I’ve recently been under a lot of stress. In fact, it’s gotten to the point where it felt like my whole brain wanted to short-circuit. (Not going to give a whole blow-by-blow again, but if you’re wondering what it’s like, you can take a good look here.)
I’ve been griping a lot about my currently available amount of time lately. (Ask anyone who’s volunteered to host me for my blog tour.)
And just to make sure that everyone understands what I’m talking about:
Since the beginning of January, I have been working full days and then some, and then spent the remainder in a place with no Internet. Which means that my usual schedule of doing my work and finishing and then going over into writing has pretty much fallen by the way-side.
I’m hoping that this will change in the near future as we fall into more of a routine. (And we no longer have to rent a place with no internet reception.) But in the meantime, I think my expected writing time has been reduced by two thirds.
No, I’m not kidding.
I’m still getting stuff done. A lot of stuff. Two weeks into February and I’ve written and/or edited the equivalent of almost 40k words. I probably would have been there already but for a work function that kept me up until midnight on Thursday, but anyway.
I think this rate of output, given the amount of time I’ve had available, is impressive enough for me to sound like I know where I’m coming from.
Because I bet there are quite a few of you who are thinking: How in the heck is she managing that?!
My answer comes down to something like this.
Just keep writing.
I mean, I could have been going into a blind panic about my entire schedule changing, but instead, I wrote. I could have complained about my lack of internet at night.
I wrote instead.
I could have worried about the fact that I have less time to get things done… But… you know… I got things done.
I’m not going to say it’s easy. I’ve basically given up on my reading until I’ve 1) finished formatting Endless and 2) finished the rewrite I’m currently working on.
I’ve also swapped my whole writing routine around so that I can write at night and an hour every morning instead of in the late afternoon and early evening as I’m used to.
But write, I am writing. And apparently at an amazing rate.
So if you’re in the same boat where you’re struggling to find your usual writing time, don’t give up.
If you can find five minutes every day, write for five minutes. If you can find twenty minutes, write for twenty minutes. No, it might not be the hour you believe you need, but it adds up to a whole lot more than nothing if you keep waiting for that perfect hour to show up.
And there you have it. My secret to writing a lot of words.
How much time in a day do you usually use to write? Have you ever needed to swap your routine around to fit your writing in?
Yeah yeah. I know. It’s August and I still haven’t finished April’s A to Z Challenge. I’m getting there, though.
For those of you who missed it, my theme was: Things Writers Should Know About Writing, and I planned to post once a week on the theme until it was done. But then I published two books and held a month long blog tour…
Which actually brings me to the whole point of today’s post.
Since I define writers as people who are writing, (as supposed to people who say “I have this great idea, but I just don’t have time…”) this relates to actual writers having time.
More specifically, I want to point out that writers very rarely have any time to spare. We never have enough time to write enough. And when we do, we don’t have time for anything else.
It’s a curse, I tell you.
It is, however, quite normal, and you needn’t feel guilty about it.
Nor should you feel guilty when you steal time.
Or when you make time, be it to write or not.
You’re writing. Even if it’s only a small bit at a time.
You’re writing, and that’s the important thing.
What’s your relationship with time like?
Before I start on today’s post, I just want to ask that you check out yesterday’s announcement. I’d love it if you took part!
I’m not quite where I want to be with my editing, but that’s fine. I’m finally getting back to working office hours at the day-job.
This isn’t really troublesome, since often my job has plenty of waiting periods where I can get some writing/editing/blogging/whatever else I need to do in. (I work for my family firm, working from our house, in case you were wondering how I got this lucky.)
Today, though, is a bit of a tough one because of the cake decorating course I’m taking. Don’t get me wrong. It’s fun and really interesting. But the classes are long and often require more intense concentration than you’d think.
So tonight… I’m going to kick back and not feel guilty.
I don’t need to, because tomorrow’s South Africa’s presidential elections, which means the whole country shuts down (again). Good for me because it’ll probably take me a few minutes to vote, and I’ll have the whole day to edit. So I can still finish The Vanished Knight‘s edits by tomorrow.
Just not by forcing myself to try and edit tonight, and then not concentrating which means I have to redo it all again tomorrow.
Sometimes, it really is more efficient to not work at something.
Anyone else editing? How’s it going?
I can’t believe that we’re at the end of April already. Because it’s the last Friday of this month, it’s Update Day for my bloghop.
