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Time Management for Writers – a new take?

I have about reached my wits end about something most authors face at some time. Time, or rather the lack of it to write. The culprits include dealing with house issues, crap shoved at me (read stupid mistakes) by others – individuals and organizations but I have to deal with it (or some of it) at my end. And what is the bane of many of us today – too damn much to do.

I am living in overwhelm and I am fed up with it.

So, I’ve decided on a major overhaul of well, my life. To provide inspiration and ideas I am reading the new book The One Thing: the Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary results by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan. Reading it in increments both because of my time and to absorb and try some of the ideas. The jury is out so far on how effective it will be. But right now I am focusing on focusing on the most important thing in my life – writing.

That one was a no-brainer. i knew that, so why was I letting all the crap, including spending too much time on too much business-related email (and that doesn’t include personal emails) , I now set  a imer for doing email in the morning and when it goes off, the  idea is to just finish whatever email I’m doing and then the rest can go to you know where, for now. If something time sensitive comes in (like an author gig that needed a yes or no right away) I will do a quick email reply at some point in the day. I am still having trouble getting distracted, one of the problems mentioned in The One Thing.

Writing (as does other one thing’s people focus on and the book also  mentions) can spawn many branches and for me that includes teaching writing workshops (and all that involves) , editing client’s stories and book manuscripts, doing PR for Beyond Faith, doing more revisions in the current book I am writing and running my East End Writers’ Group.

It also involves me dealing with some bad habits such as:

Not getting enough sleep at night, mainly because…

I end up doing household crap late at night. That has to stop.

Watching TV too late. Stopping after the news and weather at 11.35 p.m. should be it with time to get ready for bed and off to sleep at a reasonable time so I can get seven to seven and a half hour’s sleep instead of the bare five to five and a half hours I’m currently getting. Maybe then I can remember receiving my new credit card in the mail – yes, I found it where I usually put these things and still in the unopened envelope. BUT I HAVE NO MEMORY  OF EVEN RECEIVING IT. So I even wasted time phoning the credit card company to find out if they had even sent it too me.

Like the book says, I have to do less each day and focus more on what I do – writing and some of its branches (see above). And take great pleasure in deleting stuff or at the very least putting it beyond the back burner.

Things like answering emails that aren’t urgent (business or personal), personal phone calls (limited to outside writing time and I think I will have to sit with a timer for my overly chatty friends). I do have vm so people can leave a message.

Things like trying to narrow down how many grocery and related errands I do – not easy when you don’t have a car and don’t drive, and many of your friends don’t either and those that do drive don’t offer to take you grocery shopping so you can get most if not all of it done in one go. Public transit can be good, but there is only so much you can cart onto a bus at one time.

Things like prioritizing the house stuff (unless an emergency), especially the big one that has been taking up a lot of my time and interfering with my health.

Yes, all the stress of worrying and trying to get too much done will hit us in our most vulnerable health areas.

As for actual writing time – that gets penned in (as opposed to penciled in) on my calendar and I’ve been taking the position that it gets done come hell or high water or unnecessary interruptions. Whether telemarketers (phone) or religious people banging on my door, they can all well, you know take the high road to hell.

Or should that be the low road?

How I feel about pesky interruptions to my writing and client work

Now, back to my writing – time to do an hour of book promo for Beyond Faith and then a lunch break. Maybe some of the crap in my life can be dealt with at lunchtime – or one problem.

Happy writing.

Cheers.

Sharon

The latest Beyond mystery.

 

 

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Snafus getting in the way of your writing?

The latest Beyond book in the series

The latest Beyond book in the series

The actual “final” rewrite of my latest Beyond mystery is coming along and I am enjoying doing it because I get more creative insights, can fix inconsistencies, check the research and am really tightening up the wordage.

However, I’ve hit a few outside snags that are interfering with my writing time. And they make me angry. So, I’m doing something about them.

