Posted by: Trisha Leigh | January 17, 2010

Time Management – Or, Not Pissing Real Life People Off

I stink at moderation. When my mind is immersed in something, its all I can think about. My current WIP is demanding my full attention. I’ve written 25K this month. When I’m not writing it, I’m thinking about what comes next, plotting, and my characters. The real people (and dogs) in my life are getting sore.

This is when my time management skills are at their worst, when I’m really into a project. All I do is write, talk about writing, or want to write. And Twitter. Even when I’m not that into a project, like say, taking on a major editing job, I protect my writing time. I have a day job that uses up nearly 10 hours a day, all traveling, etc. included. I have a husband, a stepson, two dogs, a cat, my parents who live five minutes away, and a disabled sister. I have friends. At least, I used to have friends. Fun is currently relegated to Thursday nights for Grey’s Anatomy. I have Twitter. I have my neglected blog and I write television and movie reviews for poptimal.com I don’t have kids. I feel guilty enough about neglecting my dogs.

Basically, besides what writing I can squeeze in at work, I have an hour or so in the morning and a couple hours at night. Not nearly enough time to empty all the scenes and dialogue in my head onto paper. This frustrates me, so I spend hours on the weekends trying to write. Then I get complaints.
“When are we going to have some time together?
“Are we ever going to get in bed at the same time?”
“I haven’t talked to you in two weeks.”
“I haven’t been on a walk in days”
“Squeak squeak…play with me!”

I’m still working on a balance, on some kind of schedule that sates the writing beast as well as the people who actually exist in my life. Its not easy. Sometimes I’m resentful, and I hate feeling that way. Other times I give up things I shouldn’t – like eating something besides coffee, or showering. If you feel so inclined, I’d love to hear how you all moderate all the people and chores in your life with your writing time. If there’s a way to stonewall the muse when she’s in a mood like she is with me right now – screaming and impatient – please tell me your secret. Some of you have kids PLUS everything I’ve described and I’m particularly interested to know how your heads are still attached. Thanks for listening, dear readers and followers. Help me, if you feel so inclined.

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Responses

  1. Hi! Finding time to write is a total nightmare! I have to juggle life and writing and to be really careful not to resent everything that gets between me and the story! Can get really grumpy so I carry the laptop everywhere with me, just in case I get five mins free. But I have to say it's a fabulous place to be when the story is burning to escape and you just can't type fast enough. I have a post on my blog (www.bloodredink.com) about finding time to write, don't know if it will help – you have a busy life but you already have the drive that is crucial to getting published. Malcolm Gladwell talks about the tipping point, the point at which it all starts to come together and the opportunities begin to appear. Most people give up before they get to that point, maybe because it's just too hard, but if you keep at it, it will all happen. Having the dedication and commitment to keep going is half the battle. And having the cutest dogs in the world must help! Best selling Irish author Sarah Webb does all her thinking when she walks – you can mine time from every part of your day to contribute towards your WIP, so even dog walking can be turned to your advantage! Best of luck!

  2. I'm lucky in that I have a husband and a dog. No kids, and no intention to have any, and I work on my writing full-time. That said, I still get carried away with doing nothing but writing nearly 24/7. When I love something, I throw myself into it. My husband and I will often make plans ahead of time to devote an evening to "just us". Date night!When I notice I'm getting stiff from sitting at the computer for hours and I need to stretch, I take my dog for a walk and play with her. At the end of the day, I think it's about cultivating the self-discipline to know when you need to step away from something and take care of yourself and your loved ones. I admire the people who have kids and full-time jobs in addition to writing, and manage to balance it all!

  3. Those of us with kids and social networking habits and jobs and writing addictions don't… uh… sleep very much. That's about it, really.

  4. PD James had a difficult situation. Her husband was institutionalised with severe mental health problems, she had to raise 2 kids on her own, and she had a very demanding job. (Her OBE is for her work in the public service, not for her writing.)She wanted to write a novel, so she rose before dawn every morning and typed at the kitchen table until her family woke up. I on the other hand have it easy, because I have a wonderful wife who thinks it's great that I write.

  5. Vanessa and J – Thanks for the advice and inspiration. Its nice to know I'm not the only one who feels like there is never enough time. And my dogs are cute, aren't they? :PSimon – Sleep is slowly becoming something I can do without. Until it all catches up with me and I sleep away half a Sunday. LIke today. Ugh.Gary – Thanks for reminding me that compared to some, my life is relatively easy. And you are lucky. After reading your posts about your wife, I'd say you hit the big time. 🙂

  6. I hope you're not expecting me to have any wisdom here! It's hard balancing everything. One thing I will say has helped me is mapping out what I want to do writing-wise each week. I have M-F note pad and I put it all down there, which gets it out of my head. Then, in the rare case I have extra time, I have a plan for how best to use it.My kids finally seem to respect what "I'm working" means, pets less so. Just know that it's hard for all of us, so technically you're not doing anything wrong!

  7. I also do the early morning thing (and the late night thing until the "You never come to bed the same time as me's" start to accumulate. (Yes, I get those, too). Funny how no one ever complains if I want to get UP early and write… And it feels great to head into school knowing I've already conquered a major chunk of my word goal for the day.G'luck to you and your puppies… and if you figure out some magic tricks for adding time to the day, be sure to let me and the puggles know!


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