Thanks so much for the comments to yesterday’s post. I decided to stop whining and look at the query again.
Mistake I’d made this time: I put too much importance on it. You see… I’m not excluding any publishing method at this stage. The only reason why I’m querying now is so that I can say I tried it. If it fails, I’m not going to worry about it too much.
It just means I wasn’t meant to go the traditional route. I’ll take another.
In the mean time, I looked at my most recently drafted query. It sucked.
So I decided to take a completely new approach to the query and I think it’s pretty dang good. Just waiting for the dust to settle, then I’ll be editing it again.
In the mean time, I started the monumental task of summarizing Doorways so that I can write the synopsis. I have 70 chapters. So far, I’ve finished 13.
That’s not the only monumental task I have in front of me. It’s not even the most urgent I have to finish my grandmother’s painting. You know… the one that’s supposed to be her Christmas gift.
I’m filled with jitters about it. It’s all good and well to do one for myself, but this is for my Grandmother’s Christmas present, so I really don’t want to mess it up. But I only have 6 days and so much detail work to do that I’m terrified.
Sigh. Sorry if today’s post is mixed up. I have a few too many things vying for my attention today.
Anyone else as messed up as me this time of the year? What do you need to get done and soon?
When Misha mentioned that her theme this month was keeping track, I immediately thought of time management.
And if you’re self-publishing (like I chose to do) time-management becomes an even bigger issue. There’s no editor or agent to give you deadlines or reminders to keep working. You’re on your own.
So how do you make the best use of your time? Here’s my list of suggestions. I wrote them specifically for writers, but you can expand this to apply to most activities.
The very, very first step to improve time management is to make a mental commitment to your new schedule. If you don’t want to improve your time management, you probably won’t.
So start by listing your goals. Perhaps you want to set aside time to write for one hour every day (that’s my usual time goal). Maybe you want to focus on reading more. Whatever it is, list your goals, and make a promise to yourself to commit.
I am so guilty of this, especially around New Year’s. I make all these crazy resolutions, like I’ll go running for an hour every day, or I’ll cook dinner every evening (yeah, right).
Figure out what is realistic for you. Once again, if it’s a big change, you’re less likely to follow through. Start with one small change (like setting aside 30 minutes a day for writing), and then build up to something bigger.
I am definitely an early bird. My most productive time of day is 6 AM, when I have the first mug of coffee in my hands.
But I know not everyone is like that. Honestly assess yourself and decide when during the day you’re most productive. Maybe inspiration hits during your lunch break. Maybe your best ideas coming after dinner. Make sure you’re setting up your block of writing time to coincide with when you do your best work.
Personally, I am a Google Calendar addict. When I’m not writing, I’m tutoring, so I use Google Calendar to keep my schedule straight.
The other nice thing is that you can leave event notes. For my writing blocks, I’ll leave a note with how many words I wrote that day. It helps me to track my progress and keep me motivated toward my goal.
It can be hard to hold ourselves accountable, so find a way to set some kind of enforcement for your deadlines.
For my first book, ‘Bright Star’, I was having trouble keeping myself motivated through the editing phase. To keep myself on track, I booked a freelance editor about 8 weeks in advance. My deadline then became getting through all of my corrections and rewrites BEFORE I sent my work off to my editor. Having another person to be accountable to makes a world of difference.
Don’t have an editor? Then set up a deadline with a friend or relative. You can agree to show them a draft of your work X weeks out. Knowing that another person is counting on your work definitely helps motivation.
This is my favorite step. If you meet your goals (i.e. — writing for an hour every day for a month, or getting your draft ready before your deadline), treat yourself to something! You’ve earned it. Whether it be a nice dinner out, a bottle of wine, or some cheesecake (oh, yum, cheesecake), giving yourself a little pat on the back makes it easier to stay motivated to make the best use of your time.
You can find Nickie Anderson on her blog.
Her first book, ‘Bright Star’, was released November 9th. It is available at the following retailers:
I feel so guilty that I haven’t been writing a YATT post in such a long time. And it’s rather stupid, because a lot of my Tuesday posts were YA related. Sigh.
Still, going back and adding the badge feels like cheating, so… here I am, still feeling guilty.
I’m really starting to miss when I was still in high school. Wow. There was a phrase that I never thought I’d use.
