Trapping The Wild Time Monster

A couple of posts I really liked lately that might not immediately seem related:

  • Nora Jemisin on the price of time (and how sometimes spending money to get yourself time is a wise calculation): "So I’ve had to reassess my life as a writer, and decide whether some things that I’d previously dismissed as too expensive on a financial basis were, in fact, costing me far more in the long run due to lost time."
  • Miriam Forster on "emotional flu" and taking downtime when you need it, like after finishing a giant project: "When you're physically sick, you need rest. Same goes for the emotional flu. So this week I'm going easy on myself.  No writing, no being productive at home unless I feel like it or it's urgent, like my husband running out of socks. No yelling at myself.  I'm going to go to work and spend time with my husband and pet the cat."

I recommend reading both in full. *waits*

Both of these really resonated with me, because of course we all have our own battles with time. And I get asked a lot how I manage to juggle all the things I regularly juggle (true answer: sometimes with little effort, sometimes with lots, most of the time somewhere in the middle). I definitely use both the techniques above.

I'm not particularly wise on the money front, but I agree that there are some things that it just pays to, well, pay for. For instance, if I have completely wrecked my neck hunching over papers or the laptop on a deadline or it's likely I will, I book a massage because I know I'll need it. (Yes, I realize this makes me sound like a brat, but I have learned from experience that it will often save emergency appointments and days of pain. Worth it.) The DVR, as Nora mentions too, is something I would sob and be very unhappy without…because:

One thing I do is try to give myself nights off. This isn't always possible. But we don't have kids, so more often than not it is. (Seriously, I'm in awe of anyone who manages to write and keep a household with children going, and I know there's often a day job in the mix too. *bows*) So, generally speaking, unless I'm on a major deadline, after 6 or 7 is play time. Brain dead time. Reading time. Going out to dinner time. Having a glass of wine and watching TV time. Twitter, blog reading or writing, etc. Guilt-free, all of it. This isn't exactly what Miriam is talking about, because that's something different–when you need a big chunk of relax, no-obligations-on-self, no-self-recrimination time to recharge. I'm not always so smart about taking that. But I do try to take some time every day that's "off." Otherwise, I go a little crazy.

I get up early just about every day and try to clock an hour minimum and two hours maximum of writing time before work. I also work during lunch. So that's three hours or so a day on the wip on a good day, at least an hour and a half on the bad days. Sometimes other things have to get subbed in here, but if I'm really in the middle of a book, I try to make sure I get the morning writing time in at a minimum.* During my writing time I don't mess around, and I don't have access to the web. That time is for writing only. Generally, that's about all the good time I have in me per day during a first draft anyway, so it's enough. Much more, and I'm burned out the next day. Revision takes bigger time chunks, so that's a little different, but.

Big freelance projects–proofing, PW pieces–mostly get done on the weekends, though they can slip into writing time on days I make word count and have time left over. For me, it's all about prioritizing. It's all about what's most pressing and how can I give it as much undivided time as possible until it's done? Because I find that multi-tasking is largely a fiction. It's a last resort. When I'm multi-tasking, the car is in the ditch, I am in the weeds. (I admire greatly those who can do it.)

And now…I have to go write an article. I'm definitely curious though, if anyone wants to talk about how they manage their days and writing time, feel free to in le comments.

*This is not to act like there aren't times when this gets disrupted because I really need the sleep instead or hit one of those natural pauses where there are a few days off, because there most definitely are.

2 thoughts on “Trapping The Wild Time Monster”

  1. Thanks for the links. Those were both well worth a read. As I posted to Nora’s blog, one of the best gifts my husband ever gave me was getting us a dishwasher. It has paid for itself in saved time about a million times over. But the DVR’s good, too.
    I’m envious of your ability to structure your time so effectively on a day to day basis, including the all-important rest time. I need to get better at that…once I recover from the emotional flu. 🙂

  2. Well, I don’t always manage it so well, but I try. 🙂
    GOOD GOD, dishwashers. Yes, the best invention ever. We didn’t have one when we first bought our house and it was the best purchase we ever, ever made. We hated cooking at home, because it was such a hassle to do the dishes, but then that’s expensive, which is stressful. Endless cycle.
    I am always fascinated by the ways people manage time.

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