One biggie comes under the heading “My health ate my life.” So far since 2017 arrived I’ve been and am faced with two separate unexpected molar extractions. The dental surgery for the second is the day before my publisher’s deadline. As he has given me two extensions already and for health reasons, I do not want to push my luck – it would also not be fair to the publisher.

To get the manuscript and its synopsis (the latter rewritten this week with the word count part left open so far) done in time, I’ve arbitrarily given me an earlier deadline before the publisher’s and before the dental surgery.

It has also forced me to do something I had started to do this  year. Get rid of a lot of the stuff I do that isn’t really important and put some of the others in “pending”.

So far I’ve cancelled me going to a meeting tonight, limited what I get involved in within my community. Important are my East End Writers’ Group and keeping track of a nearby Light Rail Transit line being built as that will affect me in many ways. I am also a member of a local garden club and go to some of their meetings but no volunteering there this year. A couple of other community things I’m interested in I signed petitions and will let the persons organizing them do all the work – just keep me informed. At this point I am also careful of how many social and pseud-social events I go to.

And I finally found someone to shovel my snow when we get bigger snowfalls.

The big take-away point here for writers – whatever you are writing or rewriting – is you can’t do everything, especially what others think you should be doing. Figure out what is important and don’t be afraid to say “no” and/or put some of that on hold. Prioritize. Make the word “no” a big word in your vocabulary even if you have to post it all around your house and on your devices – maybe create an electronic file with a big “NO” and click on it sporadically. You can figure something out.

What I have kept in is family. Last Saturday I was to take out my son and his girlfriend for his birthday dinner (which is actually tomorrow but he will be out of town in the US for a tour with his band – Beams). Martin was sick last weekend. I wanted to see him and at least get his birthday present to him before tomorrow – the present, although not connected to music, is something useful for travelling. So, we arranged for me to make a “flying visit” to his and his girlfriend’s place in another part of Toronto last evening – if you can call buses and subway “flying.” He was feeling better. Dinner will be rescheduled when he returns home.

I know this isn’t exactly about writing, but perhaps if those getting distracted from their writing from whatever, can see one person’s way to deal with the problem, maybe it will help.

How do you deal with writing distractions?

Comments please in the comment section.

Cheers.

Sharon

And as usual, click on the book icon at the top to find out more about my Beyond books.

 

 

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Taming Time to write your novel

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Lately I’ve fallen into the writer’s trap of finding (or not finding) time to write my Beyond novel-in-progress. My characters – PI fraternal twins Dana Bowman and Bast Overture, the stuttering Detective-Sergeant Donald Fielding seem to be getting far away. Life, in too many forms, has gotten in the way. And this is not to my liking. So, it is time (pun intended) to go through an update of how to tame time (well try) so you can write.

First, two big words – delete and prioritize

  1. The “devils” in your life who intrude – can be family, friends, telemarketers, utilities and other people who mess things up for you, and house and property repairs. The list is endless. Decide who and what are important and when. Speak to family and friends about your writing situation but reiterate you will get back to them. Telemarketers – don’t answer the phone or door (for the in-person one). Utilities, etc., decide when you will deal with them.
  2. Emails – (and I’m guilty here) – decide what to answer and when. Set a timer if necessary.
  3. Decide what can be deleted from your life – use the word “no” a lot more. Better still, don’t sign up for something you are only mildly interested in. For me, that is one writer’s organization AGM (two hours is two-hours too much of my time). The Crime Writers of Canada AGM, however, is half that time and is followed by their annual banquet and Arthur Ellis Awards evening.
  4. Make your decisions on “delete and prioritize” on what is really important in your life – what works for your goals, particularly writing.
  5. For those with day jobs it can get even trickier, even when, like me, you work from home and client work takes up more time than you expected. For the latter, slot it in for specific times.
  6. If you are promoting another book via social media and/or in person – schedule a set time for the social media. In person may not be completely under your control for time and date, but factor it into your schedule.
  7. Draw up a flexible timetable – “flexible” because stuff happens. You just don’t want so much stuff happening you don’t have time to write.
  8. Re-acquaint yourself with your novel’s characters. You can be plotting in your mind as you go for a walk.
  9. And don’t forget to relax, to breathe and enjoy the day now that spring is here.

