Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Late night ramblings of a writer with no time

I have a blog post to write for today. I would not have known this if my scheduler had not popped up and informed me of such an hour before it became today.

I haven't given much thought to world-building lately. I haven't given much thought to anything directly helpful to anyone. It's all writing, jotting notes and figuring out details outside the designated working hours, and snatching evening (or afternoon) movies with Hubby in the meantime. Unless you've been working on the meaning for a made-up name with a prefix at the front that happens to be the same as my male lead's name, I don't know if I'll be much use to you right now.

I've lost track where I've explained things and where I haven't, especially when every other Chick has already heard this story at least once. I'll stick to the short version. Surrey Conference + agent pitch + unfinished manuscript = strict writing schedule to finish and allow time for revisions. Thrilling progress and details on Eventide as the weeks go along, but very likely it'll wind up creeping over here anyway as I prepare for the conference and run out of time and brain for other valuable things to say.

Technically I never run out of things to say. The mouth just runs on nothing instead.

I'm into my fourth week of this now. It's going well, except for the whole lack of time thing. I can't expect that to change though, so I'm working to adapt and start using the time I do have better. We all know getting published isn't exactly going to free up hours in my day.

So in the interest of sharing developments as they go along, and hopefully offering a little help in the process, here's how I've been trying to manage my time.

1: Writing. Writing comes first, and I have to hit my word counts every day. I also have to hit them with useful, plot related content, rather than random filler crap I know I'll cut, just so I feel like I hit the numbers. I write during Hubby's work hours, creating designated work days and weekends, alternating days and nights, both of which offer different benefits for my writing routine. Sometimes I'm done in a couple hours. Sometimes it's 8 hours or more. Other times... see #3

2: Prep work. I don't plot, not in the lengthy meaning of the word. I know what scenes will come up soon, and major points I'll hit, but I don't plot it all out before hand. I don't pants either, actually. What I do, however, and I've really had to do when I can't waste my designated writing time farting around, is jot down whatever I need to keep in mind for the scene I'm working on. Character development, emotional issue, plot development (all aka The Point), things I want to touch on (flow of a conversation, backstory hints, world-building details). It's just a good something to have nearby to reference so I don't need to stop and dwell during work hours. I can just look at what my options are on the sheet and pull something in.

3: Catch-up. This last week, we had company over, arranged long before I had this schedule. Understandably, I got rather less than my necessary work done. I still kept to a schedule though. Everyone knew I was off limits at midnight, and I'd write as long as I could. And of course, when football games come on, that's three hours I can't be bothered to care about, in which I can bugger off and go write something compelling (I know, what a horrible Prairie-Dweller I am, for shame). I still fell short during the week, though, so I have to hit higher counts this week, an extra page a day to make up for it, and I'm also not getting weekends -- although 8 hour days don't really work the same on days off.

4: Everything else. All the things that don't matter get put on the back burner to be touched on when the time comes. Blog posts never take priority over writing. I haven't bothered tweeting as much. I have a hoard of tabs open in my internet browser still waiting to be addressed. I have things I need to get done (unpacking? from a month-ago trip? what's that?) that will not get done, and I don't particularly care that they won't. Hitting deadlines means not caring if the dishes are dirty.

5: Rest time. What I won't sacrifice, however, is my time to relax, be idle, let my brain drift on the currents. And most importantly, spend time with Hubby. We may not have as much together on our present schedules as we would have in the past, but that time has always been priority. My Ideal Reader, my best source for brainstorming, the only person willing to spend an hour's car ride talking over the possible meanings of a prefix in a main character's name, I am not about to sacrifice time with my husband. In terms of priorities, this sits right up beside getting the actual writing done. The two reside at opposite sides of the spectrum, however, and I can't place one above the other, since neither is worth compromising.

How do you manage your time? What are your priorities? What sort of goals are you working on, and how are they coming along?


Jana Richards said...

