Happy Friday, everybody! It’s week 36 of the Marketing for Romance Writers 52–Week Blog Challenge and today’s topic is Managing My Writing Time.
This week’s post is going to have to be short and sweet. The power cord on my laptop has died, and I have very little battery life left. I ordered a new cord. It arrived, but didn’t fit the computer despite the seller’s claims that it would, so I’ve hd to order another one and am waiting with bated breath for it to arrive. Meanwhile, I’m running on very limited battery power.
I learned early in my career that nobody is going to protect my writing time for me. If I don’t take my writing seriously, nobody else will. I can’t count on anybody else to protect my writing time on my behalf. Since I was a single mom with young kids, I had to get creative about how to carve out time for writing while also giving my kids the attention they needed (and deserved.)
In those days, I was also working a stressful job in the federal court system, which usually ate up far more than 40 hours of my time during the week. I would work, come home, interact with my kids, oversee homework, listen to school woes, and then stumble into my office at 9:00 when the kids were in bed, to begin my writing day. I’m a morning person and always have been, but I knew myself well enough to know that if I tried to write before work, I would never actually go to work, so I made myself write at night. I wrote until I just couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer and then roll into bed (my “office” was in my bedroom, so that part was easy.)
On the weekends, I got up at 5:00 and wrote until the kids were awake and needing my attention. Not just awake. That wouldn’t have given me any time for writing at all, but awake and needing me. They were capable of getting up and grabbing a bowl of cereal without me, so I usually got in 4 or 5 hours before on those mornings I had to go bck to real life. I wrote 8 or 9 books following this schedule. I also set aside a couple of days of my vacation time from work for deadline week with each book so that when the final crunch came, I didn’t have to divide my days.
Then I quit to write full-time, and protecting my writing time became much, much harder. Suddenly, my time was my own (not just in everyone else’s eyes, but apparently in my own.) I now thought I had plenty of time to putter around the house before I started writing every day, and soon realized that I wasn’t writing at all. People started thinking they could call me whenever about whatever since, you know, I had so much spare time on my hands.
I didn’t “work,” so I was the mom who was free during the day to do things, and I was the sibling who could take Mom and Dad to doctor’s appointments, etc because I lived close and was home all day. It wasn’t something anyone said aloud, it just sort of was, and I was the worst offender of all. I soon learned that I had to behave as if I wasn’t home during writing hours. No answering the phone. No answering the doorbell. Limited jaunts away from home to do things just because nobody was standing over me with a time clock.
That’s still how I try to manage my writing time. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The internet has thrown another kink in the works because it’s so easy to excuse time spent straying away from the work-in-progress as “necessary” to build and/or maintain a web presence. I have to keep a close eye on myself and limit myself to activities I could reasonably do during work hours if I were in an office. It’s a constant struggle to keep myself in line, and to set and maintain my boundaries with others. It’s especially difficult to find a good balance between actually writing and all the other things that are part of the job,. It can be done, but it takes a lot of determination and constant vigilance.
This is a blog hop, so make sure you check out how the other writers participating manage their writing time.
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