Posts Tagged ‘distractions’
The Boston Marathon bombing was a horrendous tragedy, and plenty of folks more eloquent than I am have expressed their thoughts much better than I ever could.
Why’s that? I write romantic comedy. I don’t do well with dark moments, tears and a heavy heart. My whole family’s like that. There’s a reason we sat around cracking jokes before and after my dad’s funeral.
My predisposition to avoiding sadness is why, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, I stopped writing. Months — maybe even a year — passed before I shook the funk and continued with the story I’d been working on (“Blind Date Bride”). I didn’t feel like being funny when the world as we knew it had changed forever.
But that was more than a decade ago, and if I’m going to be published before I’m too old to enjoy the victory, I don’t have the luxury of taking another six months to a year off. Besides, I signed up for the NaRoNoWriMo (National Romance Novel Writing Month) challenge to write 40K in April. I’m woefully behind — and was even before Monday’s attack. A couple of new rejections have waylaid me more than I’d like to admit. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but my skin apparently isn’t as tough as it needs to be.
In keeping with the spirit of trying to get back in the swing of things, I made myself a note:
The sentiment is from my fellow NARWAns, Karen and Anne Marie. We were gathered for some writing time at Starbucks Thursday, and when I confessed I was struggling, they gave me a gentle shove in the right direction.
I will write — not only for myself, but also for anyone who needs to boost their mood … who wants a good laugh … who, like me, uses humor to cope with their deepest, darkest doubts.
I will write because if we stop doing what we want — if we don’t continue to follow our dreams — the terrorists win.
Uh-uh. Not on my watch.
Let’s get something straight: I might not be the best choice to talk about time management.
As I sat preparing the remarks about time management I was supposed to deliver — less than 12 hours before I was set to deliver them — I certainly felt like a fraud.
Then I remembered there’s a lot on my plate. I work 40-plus hours a week at the day job, spend quality time with the Boyfriend, run a growing weight-loss blog and have just started working out regularly again, thanks to my entry in an online bootcamp class.
Despite all that, I still manage to write for one to two hours most days of the week. In the past year, I’ve not only done some pretty heavy revising on two manuscripts, but also written first drafts of two more. I also attended my first RWA Nationals, took on the vice presidency of my local RWA chapter and edited/laid out six issues of the chapter newsletter.
What’s the secret, you ask?
Not so fast. First, a look at the things that keep me (and others) from writing:
- Commitments to work/family/friends. I admit, I have it easier than writers with children/spouses who expect dinner on the table at a certain time. If I decide not to stop writing to cook a meal, the only one I’m hurting is myself.
- Procrastination. Self explanatory, right?
- Social media time-sucks. Twitter and Facebook, I’m looking at you. Pinterest too. It’s all too easy to fritter away an hour — or more — pinning, tweeting or reading all my friends’ status updates.
Let’s tackle the last one first. Author Jody Hedlund recently wrote a blog post on three ways to keep social media from taking over your writing time.
The other two can be managed by making writing a priority.
Yes, it’s hard to juggle writing with all the other responsibilities of day-to-day life. But if you’re going to be a writer, you have to make time to write. It’s non-negotiable.
I’ve gotten pretty good at making time to write. In fact, I’m so good at it that other things — like my talk on time management — fall by the wayside. 😉
What are your tips for effective time management?
I believe it was Robert Burns who coined the saying about the best-laid plans of mice and men often going awry. John Steinbeck borrowed part of it for his “Of Mice and Men.”
Not that I’m trying to compare myself to these literary greats (yet), but I can definitely say that the best-laid plans for my vacation went way off track.
I had two whole weeks off work. I planned to shop for my GH awards ceremony dress, work on fixing my finalist MS so it’s ready for a judge request and do some plotting (and maybe even write new material) for Dave and Melinda’s story.
Only one of those things got done. I found a dress. That was it — I didn’t even get matching shoes or the proper undergarments. In two weeks of not having to go to the day job, the revising, plotting and writing just didn’t happen.
I spent a lot of quality time with the Boyfriend — and spent even more in the kitchen, whipping up delicious Atkins-approved meals. (I recommitted to a low-carb diet while on vacation.) On days the Boyfriend left to work or play tennis, I spent more time playing online than working.
I did actually sit down to rewrite once or twice, but didn’t spend long enough with the MS to get much accomplished.
As you can tell, I also ignored the blog. My last post was written on May 2. May 2? How am I going to build an audience if I only blog every two weeks?
I promise to start doing better, y’all — both with my writing AND the blogging. I want to write for a living … it shouldn’t be this hard.
That’s right: Distraction is whupping my rear in a big way these days. If there’s a down side to being a Golden Heart® finalist, that would be it.
Until recently, I had a routine: A little writing/blogging before and/or after work. Now, with all the new and ramped-up tasks on my to-do list, I spend way too much of my time trying to focus on any one thing.
And the task at hand is rarely writing.
This morning, it was updating my website. I just switched from wordpress.com to wordpress.org so I can make better use of the arlenehittle.com domain name I purchased last year.
While it was relatively easy to make the change, I still have to rebuild a lot of things, like my blogroll. I also must figure out how to get a cool stats tracker in my dashboard and get on the phone with the webhosting folks to figure out how to configure my computer … I kept getting an error message involving a firewall and it was like it was written in Russian. I’m not even sure where to find my firewall.
Yesterday morning, I managed to write a couple hundred words. On Sunday I eked out a full thousand … and then decided to scrap them all and start the scene in a different place.
I’ve heard other writers say that they spend very little of their time actually writing new stories. I now know exactly how they feel.
Well, it’s off to accomplish something before bed.