Getting Stuff Done

This one’s for the lovely Scarlet Wilson who told me on Twitter that I needed to blog about time management. And since I always do what I’m told, I thought I’d better go do it. 🙂

First up, there are a few things that work in my favour when it comes to fitting in writing around everything else that’s going on in your life:

1. I do not have a day job. I’m lucky enough in we can scrape by on Dr Jax’s earnings. It’s been very hard though and I’m so hoping that I can make a bit of money next year to pay him back for all the support he’s given me.
2. My kids are 11 and 6 and go to school during the day. So I have the school day to write. 
3. I write very fast. 

Okay so here’s what I have to do in the next few months. I’m just starting out here as a newly contracted author (secret thrill as writes those words) so I’m still as but a learner in the ways of publishing. I’ve only just got a deadline. My book for Entangled won’t be out till probably around spring 2013 so I have quite a while to wait before edits come along. However I know that I will have work to do for something else (of which I can’t speak) around September. My first Entangled deadline is not till October but I want to get my second book to my editor by August (conference month) plus there’s another book (novella) I want to write and get sent by then too.Which will leave me September free to concentrate on the other work and other stuff I may need to do. It’s all about forward planning…

Anyway, with all that in mind, right now I have two books to write by August.  These aren’t editor-set goals but my own because I want to get them away before I go to conference and before things hit in September. Now with school holidays coming up, I know I won’t be able to do as much as I’d like to so I want to be able to get as many words down as possible now.

So here are my tips for getting it done, in no particular order:

1. Be selfish when it comes to the writing. I am. I always have been. I prioritise it over a lot of other things because it’s my passion and my job. I did this even when I was working full time. In fact, I left my day job because I was serious about writing (and I had the luxury of doing so). Yes, it’s harder when you have a day job but if it’s what you want to do then you’ll make it work. 

2. If you’re selfish about your writing then you’ll probably feel guilty about it as well. I feel guilty about not spending enough time with my family and friends. But then women tend to do that. We feel guilty about everything. If you don’t feel guilty more power to you, but I’ve had to learn to live with mine. Guilt is part of the deal and you either let it kill your writing or you accept it and move on. 

3. Accept that the sometimes the house will be messy. I’m afraid cleaning house is waaaaaay down my list of priorities. If I was working full time I wouldn’t be cleaning during the day so why should I just because I work from home?

4. If you have kids then sometimes the TV just has to go on. See #2 about guilt.

5. Know your process and adjust accordingly.  I know I find the beginning difficult but I will get into it by the mid-point. I know I hate first drafts so getting it down as quickly as possible is also good. I know I need to let the ms sit for a week or longer before I edit. Which means I have to give myself enough time for a ‘rest period’.

6. If #2 is eating you alive, set aside some non-writing times. At the risk of sounding sickening, I never have a problem with making myself write. I do have a problem with not writing. I’m obsessional when I’m in the midst of a story and I don’t want to anything else. So I have to make myself take non-writing time to save my hands and also to prevent my family from killing me. Hehe.
My least productive writing time is at night so that’s my downtime. I spend time with family and assuage my #2 issues. 😉

7. Push through the times when you think your ms sucks and you think it’s the WORST BOOK EVA. Whine to your CPs, your husband, your cat. Deal with it however you like. Just keep going and get the words down. You can edit it later.

8. Write every day when you can. I don’t sleep in these days so I use the mornings in the weekends to write.

So there you go, that’s how I get my writing done.The main thing really is the prioritising it. Then making yourself do it. And also about balancing the things you can live with and the things you  can’t. I can live with a dirty house. I can’t live with not meeting my deadlines. I can live with feeling guilty about putting on the TV for the kids. I can’t live with not writing.

I guess this might seem a little disingenous coming from someone who’s only just got a contract. I mean, I haven’t had revisions or edits or promo stuff or anything else to do yet, so I don’t know how I’ll balance it all then. But I’ll guess I’ll have to learn.

Anyone have any other tips about getting the writing done? Apart from adding a couple more hours to the day??

10 thoughts on “Getting Stuff Done”

  1. Woo hoo! You did it! Well done! But – you still owe me David Tennant in the Tardis. I do feel, however, if you give me him I might never write again!
    I definitely agree with the friends thing but am not sure whether that’s due to the writing or constant juggling of children’s night time activities.
    My only tip is to write 1000 words everyday. It’s manageable and everybody can do it.

  2. Oh my! Have you been in my head? I feel and think every thing you said. Thank you for helping me realize I am not the only one that feels this way!

  3. Scarlet – *hands over David Tennant and the Tardis* But they’re on loan only, okay? 🙂 Yeah, it is a juggle. And sometimes it’s just having to accept the sacrifices. No, you don’t spend as much time with your friends as you would like. But I guess if you’re working a day job and writing, you have TWO jobs. And there’s no easy way to fit everything around two jobs.
    I like the 1k a day. That works well.

    Rach – thanks my lovely. You’re a star! And a busy star. 🙂

    Alli – Hehe. Nope, you’re definitely NOT the only one! Hope sharing helped!

  4. Great post Jackie. I need to constantly work at time management, my greatest enemies being guilt and procrastination. I’m getting better though and find that making lists of what I want to acheive each day and week helps me focus.

  5. Pamela – that sounds awesome. Guilt is a terrible thing and so hard to overcome. I’ve kind of conditioned myself to not think about it but it’s always there. Procrastination is always there too!
    Well done with the lists. You gotta do what works for you I reckon!

  6. Jackie, great post! I love what you said about guilt. It’s true. If I’m honest with myself I felt guilty before I was a writer (house not clean enough, didn’t read enough books to the children whatever I could make up) and that goes a long way in helping me manage it now.

    My advice? Just like work, you have to schedule time. And work during that time. Writing is my job, if I don’t get it done, I don’t get paid. That means I better WORK.

    Get up early or stay up late. I do either one depending on what’s happening in life. I get less sleep sometimes. Like the guilt, I live with it.

    Set goals. I set goals daily, weekly, and a goal for when I want to finish the book. These goals are not my actual deadline. So far, this has worked for me, and I’ve always been able to turn my books in early.

    Write when you don’t feel like it. (work like it’s a job, remember?)

  7. Maisey – totally with you there, m’dear. You have been my time-management inspiration you know. Especially writing even when you think your ms sucks. That’s been very important for me since I tend to slow down and stop when things get hard.

    Caroline – hehe! Yeah, I’m pretty dedicated. I just love writing so that’s what I do. 🙂

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