Thursday, October 17, 2013
Lots of writers have their own systems, but if you are anything like me, I'm pretty sure you struggle with finding the balance that's necessary to live a normal life but also write, edit, publish, market...even the dreaded query letters. And lots of successful authors have shared their tips, so what qualifies me to add my voice?
Nothing really. Except that I'm busy and I successfully write at the same time. But to appease your need for adequate ethos, here's what I've got going on: I am a mother to three toddlers, ages 4, 2, and 1. I homeschool them three days a week, and take care of the house they destroy. I'm a full-time student, graduating this semester with my Bachelors from Brigham Young University-Idaho. I'm a blogger (obviously), and I've written two novels while in school and with children. My first was accepted and published by Malachite Quills Publishing, I have a third novel half-written with a co-author, and I'm self-publishing my second.
Okay, you get the idea. I'm busy. And to be perfectly honest with you, I'm stressed a lot. I have freak-outs
on a regular basis, and can often be seen rage quitting and having a Netflix marathon instead of doing...anything. But I still manage to get it all done, and I figured I'd share how to see if it helps you at all.
Also I like lists, so that's the format I chose for my tips:
1.) Make lists. No, seriously, you gotta write down things that jump to your brain. Trying to cement a thought in your brain to get to later never works for me. If I don't write it down somewhere, it usually dies the death of a lost sock--gone until you realize too late that you need it.
2.) Speaking of writing it down, use a planner. It can be a physical planner, it can be on your smartphone..tablet...thing...but get one. I use a regular planner because I'm cheap and refuse to pay for a smartphone.
3.) Be specific with your plans. For example, when I'm juggling schoolwork with other things, I make a detailed chart. In red, I write when something is due (day and time). In black, I write when I plan to actually do it. What this allows you to do is break up all the work you know you'll have to do that week, and then see what time is left over. If you're finding that even after meticulously breaking everything down and sticking to it, you're without hours to write, see what can go. Can't get the laundry done one day? It's fine! Which leads me to...
5.) Be dedicated to writing when you can. Sometimes I plan for a "writing block," but more often than not it
will sneak up on me. One day the kids will all zonk out at the same time for naps, and instead of eating snacks and catching up on my Hulu shows, I give myself a pep talk and write. When we writers are crunched for time, sometimes we don't have the luxury of "feeling it." I'm a big proponent of writing first, editing later. Just get it out--whatever scene you're feeling the most--and go back to revise later if you need to. Something is better than nothing (most of the time...you need a good crap-o-meter to write the way I do. Sometimes mine is broken, but thankfully I'm blissfully unaware.)
6.) Motivate yourself. I hate to admit this, but maybe you will relate: My best motivation is jealousy. It's so petty, I know, but when I see another writer doing really well because they worked hard, guess what it makes me want to do? Yup! Sometimes I'll read a YA novel, and it gives me that "I can do this!!!" feeling. That doesn't work for everyone, so whatever motivates you, find it, and then use it. Songs and poems and meditation don't do it for me. I need a kick in the butt, personally.
The bottom line is you have to be dedicated to doing it. If you don't plan out your tasks for the week so they are evenly spaced out, you end up with crazy days where you can barely find time to eat, and then you feel burned out and on the days you do have free time, the last thing you want to get into are obligations.
So for what it's worth, I hope that gave you something helpful to use. I haven't figured out anything magical or revolutionary. Usually when people ask me, "How do you do it all?" my default response is, "I don't sleep!" That's not exactly a solution I can write a best-selling how-to book on, but it is the truth, and it does work for me.
So how about you? Do you have any time management tips?