Tag Archives: time management

Writing, Blogging, and Wearing Pants

Some weeks seem to go on forever, stretching like a piece of hot mozzarella. Others… Well, I’m not quite sure where the last seven days went. It doesn’t seem like I should be writing another writing wrap-up yet. But my calendar says its Wednesday, and who am I to argue? (If for no other reason than because the calendar is much better at stony silence than I am.)

I’m pleased to say that I’m now on day 16 of my 100 Words for 100 Days challenge. This week I wrote 1000 wordson my WIP, whic brought me to the end of chapter 2, and a good way through chapter 3. I’m also back to writing “new stuff”, which is super-double-exciting (as my 4-year-old would say). I’m really enjoying my writing, and am looking forward to continuing to nail those words to the page.

If you were reading last week, you may remember that I was a bit disappointed in myself when I only wrote 900 words for the week. A couple of people pointed out that I shouldn’t be disappointed when I’d succeeded in reaching my goal, and that set me to thinking.

What is my goal?

100 Words for 100 Days is great. It’s fantastic. It encourages me to write every day, rather than “saving up” for a couple of big writing days a week. And that’s why I started the challenge in the first place. (Which is why I can’t just “skip a day” and then continue with the challenge.) But writing 100 words every day doesn’t feel like much of an achievement. I want that 100 words to be the minimum acceptable level of writing, not the target.

That got me thinking about what I’m actually aiming for, and I was able to put it into words when I was talking with a great writing-buddy last Sunday. I’m going to put it out there now for everyone to see, and damn the torpedoes.

I want to finish the first draft of this novel by the end of October.

There are a multitude of reasons for this. (1) I also want to take part in NaNoWriMo this year, and it would be easier if I have finished this project and can move on to without guilt. (2) After NaNo, I will hopefully have achieved some emotional separation from this novel, and will be able to look at editing it in December. (3) At the beginning of the year, I said that I was going to take this year off work to concentrate on writing, so that I could prove to myself that I could make a career of it. (Alright, I was also having a baby, but let’s ignore that for the moment.) Finishing by the end of October gives me a better chance of doing so. (4) Because I damn well want to, and I’m just stubborn like that.

I still believe I can achieve this goal, but it means that I need to be writing almost 5000 words a week, not 1000. Something needs to change. A lot of somethings need to change. But the primary one is the amount of writing time I have on a daily basis.

My first thought was that I could save myself an hour or two every day if I sent my kids out to scavenge their own food on the streets, rather than spending all that time preparing, cooking, serving, and cleaning up dinner each night. But that seemed a little unfair. Especially since Baby can’t even crawl yet.

Instead, I’ve decided to cut back on blogging.

Up until now, I’ve been blogging every day. And loving it. But I can grant myself a bit extra time each week by cutting out a couple of posts, and I’ll still be posting 5 times a week. My new blogging schedule looks like this:

  • Monday: Monday’s Top 5 – A list of my 5 favourite posts from the blogosphere last week.
  • Tuesday: Flash Fiction – This may not happen every week, but will be a chance for me to stretch my storytelling muscles in a different direction, and share the results with you, my readers.
  • Wednesday: All things Writing – Incorporating my usual Wednesday Writing Wrap-Up and Friday’s Writing Thoughts.
  • Friday: Life As We Know It – Kids, Parenting, Opinions, and other Random Things.
  • Saturday: Books, Authors, and Other Geekery.

This is going to start as of ….. now. So wish me luck with writing rather than posting tomorrow!

In a mostly unrelated topic…

I don’t just spend my time writing long, rambling blog posts. I also spend it reading blogs. At last count, I was subscribed to just over 70 blogs through Google Reader. Of those 70, I’d hazard a guess that 50 are related to writing, writers, or publishing in some shape or form. So I read a lot of posts about how to write, how to edit, how to get an agent, how to get published, how to self-publish, etc. etc. etc. I also try to read as many of the comments other people post as possible.