 

Dana, Bast, Donald, et al. I’m thinking of you and will be writing more in your novel tomorrow.

 

And anyone or anything that gets into the way of that will have to answer to the wrath of Sharon A. Crawford. Remember my current published mystery novel is titled Beyond Blood. And some events and people in my life who have really aggravated me have been fodder (fictionalized of course) for my short stories and novels.

 

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Sharon A. Crawford is the author of the Beyond book series. More info at www.samcraw.com and www.bluedenimpress.com – my publisher – you can also purchase e-books – both Kindle and Kobo – there.

Beyond Blood Book cover at the top of this post links to my Amazon author profile. If you buy a copy there, please do a review there.

 

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Taming Time to Write

Beyond Blood_Final EbookSometimes I would like to shoot the clock (figuratively speaking). Finding time to write (and I don’t mean writing for business purposes, including book promo), is something all authors have to deal with.

Of course, the clock is not to blame. The bottom line is there are too many things we have to deal with in our overly fast-paced world and squeezing in writing time is difficult. But we do have only 24 hours a day and it is up to us writers to sort out our time.

What is important to us and what isn’t?

Writing, obviously is one. But we can’t forget about the family, our health, the house problems, the computer problems and other problems that seem to land unwanted on our doorstep. So, for 2015 I ruthlessly pruned what I will do. I use a system of A’s, B’s, C’s and D’s which I found in a time management life balance book. It goes like this:

A –Have to do; want to do (e.g. writing).

B – Have to do; don’t want to do (e.g. dealing with house problems)

C – Don’t have to do; want to do (try new recipes each week)

D – Don’t have to do; don’t want to do (e.g. any dealings with the boarder I evicted last fall)
I also use three categories: delete (my favourite), delay, and do. So some of those items under B, in particular get put on hold. I am also trying to deal with one problem at a time.

For writing specifically, so far I have assigned Wednesday afternoons and Friday afternoons for writing the third book in my Beyond mystery fiction series. Once I get a better handle on some of my business administrative stuff, Wednesday mornings should also come open for other creative writing such as writing contest entries – which include personal essays as well as short stories. The other times in the day include doing client work (writing tutoring and teaching and editing), book promo and the like. Sometimes workshops and readings are set for “writing afternoons” – I honour those first and juggle the creative writing with “client time.”.

Weekends I try to leave for gardening (spring, summer, fall), family, friends, community events and the like, although I will do writing workshops, author readings and presentations and attend the odd writing conference that crop up on weekends.

During all time I keep my mind open for creative ideas for my stories and essays. Often when I am doing other stuff, the creative ideas pop in. Never ignore these –write them down, or enter on your tablet before you get back to whatever you were doing.

And the big time stealer – email? Unless I consider it urgent, I take from a few days to a week to reply. And when I do deal with email, I set the timer and when it rings I just finish the email I am currently writing.

Guess I use a combination of scheduling and being flexible. Whatever it takes to have time to be creative and just write.

Next week I have a guest blogger – Alex Laybourne, who is a prolific horror novel author with a number of books published. Alex will blog about how he writes. Stay tuned.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

For something completely different check out when I was interviewed about Beyond Blood and writing on radio station Northumberland 89.7 FM http://bluedenimpress.com/authors/sharon-a-crawford/

All my TV interviews are posted on You Tube. Click on “Video” at the top right of this blog

Check out my website www.samcraw.com for more information about Beyond Blood and my writing workshops. Watch for updates.

The book cover at the top links to my amazon.com author profile and my books.

E-copies are also available at my publisher’s website http://www.bluedenimpress.com

 

 

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