Not words I like, but they must form part of my writing life going forward.
Most writers write every day. I don’t. I can go for weeks without putting down any words, but during those times, I’m likely editing a manuscript. I’m not sure how one can go from prolific to barely scratching out 2,500 words at the end of a week, but that describes me perfectly.
My novel writing career started at the end of 2004 and the last book I completed was just before NaNo 2009. Currently, I have seven completed projects, two of which have release dates for 2010. The third is waiting to be picked up from an editing queue.
On the back-burner are three incomplete novels and one for which I’m gathering research material. My most important work-in-progress (which has no business on the back-burner) is a stand-alone sequel for the novel being released next month. I had set myself a completion date of February 28, but as of today, I’m only halfway done. Yeah, I have an emergency on my hands, since this has to be edited and sent to the publisher in a timely manner. Being late with it is not an option.
Somewhere, I slacked off big time, and yet my days are busier than ever. I now work longer hours, which means I’m putting in less creative time. I’m trying to figure out exactly what I do when I sit behind the computer in the evenings after work.
My son’s computer is on the blink, so sometimes, when I get home, he’s in my seat playing 3D games, which are guaranteed to slow my pc to the consistency of molasses going uphill. D’you understand why I need a laptop?
By the time I pry him out of my chair, rather than going straight to my most important tasks, I read mail and see what’s happening on the networking scene. These activities are important, but since I do check in at some point during the day, they add up to redundancy.
There’s nothing like having a novel published to make you pay attention to how you use time. It’s been an eye-opener for me. My day—the parts of it that don’t belong to my employer— is now reduced to counting minutes.
Here are the chief ways I goof off and how I plan to fight back.
Chief Time Squanderers:-
~Facebook – Considering that the notifications are listed, I don’t need to check in more than twice per day. Anything more is addiction. Yeah, I’m close to that point.
~Twitter – I check for updates maybe once per day. I should use this networking tool more, not that I can spare any more time.
~Tweetdeck – This is a great tool I discovered recently, which helps me waste time on Facebook and Twitter without leaving my desktop. The updates are distracting, but yeah I could set this up so I pass through in one stopover to check what everybody else is doing.
~Thenextbigwriter.com – My chief writing hangout, where I don’t get to spend a lot of time anymore. Fact is, to get my work critiqued, I need to put in some reviews for other writers. This is something else that eats up chunks of time, however, the feedback I get there is worth a lot to me.
~Facebook & Twitter are activities I use to procrastinate. I check both networks and then decide to write, but before I do, I check the networks and my mail one more time. Inevitably, I get sidetracked and before I know it, 11:00 p.m. is staring me in the eyes and I haven’t written one word.
I’m going to allow myself 20 minutes to socialize each night and that’s it.
~Here’s where a bit of sacrificial activity comes into play. I now get up at 5:45 each morning to get my son ready for school. I figure if I get up at 5:00 a.m. I’ll pen a lot more words than I do now. I just have to remember not to check any mail at that time.
~To be able to think creatively at that hour of the morning means I’ll have to get some rest. So, bedtime has to be earlier. I’m looking at a cut-off point of 10:30. This shouldn’t be a hardship, since I have no reason to be up until 11:00 p.m.
~I’m going to write during my lunch break, like I used to. These days, I eat at the desk and catch up with the blogs I follow.
I’d like to think I can cut out NCIS and Law and Order, but that’s not gonna happen. Good thing I’ve seen some episodes several times already, so I’m only staring at the television with my jaw hanging loose once in a while.
~I bought a diary on Saturday. It’s late in the year, I know, but each day I’ll list all I need to get done and ensure I do them. This method will also keep me organized and ready to roll for the next round of book promotion.
~I do my reading and plotting en route to office and/or home, which saves some precious time.
Can you think of any other ways to nix timewasters? I’d really like to hear them.