A Hard Lesson to Learn

Whenever someone asks me how I manage to get so much writing done, this is the answer I give them:

I don’t have kids and the BF works an opposite schedule.

And that’s the truth. Or, well, part of it.

The reality of it is my time management skills suck balls. They are really, truly terrible. I’m incredibly anal about some things, and having everything organized is one of them (just ask the BF). That goes for my time, as well, so I created a schedule for my weeknights. It goes a little something like this:

  • Gym – 3:30-4:30
  • Write – 4:30ish to 6pm
  • Dinner – 6 to 7
  • 7-9pm: read/catch up on TV shows/hang out with the BF if possible
Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’, into the future…

Want to know how it usually ends up? The only one of those items that actually adheres to the schedule is my gym time. Every evening, when I sit down to write, I promise myself I’m going to stop at six so I can make dinner and eat it and enjoy it, instead of racing through it because by the time I get around to making it I’m starving. After dinner I usually end up back at my computer for another half hour to an hour, leaving me with only an hour to read or whatever (yes, I go to bed ridiculously early. You would too if you had to be up at five and then spend your day being nice to people. Being nice to people is incredibly difficult on not enough sleep.)

A big part of it is I’m the world’s most undisciplined writer. I can’t write in a Word document. I’ve tried. I just can’t do it. It’s like this mental block between me and that blinking cursor, and the damn cursor wins every time. So I work in Google Docs, which has two benefits: I don’t have to worry about backing up my work, because it saves every few seconds automatically and it saves to the Cloud or whatever the hell Google uses, and I can work from anywhere and on any computer with an internet connection.

But it also means that I spend a hell of a lot of time poking around the web. I waste a few minutes on Twitter, write a few sentences or maybe a few paragraphs, and then I waste more time looking up stuff as it occurs to me, regardless of whether it has anything to do with what I’m writing about at the moment. You combine this with another anal quality of mine (needing to hit at least 1,000 words a day) and that equals quite a bit of time spent in front of the keyboard that could have easily been cut in half. But hey, it used to be worse. I used to keep pushing until I’d finished the chapter. So I was writing a chapter a day, and my chapters average about 2,500 words.

So all that surplus comes at a price. Other shit doesn’t get done. We’re supposed to move in a few weeks and I’m surrounded by empty boxes. The house needs to be cleaned. I’ve been working on a blanket for my nephew for two years now and it’s still not finished. There’s laundry that needs to be folded and put away, which seriously takes what, five minutes to do? I’ve yet to watch this week’s episode of The Blacklist (which is, by the way, fucking amazing) and my plans to catch up on all six episodes of Sherlock before series three starts this winter are slowly dribbling away.

Sometimes it’s not so bad. Sometimes the words just keep on coming and I can write that 1,000 words in less than an hour (and then I keep on going until I’ve finished the damn chapter). On the weekends, I usually end up writing at least two chapters, often more. But there are days when every single one of those words is like having a tooth pulled without anesthesia. It doesn’t help that I sit there and think about all the fantastic stories I want to write if only I could finish this current one.

I’m going to try harder. I’m going to step away from the keyboard every weeknight at 6pm and make myself a dinner that isn’t scrambled eggs. Although those do sound good right now…

4 thoughts on “A Hard Lesson to Learn

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