Hi Hayley,
I think my goals for August have probably hit the skids, although I'm not quite ready to abandon them yet. I'm writing this from work, a place I'll probably be spending a lot of time at for the foreseeable future. I'm just getting into my busy time of year, so that means much less writing time, other than evenings.

For the moment my priorities are finishing edits on a novella I just sold to the Wild Rose Press. The sooner I complete those, the sooner I can get cover art/release date/royalties. I'm always motivated by money.

My other priority, as far as writing goes, is to finish a first draft of another novella I'm working on. Whether I'll finish it by the end of August, I don't know.

I think you have your priorities straight. Family is always important. Without family, nothing else really matters. And rest is important too. I can't write when I'm tired. So look after yourself, work hard, spend time with hubby.

Take care,

Karyn Good said...

My main goal was to have finished revising my WIP by the end of August and I'm on my way to that end. Summer means family time but I have managed to get some other things done as well, like starting to research agents, gathering query letter information, etc. It's been an excellent summer but I can see autumn coming out of the corner of my eye and I can't help but do a little happy dance for September brings the return of my regularly scheduled writing time. yay

BTW, I'm shocked to the core you don't bleed green!

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Jana, congrats on the sale! Your goals right now are great, really big stuff. You remind me I need to call out for updates on the ass-kicking project on the SRW blog again!

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Karyn, sure sounds like fall will be a break for everyone! I'm looking forward to my month of seclusion and nothing to do but write. It'll be the hurtle over the waterfall toward The End.

And I've only been in this province for a few years, my blood is still firmly red and uninterested in sports :D

Joanne Brothwell said...

Hi Hayley,
I've miraculously met my August goals, mostly due to opportunities that have come up out of the blue. I don't plan or schedule my writing because it just doesn't work. Instead, I write in fits and starts, and in the end, it seems to suit my life best.

Janet said...

OK - you know about my issues/troubles/problems with goals and writing these days...

Time is a precious commodity - and it sounds like you have yours very well thought out and orderly. In that, you are way ahead of the game. And I know your drive and determination - so I know you'll meet your goals with time to spare :)

Cheering you on!

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Joanne, before this schedule I preferred writing in fits and starts when the mood struck me. It usually worked in terms of collecting thoughts and then bursts, but doesn't always guarantee I'll get where I need to be. Unfortunately I can't rely on it right now, and overall I actually think this is better.

And congrats again on your great news :)

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Thanks Janet, I think my schedule's been working quite well. Fingers crossed it'll work out as planned!

How has your new goal been working out?

Anita Mae Draper said...

Coming in late because my schedule is to finish revising my wip by the end of Aug. I have my good days and bad days. Considering I haven't touched it for 2 days, I'm not feeling good about it right now. I'd like to say it's my first priority, but I had to write posts for both here and the Inkwell. Plus, the youth mission team is back from Australia and I'm working on the church blog with a post of their adventures. Every time I think of shelving it, I feel selfish.

So, I'll keep plugging at it because that's what I do best. I'd love to say I'm superwoman except that while I've been at my laptop, the family's been taking care of the house, laundry, cooking, etc. I'm very blessed.

Great post, Hayley.


connie said...


I'd love to say that I bleed blue, but you will soon know that isn't true when you treat me like a hat pin cushion.

I've failed miserably.

You and Jana have given me cheers, kicks and good advice and I still can't get the motor started.

Interested in some stupid excuses or shall I leave it at that?

It took the techs five hours to get my laptop to kinda sorta co-operate. At $85 an hour - eek!Fortunately, they decided to charge me for only one hour.

But now, since I have it back, my frustration is that I cannot cope with this new writing program. I have recaptured every curse I ever knew including 'may a million camel fleas lodge in your beard'.

Poor me.

Tahlia said...

Blogging can catch me and take away from writing time. Luckly my download quota limits me to before 12 noon, so I have to turn off then. That's my only organisation.

Oops better not think too much more about this reply. Gotta get to that novel. I love writing first drafts when the story and characters unfold and surprise you, but I'm fond of blogging too.