what I needed to do, and it was what we could do.
I put in my notice, and my last day of work is, again, October 25th. I am officially quitting my day job to live my dream. It’s some real 2000s romcom shit and it is surreal and oh my god I quit my day job to live my dream hahahahaah what the hell. What the hell.
Now, again, I am not telling you to quit your job. What I am telling you is that if you find yourself repeating “What do I do? What do I do?” because you’re so over-worked and you feel like you’re always in a crisis, you need to look at your priorities, and you need to allow yourself to drop the responsibilities that you can.
Look at what you feel like you need to drop. And then drop what you can.
I could only quit my job because my husband has a consistent salary and benefits, and I’ve already secured enough freelance work to make sure we can stay afloat. That’s a massively privileged situation to be in, and I’m endlessly grateful for it.
That might not be the situation for you. It probably isn’t. But maybe you can drop a task for your podcast that you feel you cannot keep up with, and you think you can manage without. Allow yourself to drop the responsibilities that are focused all on Future You while making Present You suffer.
If there’s one thing I want you to remember from this episode, it’s that Present You is important.
Present You matters.
And Future You will not exist without Present You.
Listener, don’t be like Past Wil. She wasn’t good at taking care of herself, and she kept burning herself out over and over and over. You’ve heard it in episode one, you’ve probably seen it on my Twitter, you’ve heard it here again.
Instead, maybe be more like Present Wil, I hope. She’s still got a lot of work to do, but she’s finally committing a lot of that work on taking better care of herself, and managing her responsibilities better.
Next time on Scoring Magic, we’ll give you a little life update. It’s time to bring you up to speed with VALENCE, and us, and everything so far. It’s our first bona fide check-in episode! See you soon!
Scoring Magic is a Hug House production. Find more at HugHouse.Productions. Our music this week was by Broke For Free, and Kevin MacLeod.
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