Carving Out The Time By Lauralynn Elliott

But I just don’t have TIME to write! I have to do this, and this, and THIS.

 

These are things I’ve said before. While my house was in CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome, ref. flylady.net) and paperwork piled up, you would think I was spending the time writing. But I wasn’t. So what was I doing with all that time I could be writing? Well, here’s what was happening. Since I started doing line editing (proofreading), I got so overwhelmed by it, my mind would shut down and I couldn’t handle anything related to work. So I was playing computer games. I was watching TV. I was messing around with my iPad. It’s amazing how much time can be spent on just those things. The next thing you know, it’s bedtime, the house is still cluttered, and no writing was done. That’s okay. I’ll think about that tomorrow. (I call that Gone with the Wind syndrome.)

 

So what can we do about our time? Can we add more hours into the day? Um, no, that’s kind of set in stone. Can we slow down the time? Nope. So what can we do? Make the time count. Use the time wisely. Prioritize. I know…this takes discipline, doesn’t it? And our inner rebel doesn’t like discipline. And, being creative people, we are free spirits. Right? But does that get things accomplished? I don’t think so. So I have a few things that I’ve learned, mostly about how to carve out bits of time to do the things that need to get done.

 

1)      Do the most important things first. That way, if you don’t get around to everything, you’ll know you did what had to be done.

2)      Find little snippets of time to do things. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish in a short period of time. A little during your lunch break. Maybe a bit while dinner is cooking.

3)      Sprint. I’ve learned about this from two different sources. The first one has to do mostly with housework. On http://flylady.net/, she suggests doing housework in increments of 15 minutes. You work that long on one thing, take a break for a little while, then work on something else. FlyLady says you can do anything for 15 minutes. (My husband says you can’t hold your breath that long, LOL.) And then I learned how to do that with writing from Virginia Nelson (http://www.authorvsnelson.com/), a warm and funny lady who writes full time. I’ve taken her class three times, once at Buildin’ the Dream and twice at RNC. To sum it up, you write for 15 minutes (or whatever time works for you), then take a break to do something else (throw a load of laundry in the washer, get a cup of coffee, etc.). While you’re on break, you’re supposed to think about the next scene, then you go back for another 15 minutes and write that scene. Here’s the kicker. You can’t backspace or correct anything during your sprint. Get the words on paper. You can fix them later. This just KILLS my inner editor, but I’ve done it in her class, and it amazes me how many words I can write in 15 minutes (although, some of those words end up looking like words from the language of planet Jupiter). So using these two methods, you can get housework done and get writing done.

4)      Give yourself days off. Treat this like a real work week. I take off Wednesdays and Sundays, and I don’t write or edit on those days. If you don’t get a break, you burn out.

5)      Don’t procrastinate. How many times have we sat down to write, only to get on social media and play around because we don’t want to get started on our manuscript? Stop it. Social media isn’t the priority. See #1.

6)      Reward yourself with games and fun…AFTER you’re done writing. This one is hard for me. I love playing Big Fish games on my computer, and I want to do it RIGHT NOW. But good self-discipline will make me…well, see #1. I’m still working on this.

 

These are just a few things I had in my head. I’m currently working on two paid editing jobs, and another I’m working on when I can for a friend, and I’m trying to write my own book. I work full time. I NEED to read my own post over and over.

 

What about you? Do you find yourself needing more time? If so, you’ll need to carve it out from somewhere. Let’s all do what we can to be more productive!

 ~*~

Lauralynn Elliott

9 comments

  1. What timing! I found this quote, probably on twitter (my time waster extraordinaire!) by Bruce Lee: “If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made of.” Wonderful post – filled with great ideas.

  2. Great post, ladies, one that definitely deserves a bookmark. I can’t seem to manage settling
    in for 15 minutes of writing, but have been applying that principle to basement cleaning before school starts up again. Of course, 15 miniatures become 2 hours, but that’s still better than an entire day dedicated to that project I despise (the basement). Thank you! Time to get the laundry in….

    1. Thanks, Joanna! I’ve learned a lot from FlyLady and Virginia Nelson about making time count, so I’m trying to apply those principles. Each one of us knows what amount of time feels comfortable and not too tiring. I can do a lot of things for 15 minutes and not feel overwhelmed. And, yes, that often ends up being longer.🙂 Whatever works.

      1. My “15” minutes in that one spot of the basement turned into four hours. They were very productive hours, but I’m sure task avoidance fit into the bigger picture.

  3. Love this, Lauralynn. Thank you so much for pulling together these helpful strategies for focusing and accomplishing the writing! I will take to heart your suggestion to take a day off as right now I’m working 7/7. That day off is especially needed when starting a new project. Also, I found these 10 tips for ending writer’s block that may help http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/writingroadblocks/tp/block.htm And, finally, I’m so with you re Big Fish games (and FlyLady). What do you recommend???? I can’t seem to find anything fun past Plants & Zombies!!! Lovely post!

    1. Thanks, Beth. You NEED to take that day off! I need to check out your link about writer’s block, too. As far as Big Fish games, I might need to do a blog post on which ones I like. LOL. I’m into the hidden object/adventure ones, but lately, I’ve been doing some of the building games. My favorite building games are Gardens, Inc. and Gardens, Inc. 2.🙂

  4. Great advice. I particularly love sprints. When I set a timer and focus, it’s amazing what I can get done in a relatively short amount of time. And I love the acronym CHAOS. SO true!

    1. I love being organized, and I am at work. But at home, and in my writing, I used to REALLY fall short. But I’ve been taking some of this advice, and it really helps. Just finding those moments where you can do something makes a difference. It amazes me how little time you really spend on tasks that you dread because you THINK they take a long time. I can clean up the dishes in the sink in five minutes most of the time. I can clean off the coffee table in less time than that.

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