Time slips by on silent feet, stealing past even the most observant. To write a book, a writer has to be trap this elusive trickster. Having a plan helps.
I’m talking about something I discovered by accident, a humbling admission for an analytical person given to developing the type of schedules that make some people blanch.
How and Why I Cut My Writing Time in HalfYou see, my daughter’s computer died, an important problem since she’s home-schooled via a computerized curriculum. Saving enough funds to replace her computer will take a few months, so meanwhile I’m having to share my computer.
At first this situation seemed like a hardship. Between writing and marketing, I’d been spending long hours on my computer. All day in fact, almost every day, and then again after dinner and late into the night. I’m building a business, I told myself, so for a while I to work hard.
Except that ‘a while’ turned into several years. At first I took the weekend off, but if a deadline loomed, even that territory wasn’t sacrosanct. Periodically, I’d push back against the imbalance in my life, but writing duties always seemed to crawl back into places they shouldn’t. From my conversations with other writers, this happens to a lot of them, also.
With the new order of things, there isn’t the option of spending all day on the computer. And you know what? It’s wonderful. I write in the morning until lunch time and again in the evening. This cut the time my writing time in half. I’m forced to organize my time well and prioritize all my online activities. There’s simply no time to follow a rabbit trail or procrastinate. At half the time, my output has remained the same, and I’m keeping up with emails and social networking besides. As a bonus, during my non-computer time, I’m cleaning and organizing my office and keeping up with physical mail, all things I neglected before.
While my daughter works, I put time into organizing my house. I’ve established a regular cleaning routine and have even braved my overgrown garden. There’s a hot meal on the table every night now, whereas before we might have to make do with sandwiches. It feels wonderful to finally have time to take care of these things. If I’d realized before that writing expands to fill the time allotted for it, I’d have curtailed my computer time sooner.
I’ve rediscovered something I’ve longed for but felt I couldn’t allow myself: spare time. Granted, it’s not much, but I can now read for pleasure. Best of all, I have more time for my family. Instead of shoehorning a week’s worth of connecting on Sunday afternoons when I refused to work, I have a little time with my family each day and most of the weekend off (sometimes I do have to catch up my blogging on Saturday mornings), but Saturday afternoon is for other things, and in the evening we now have family night.
I don’t want to come across sounding like some kind of super-writer. I’ve just found something that works for me. If your writing schedule is overtaxed, cutting back your hours can seem counter-intuitive, but that is exactly what worked for me.
Can my tactic work for you? If you put your mind to it, I think it can.
If you can handle a crash course in time management, why not give it a try? Even if you balk from cutting your writing time in half, you can decrease it by a lesser percentage, say 25%, and still benefit. If it works out, you can always adjust the percentages until you’re at a comfortable pace that still challenges you.
I’ve already listed the benefits to myself and my family of my cutting my writing time in half. Here are some of the benefits to me as an author:
- increased focus
- increased writing speed
- more time to think about my project before writing it
- better writing (see numbers 1-3)
- quick decision-making
- the ability to sift through emails quickly
- the ability to say no to extraneous responsibilities
- easy prioritizing of social networking engagements
- time saved from having an organized work space
- less stress overall
Life is more interesting now, and my family and I are happier. At dinner I have more to talk about than my writing. There’s just no going back to the slave-driven writer I was before. Even after we replace my daughter’s computer, now that I understand my tendency to overload my schedule, I’ll guard against it by keeping my computer hours down and periodically reviewing everything I do.
Are you intrigued with the idea? Does it seem impossible? Have you experienced something similar?
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