Time Management and Fiction Writing


General Business

I’m guest posting on Anne R. Allen’s blog today, 1:00 EST.  The post is on how not to mess on your pitch session.  I ran the pitch sessions for a writing conference and saw a lot of writers sabotage themselves.  Drop on by!

My fantasy short story Words of Rain and Shadows is featured in the RabbitBundle Here Be Magic.  You can get a lot of great stories and discover new writers with RabbitBundles.

And a reminder that you can sign up for my newsletter.  There’s always something about writing for the writings, and a topic about Hollywood or science.

Making Writing A Priority

Every writer talks about finding the time to write.  Some of that is actually putting it on a priority list and doing it.

Most of the time when someone tells me “I’m writing a novel,” it’s taking ten years to write because they surface periodically when inspiration strikes and add a few hundred words.

Everything else is important.

With some people, this is going to be the case.  They want to write one book, and that’s all they want to do.

Indie’s tricker because producing more words is important, especially if you want to write full time.  James Hunter at Superstars said that you have to produce a minimum of four books a year to be successful.

For that kind of goal, writing has to be on the priority list.

Writing and a Day Job

I’m in a periodically crazy and chaotic day job.  Originally, I was breaking under the weight of it.  It was a four-person job on one person.  It made it very hard to write when I came home because the job sucked the energy out of me.

I used as much of the job as I could to learn process and practices that would help me on my writing side.  In fact, I was so desperate to solve the deluge of information that I read every time management book I could lay my hands on.

But time management is a scam.

Yeah, it really is.

All right, you get this guru who gives you a system to follow.  Doesn’t matter which one.

The majority of the systems are about jamming as much as you can into the time you have.  I remember on the Harvard Business Review, when I posted a comment about to-dos (which I despise, by the way), another writer popped up and bragged that she had a tracking system with 900 to-dos.

900?

Bragged?

Been there at work.  Don’t want to be there.

I think if I hadn’t been focused so much on keeping up and instead let everything fall behind, I might have gotten an extra person much earlier. I’d complain about being overwhelmed, but all people saw was that I was getting things done.

I did get help eventually.

What It Taught Me

This year seems to be the year of thinking strategically.

It means turning some things down to do more writing.  Not on the personal side though—I still go out and have fun and yesterday was entirely lazy because of the gorgeous late summer weather.

But it means maybe not taking any classes for a while.  Dean Wesley Smith offered a licensing course, and all I could do was look at that and no…the time would have to come from writing.

It simply didn’t have any value for me at this time.

I also looked at the number of projects I could do at one time: It’s three.

I have the primary manuscript I’m working on (currently Golden Lies), a promotion-focused one (that’s the Busting Writing Rules now), and a floater.  Last week, the floater was a short story for an anthology call.  The floater has also been the short story refresh, which I’ll be getting back to later this year.

It’s hard because I look at the number of words I’m doing and totals I have for Golden Lies—it’s doesn’t feel like I’m making enough progress for the number of words.

But it’s because I’m working on three projects at once.  It’s possible when the Busting Writing Rules finishes up, I won’t have one book done but two.

Alternating between the project requires management of my priorities.

The short story, Alien Pizza, bubbled up to the top last week because I wanted to get it in when the anthology call opened.

Busting Writing Rules bubbles up because of the weekly deadlines to get a blog post up.

Golden Lies fits in the rest of the time.

The Biggest Takeaway?

Do less, not more.

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