But no, this isn’t an attack of nostalgia on my part. I’m not missing the hanging with friends, or all the other things that people miss about that time of their life.
No. I miss that I had A LOT of writing time. I mean, six hours at school? With me finishing the homework before the class was finished? Yeah… writing…. writing… writing… writing.
Nothing to do in the afternoon? Pht. Write.
I almost want to cry at the amount of writing time I wasted.
Especially now, when my writing time has taken a huge hit. See, my quiet working days aren’t quiet any more. So there goes eight hours out of every work day. And then there’s the fact that I’m exhausted when I’m done working. Two hours more. Six to eight for sleeping… Three for eating with the family. Two a night for random non-writing activities… That adds up to 23 hours. I have one freaking hour to write. Per day.
That is unacceptable.
Un. Ac. Ceptable.
I am going to crack.
Where do you create time to write? I’m already at the point of changing my sleeping patterns to fit it in. I’m even *shudder* pre-writing my blog posts. I really don’t want to dump non-writing activities because that will make me a hermit, but I already dropped one because it was wasting writing time. Any suggestions?
Hi all! Today’s the last GPF for the next four weeks, since arranging for guest posts that suit the A to Z Challenge would be too much of a pain. GPF will continue in May, however, and the first two Fridays are open. So if you want to become one of the illustrious people who post on my blog, please read this post and contact me so that we can arrange it.
In the mean time, I want to welcome one of my favorite and most talented blogging friends (and I know, because I critted his work recently), Allan from Publish or Perish. Thanks so much for taking the time to write this post, Al.
How We Write
When I volunteered to write this post for Misha I thought to myself that I would knock something together in half an hour or so. I imagined I would write about something related to the creative process. That I would write about something like plot development, or characterisation, or perhaps editing.
Then Misha reminded me of the deadline she had for submitting this post. I realised that I had not thought about composing this post, let alone put finger to keyboard (I use pen and paper for almost nothing these days). The reason is of course like so many people today I am time poor. I suspect that most of us who write do so by snatching moments.
That fact made me think about how we find the time (let alone the mental space) to write.
Writing seriously takes time. Be it poetry, non-fiction, biography, pulp or literary fiction completing works is time intensive. My best estimate for the time it took me to complete my first novel was the equivalent of six months full-time work. That does not include the time other people spent on it for me.
That time was spread out over years. During that period I was working full time at a day job and being a parent, husband, etc, etc. This is something that is common to the vast majority of writers I know. Almost none of the writers I know (either in the real world or cyberspace) have had enough success to allow them to write professionally.
I won’t fall into the trap of assuming things are necessarily rosy for that group. Writing as a career is going to have all sorts of its own pressures.
So where am I going with this ramble? Time for writing.
My first novel Veiled in Shadows took years to get from idea to print. Most of the time it did little more than languish. Then something changed. I changed jobs. I was working in the community sector in mental health and disabilities; I stayed in the sector but shifted to a program for homeless people. I was managing a set of programs that provided meals and other services (information, showers, laundry and a string of other things) in the heart of Melbourne. Most “soup kitchens” focus on the evening. Our focus was making sure people got breakfast. We started before dawn, so we closed early, my staff finished by 12:30 and I was usually out the door by 2:00 pm. What that meant was a few hours in the afternoon to myself.
Guess what I did?
Not hard was it? I usually spent that time writing, in mere months I finished off my first book (already mostly done). Then began on the second.
Then I changed jobs again. I shifted out of the community sector into government. I am still in the homeless sector, but now I coordinate some state wide programs and provide policy advice. That left me a problem; I was going to lose my writing time. My commute time would double because I would be travelling in the rush and I would get home at the same time as the rest of the family.
Losing my writing time was not something I could bear. So I had to find a solution.
I switched from driving to catching the train.
So my commute has morphed into writing time.
My WIP is still progressing (about 5-10 times quicker than my first book).
So the moral of my rather convoluted tale is one key to writing as a non-professional is to set aside time. Time to write. In my experience fifteen minutes set aside for writing on a daily basis makes all the difference.
Maybe your active day (like mine does at the moment) begins before dawn and finishes only an hour or two before you hit the sack. But maybe your writing does not have to halt. Get creative with time. Perhaps there is something you can do differently to carve yourself a few minutes. I was lucky; I found a solution that gives me an hour or two each day. But it wouldn’t have happened if I had not taken the time to think about it.