It’s the eternal question, isn’t it? Joanna Penn has this topic up on her blog this week.
I’m in the long-tail of the ending of my book Cursed Planet (a redraft of 49er Planet), so it’s very close to be done. My deadline for it is March 31, so I’m trying to hit that. Either way, it’ll be a win. I’m trying to cut my time on books down.
Meanwhile, there are two anthology calls I want to submit to. All I can do right now is think about what I might write for them, so I can focus on finishing. I also passed by one that is closing on March 31 because getting Cursed Planet done is the most important thing.
But there’s a skill that everyone misses when they talk about time management, even among the gurus on the topic.
Learning Skill Gaps
I just spent the last few months filling in some long-standing gaps. Craft books certainly didn’t teach them (if you aren’t aware of it, most craft books exist simply to get a new writer through a first book. Most classes are the same way).
Skill gaps can hold us back. I think that sometimes we have to be really ready in our progression to take on a skill gap, as well as ready mentally.
The first was how to get ideas. That had been a sticking point to even writing a new book. I took a class on it, and…wow!
Then there was the part of my progression I wasn’t ready for. I had to be dragged into it kicking and screaming…setting and the five senses. I knew I needed to do it and it took at lot of learning, and a lot of time. Three years, actually. It was also a spaceship sized gap that did need to be fixed before I could progress to what I really needed, because everything connected together.
It was frustrating because the writing took longer than I wanted. This skill wasn’t as intuitive for me, or rather I had to make sure I would do it because if I didn’t, I would skip over it. I got to the point where the creative side flags me pretty fast if I forget rather than me blowing through a couple of chapters before I realize I left the setting out.
So it shortened the writing time a little as I filled in the gap.
Over the last few months I took Research for Fiction Writers; Novel Structure; Teams in Fiction; and Secondary Plots. All of those were a progression of filling in a big skill gap for me: novel structure.
As I hit the end of my story, I can see how all of this learning has played out. Sure, I’ve gotten stuck on the story, but it’s not the debilitating one where I have to stop and regroup. It’s more like a quick stop for a few hours, and then it’s “Ah, so that’s the problem.” Very different experience.
It’s weird because I’ve read a lot of time management books, and they don’t talk about skill gaps as a time management tool. Yet, if you have a report you’re building every week in Excel, learning more about Excel will help with ways to shorten the process and manage the time better.
Target a skill gap today and make your creative side happy!
I’m attending the Writing Superstars next February. If you would like to attend, you can use this code LADAMS. This is a marketing focused writing seminar with big name writers that you’ve probably read. By April 30 though–after that, the cost goes up.