Why is it that the more time we have, the more time we seem to waste? Then, as that nasty deadline looms, we face crunch time. We don’t eat, bathe, tend to our chores, spend time with our families. All we do is sit at the keyboard until our joints ache and our ankles swell. Oh, to be sure, crunch time sees a fantastic turnout of word count and pages – some even worthy of keeping. But why not spread that production out – you know, that whole work-life balance thing?
Here are some reasons why I waste time:
- Afraid of being second best – I’ve been tip-tapping away at the keyboard, working on the “great American novel” for a lot of years now, and I have not one thing to show for it. I mean out in the real world, that is, either through traditional publishing or self-publishing. I’ve been told countless times that I’m my own worst enemy, but really! After all this time, what if my writing is for shit? What if some people are mean to me in their reviews? So I keep on keeping on, tweaking and editing, editing and tweaking. Moving from one project to another, but never actually finishing one. That way I never have to put myself out there. I never have to worry about failing, about negative comments.
- Time fills the space I have – If I have 30 minutes to get my blog written and posted, you can bet I’ll pound away until I hit that mark (or come damn close) But what if I have all weekend? Strange how that same 30-minute blog post will actually take all weekend to complete, and it won’t necessarily be better for all the extra time I had.
- Grandbaby (the new man in my life) – He’s nine months old now, but I’m still trying to figure out how not to miss one, single development discovery and at the same time manage, you know, to get some actual writing done. I’ll confess to not understanding this grandbaby obsession when I witnessed in others. I mean really? Two a.m. feedings, toys everywhere, and constantly being covered with spit up, snot, pee and poo. Now, seriously. What’s the appeal in any of that? Yeah, yeah. Go ahead and laugh. I deserve it, because I soooooooooooooooooo get it now.
- Research and Pinterest – For someone who really doesn’t like research, when I want to know something, I will spend a considerable amount of time surfing the Internet. And my newest Intranet time suck? Pinterest. It’s for my story, mind you. Mostly, I’m hunting for pictures of my characters. To be fair, I have found that my descriptions are much tighter and effective when I work from a picture, but two hours at one sitting? A bit much, IMO.
Anything I’ve ever read about time management stresses the idea of working smarter, not harder. Part of that, I’ve discovered, is setting aside specific blocks of time for certain things that you know are on the horizon. For example, with the WoC deadline looming at the end of this month, I’ve told my family that I’m busy all next week. Each night when I get home from work (except for RWA meeting night – this Tuesday) I will hit the keyboard and plug away until I have my chapters, my outline and my pre-writing notes completed. That gives me two weeks, a few hours each night. Spreading out my goals means that this weekend, I can play with my grandson without guilt.
And when the unexpected pops up? Well, we muddle through the best we can, adjusting our goals as needed. In the business world, that’s called managing expectations. Even though our endeavors are creative in nature, we can learn a lot from business. Off now to get me some baby sugars!
Lorinda Peake wrote her first ditty when she was ten on an English seashore while visiting her British grandmother. From then on, her family either acted in or were treated to plays, skits, or commercial spoofs. In school, she wrote poetry, fables and short stories.
Years later, she tossed down a particularly bad novel and thought, “I could do at least that well.” She’s been pursuing the elusive published novel ever since. Recently, she joined a group of fellow writers who decided to cajole, bully, encourage, and sometimes baby each other along towards the publishing goal by setting real and measurable writing objectives with “motivational” consequences for non-attainment.
Lorinda loves a good romance – all the more if it is wrapped in a great fantasy setting. She lives on the Texas Gulf Coast with her husband of 34 years.