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Claiming my time to write, edit and teach writing

Ready to cut loose from pesky interruptions

Lately my writing time and time to do client work kept getting shoved to the back burner because of too many other things getting in the way. So, last week I started to just dive in and write and do the work clients have hired me to do. And push everything else to the back burner.

Isn’t quite working out that way. An unexpected heavy rainfall resulted in some water in the basement and I had to postpone a lunch meeting with a client because I was constantly mopping up. Usually I get a neighbour to check the basement for a few hours if heavy rainfall is forecast. This storm wasn’t until the last minute and I wasn’t going to call my neighbour at the last minute. I mean he is doing me a favour. So, in future I will be more diligent about weather.

And this week I am on a hard purge of what I do and whom I allow to take up my time.

So, out is the would-be landscaper who doesn’t listen to me. Apparently it didn’t sink in when I told him – four times – that I only could afford to pay him for one hour until the end of the month. He didn’t do that great a job of digging part of may garden anyway. The kicker was after I told him no more until the end of the month, he called me four times in an hour and a half (I checked the call display and didn’t answer and he didn’t leave a message). When he landed on my doorstep an hour later I told him off and sent him packing. But he still tried to get my by phone – texting – good luck with that on a land line.

And the self-published author I was introduced to via Linked In by a mutual friend. I had to postpone when we could “chat” (his words, which should have rung alarms in my mind if it wasn’t so cluttered). I did agree to meet him at an author reading/presentation I was at with other authors. We talked a bit, but I told him I was not available until after May 5 and we could meet then. So what does he do but start emailing me with what do I do questions. Excuse me, but this is something I do for a living and he is not a paying client. I ignored the emails and decided he could fend for himself.

Sounds harsh? Maybe. But it’s my writing time and my client work time.

I am also pulling back a bit (time-wise) this month in doing book promo for after June. Still doing some, but trying to work it in between the writing and client work instead of the other way around. That means less time on Facebook and other social media. And it also means cutting back on email time. So, I guess I will be setting the timer when I’m reading and answering email and on Facebook too.

But I’m still going to garden. I can dig my garden myself – always have. And so is spending time with family and friends.

How do you deal with pesky interruptions and other time-stealers that get in the way of your writing?

Comment, please?

Now back to client work.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Author of the Beyond mysteries.

The latest Beyond mystery. Click on it for more info

 

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Making time for your writing

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford's mystery short story collection

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford’s mystery short story collection

Many of us would like to spend more time writing our novel, short story, etc. But our hectic lives can get in the way. The only solution is to take stock of what we are doing and what is happening in our lives. What is necessary? What can wait? What can be scrapped?

I’ve reached that point again and am getting ruthless. Unlike some of you I don’t have children around the house – my son has been long grown up and left the nest. I don’t have a significant other – a partner. That has its downside when you consider all that must be done or at least organized – alone. In a nutshell, I’m juggling the house (regular housework and things that need repairing/replacing, snow shovelling, etc.), family and some friends (I’ll clarify the “some” shortly), what I call “self” (walking, gardening and reading – things I do for me), and my writing/editing/writing teaching. The latter is my business and maybe that is the key to getting at your writing. Under those four categories I prioritize daily.

However, stuff happens; sometimes you find yourself spending too much time on related (or not) things.

So what does a body and soul do to get writing regularly?

Here are a few pointers to get you thinking.

  1. The aforementioned treat your writing like a business, i.e., something that must be done.
  2. Divide what you do into categories. They don’t have to be the same as mine – whatever suits your situation.
  3. Prioritize – within categories and the categories themselves – this must be done on a weekly and daily basis.
  4. Use the three Ds to decide what to do with No. 3 – Delay, Delegate, Dump (or Delete). I use some of the suggestions by Alan Lakein in his book How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life (1989, available at www.amazon.com). My version is much earlier but he has lots of helpful ideas, including dividing your so-called “to do” list into A, B and C’s. A’s – obviously your top priority (i.e. writing) for what must be done, B’s for somewhat important but could wait before doing – you do these when the daily A’s are done. C’s – dump, delete. Here is where I put phone voice-mail messages from telemarketers and the like, even some friends (here it comes) – friends who appear suddenly out of the blue and wonder why I haven’t phoned them when it’s been years since I’ve heard from them – unless I want to reconnect. Have to be “ruthless” here. Maybe it will move up to a B.
  5. Juggling what’s left. For example in the writing/editing/writing teaching biz, I look at the overall picture, figure out what is most important and slot it into an A, what I have to do at some point into a B, and what I can dump into a C. And I do it by week and day. So this week’s (based on deadlines) priorities are: finish editing one client’s book manuscript, continue with the rewrite of my prequel mystery novel (including some research that has popped up as I write), my blog posts, some PR for my current short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (fortunately I have a writing colleague friend who put my marketing plan into Excel and my end is to critique one of her short stories – when she finishes it). This brings up another idea.
  6. Instead of directly delegating – do a skills trade with someone – but make sure for both sides it is on each others’ priority list. For example I am not going to babysit for someone so they will clean my house because I don’t babysit.
  7. Try to set a specific time each day, five days a week, each weekend to write, and decide what you are going to write before you start.
  8. Don’t work on too many writing projects at a time. I have a friend who did that until she realized she had to rein in what she was writing.
  9. For those with families to look after, insist on certain times a day (depending on your circumstances) for you to have undisturbed time to write. Yes, I did this when my son was still at home, albeit in his teen years his rock band sometimes practiced in my basement while I wrote. Although I liked their music, I used ear plugs when writing. There was a trade off. The band members helped move appliances and other kitchen stuff when my kitchen needed painting. Your trade-off may be if you have kid-free and spouse-free time to write, you spend other time with them.
  10. Limit your social media, email, texting, online group participation, and phone calls. Turn off your email account notification (or close your email), turn your i-Phones, etc. to vibrate and let voice mail take over when you are writing. And don’t answer your door unless you are expecting someone. I don’t always follow the email and door ones. But you can bet if the someone at my door is soliciting they get short shrift from me. I’ve sent those water heater company sales people scrambling down the front steps – with words alone.

Happy and productive writing.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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