The other day I got a chance to brag about writing. A proper chance, too. Not one of those long winded life stories that makes people’s eyes roll around like lazy Fentanyl drenched marbles. A writer friend was genuinely curious and asked what I had been up to regarding writing.
That’s a dangerous question to ask a person devoted to a lonely art.
So I described my current workload. To that novella of a text I was asked the follow-up, “How do you organize so many projects?”
Hmm. It’s not really that many, but I’ve seen the same question pop up a few other times recently. I answered my friend thusly.
Identify what needs the greatest imaginative attention. That’s usually rough drafts and early revisions. Those demand the most energy. For me that’s the first part of the day, when the coffee is fresh and the day is long.
Identify what needs attention, but not imagination. Sorry to say, but I typically reserve the after imagination hours to reading other people’s work. I simply can’t sacrifice my best for someone else’s revisions. Beyond that, I’ll take this time to hammer out my own edits. Simple stuff from tidier versions. Also blog posts and social media bits.
Identify the most mundane tasks. These I save for the last part of the day. I use paper so I spend the evening transcribing my day’s work. This is also when I do my research. Look for outlets, reply to emails, adjust plans. And it’s where I organize for the next day.
Identify with readers. How’s that? By reading. Always read before bed. And any other part of the day, but especially before bed. It puts words and ideas in your mind right before the subconscious jumbles them up and turns them into dreams of the future.
That’s my basic process. Pretty easy.
I’ve heard thousands of other scheduling formulas and every one of them works for the person espousing that system. Spend sixty minutes an hour and you’ll be published overnight. Commit just one minute a month and you’ll be on your way. Categorize according to moon cycles. Whatever works, as long as it works and what works for me is understanding my creative energy dwindles throughout the day so I prioritize accordingly. If you do your best work at night switch it all up. Read in the morning, research at noon, blogs and Twitter in the evening and novel write by cricket chirps.
I talked to another writer with this question and as she described her insanely hectic life I couldn’t help but admire her dedication. She asked because she was desperate. She can only commit one single hour a night to writing. She’s not happy about it, but work schedules, children and starting a business all consume her finite time, but she writes. She writes on top of all of that because she loves it. All I could say is that at the end of each night at least she has one hour closer then she was the previous night.
Then there’s the people who make me feel like I’m standing still. Writing tons, blogging, forming publishing companies, editing, continuing their education, marketing, hosting workshops and still managing the rest of life. Granted, their schedules are different than mine, but I’m still jealous.
That is the work life I’m striving for, though I’m not yet ready for the business end. I’m currently committed purely to writing.
But how do they do it? My busy friends take their responsibilities in bite sized chunks. There’s no way anyone can do all of that at once. So instead of committing their best hours to specific endeavors, they commit entire days to one aspect of the writing business. Covers, ISBNs, queries, websites, social media and the billion other details that go into self publishing.
And the number one way to maintain production throughout the constraints of life—Don’t play social media more than you have to. Sure, it’s important, but it doesn’t write your book. Only you can do that with the limited time you have. Now, quit reading this and go write.