Friday, May 12, 2017

Time Management


Once upon a time, I had 10, 12, even 13 hour writing days. This was not my atypical schedule, I'm not that ferocious, but it certainly happened...especially during deadlines. The only things to ever interfere with my writing day back then, were walking and spending quality time with the dog, getting more coffee, and bathroom breaks, a side effect from all the coffee. Looking back at my old self now, I see how spoiled with time I was. I was SO damn time-spoiled that I sometimes wrote a scene, then rewrote it twice, then rewrote it back to its original state. This was before I started saving my deleted scenes in a separate folder, and clearly I didn't need to; I had time coming out the ying-yang. I was Joffrey, sitting on my iron throne of time. I was Scrooge Mcduck, doing back strokes in my pool of spare minutes. DuckTales, anyone? I was that dude at the strip club, swiping 20 dollar time-bills out of my hand like they were nothing.

Fast forward a few years and add a baby, a strict schedule, and general life that you a) didn't care about when you're 22. Or b) opted out of because the time-fairy would soon return with a fresh bag of more time, just for you. Back in the day, I made a conscious decisions to not have a life outside of writing. If I had the option to hangout at the pool with friends, or write, I chose writing every time. Now that I have a child and have to lead by example, I can't do that anymore...unless, of course I want to raise an asocial recluse with agoraphobia.

So, here we are...time management.

There are 24 hours in a day and my baby naps about 2-3 hours if I'm lucky, spread out through the day. That's what I have. So, what do you do when your writing day is cut from 8-13 hours and down to 2-3?

One: Acceptance.

You cry a little, because you realize life is now different and there's nothing you can do but accept it.

Two: It's not how much time you have, it's how you use it.

The time you don't spend writing--e.g. changing diapers, doing spread sheets, going, Hi! Hello! Bye-Bye! Toodeloo! If you're a Walmart greeter--spend it thinking, plotting, and planning out your scenes. I've always been a big plotter, but I've generally let the scenes write themselves, only knowing the scene's opener, closer, and the plot point. I always liked the surprise of not knowing every event of every story-line before it was written. Sure, it took a few passes to get it right at times, but it was worth it for the chance to strike gold.

Well, luxuries like that are for people who bathe in time, which, again, I no longer do.
Also, because I know I'll have less time for rewrites later, I now need to feel sure about the direction of the scene before I start it.

Three: What can go?

Dinner? In order to live one supposedly needs to eat, so probably not.

Sleep? I can hear other parents laughing at this, because, well...it's not like there's much to begin with. But see if you can make it on one less hour of sleep 1-3 days a week, not 5-7. Whether you're a parent, a worker, or like most, both, set the alarm an hour early, or go to bed an hour later. It's amazing how much you can write in 60 minutes.

TV/Reading time? Most of us need to unwind, and it usually involves a TV. Since I love shows, movies, books, hell, I'd take story in pill form it they had it, I don't want to give up all my TV/Reading time, if I even get any. I am, however, willing to cut it down by a half hour to get some extra writing time.

Favorite pastimes?
My favorite thing to do now days is hangout with my daughter. Since she happens to be the cutest baby in the world, it's not something I'm willing to give up. Just yesterday she laughed at her own foot for fifteen minutes, and if that's not worth watching, I don't know what is. It falls under the Life category and it is, as the scientists put it, real friggin' important to body and mind. Writing makes your life better, and life makes your writing better. It's about balance.

Social Media Time?
Sorry, it has to go. Unless you're doing promos or work, cut it down. If you have time to scroll the newsfeed for 30 minutes, you have time to write. FYI: I took me three days to complete this post. Why? Because in times like these, that may or may not go down in my personal history as the Great Time Famine, I chose to write instead of write about writing. Make sense?

That's all I got. It's not much, but every minutes counts. Even if you only have one hour a week to write, and it takes you three years to finish a project, by the end of those three years, you'll actually HAVE a completed book. Yay! Meanwhile, if you instead spend those same three year saying "I don't have time to write." you'll have absolutely nothing. Boo!

As my favorite greeter once said: Thanks for shopping a Walmart. And, Toodeloo!


Mia Thompson is the author of an internationally bestselling New Adult Thriller series.  Her first two novels, STALKING SAPPHIRE and SILENCING SAPPHIRE, were published by Diversion Books in 2013.
authormiathompson.com


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