Over the last week, I’ve become increasingly aware of how many people preface their comments with phrases like: “I’m a pantser, so I don’t…” or “I can’t do that, because I’m a planner…” or “Because I’m a pantser, I only….” or even “I’m part of the ‘planner’ club, and…”

Really? Because I don’t remember getting my secret decoder ring when I joined the panster club.

Now, I’m not saying that Pansters and Plotters don’t exist. But I didn’t think the two styles were so mutually exclusive that the skills of one don’t apply to the other. Nor did I think we were supposed to add our preferred style to the end of our name, like some kind of class designation. “Hello. I’m Jo Eberhardt – Panster Extraordinaire.”

(If there’s any non-writers still brave enough to be reading this, let me explain. Pansters sit and write by the “seat of their pants”, watching the story unfold as they do so. Plotters work out the plot first, often via a detailed outline, before they start to write.)

It’s easy to fall back on something like being a pantser or a plotter as a way of avoiding stepping outside our comfort zones. It’s not impossible to move from one camp to the other. It’s not impossible to use different styles for different projects. And while it may be helpful to understand your own preferred writing style, I don’t think it’s helpful to pigeon-hole yourself so tightly that you don’t expand your skill base.

What do you think?

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Weekly Wednesday Writing Wrap-Up #9

This week has been quite full-on. Between vaccinations for the boys, and a visit to the emergency room with my 4-year-old (he fell over and cut his face quite badly), I’ve had a lot of excitement, action and trauma that’s been completely unrelated to writing. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t had some writing successes as well.

Firstly, I seem to have beaten the minor writer’s block that I was feeling. I know, I know, writer’s block is all in your head. And I know I hadn’t mentioned it. I think I’ve just been so excited by my entire novel idea, and the non-outlining outlining that I’ve done, that I was finding it hard to get my head into the nuts and bolts of actually writing the damn thing. It’s like vomiting razor blades, I tell you.

But I have been writing again. And now I feel like I’m on a bit of a roll. So, onwards and upwards!

Speaking on onwards and upwards, I’ve also put together a basic synopsis of a 2nd and 3rd book in the series. Am I getting ahead of myself? Yes. But it’s given me a bit of an opportunity to do some meta-world-building that wasn’t necessarily relevant to my current book. And, again, I feel like I’m on a roll. I know the overall story arcs of some of the characters, and that gives me something to aim towards.

I also found myself quite enamoured with Kay Hudson’s ‘Writing a Novel One Hundred Words at a Time’. The basic premise is that you commit to writing a minimum of 100 words every day, for 100 days. If you miss a day, then you have to start again. Writing 100 words is nothing. It takes less than 10 minutes. So, in the spirit of my thoughts on time management yesterday, I have decided to start doing this. Ideally I’ll write more than the 100 words, but it’s a good way to make sure that I never use the “I didn’t have time” excuse.

Anyone interested in joining me?

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Hours for sale: Get ’em while they’re hot!

Writing is hard work. It takes time, dedication, time, practice, inspiration, time, persistence, time and time. Among other things. And being a professional writer isn’t just about the writing.

As Kristen Lamb explains, being a professional writer means writing, reading, perfecting the craft, editing, organising, marketing, planning, researching, blogging, speaking, teaching, and running a business.

So how do you fit it all into an already busy schedule??

Yuvi Zalkow has recently completed and posted the second episode in his “I’m a Failed Writer” series, and this one is about Time Management. In this episode, he advises that he can solve all of your time management issues with 3 simple words:

Have A Baby

Yuvi then goes on to talk about our relationship to time, rather than any specific time management techniques. It reminds me of the quote from Lucille Ball:

If you want something done, ask a busy man to do it.
The more things you do, the more you can do.

Although I don’t have a lot of “free time” I try to use it to my best advantage. And I do as much multi-tasking as I can. For example, I use the time spent rocking my baby to sleep to read other blogs, and plan my own blog posts. I also keep pages of my WIP with me all the time  in case I have a few spare minutes to do some editing (eg. in a doctor’s waiting room).

What kind of relationship do you have with your free time?
Any tips you’d like to share?

(But in all seriousness, if someone finds a way to create and sell extra hours to add into a day, please let me know. I’ll be first in line.)

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