Making Time, Finding Time, Having the Time of Our Lives

Once upon time when I worked in retail, I noticed that whenever a day seemed to go slowly for those of us womanning the cash registers, customers would complain about how the day was dragging. Conversely, when the day seemed to fly by for us, customers would also comment on how fast the day was passing. I started taking an informal poll then, asking people if the day was moving fast or slow. With but a single exception, the days went either fast for everyone or slow for everyone, which made me think that time was variable, though somehow our bodies and artificial timekeepers managed to key into the new time speed, so there was no way of knowing that time moved at different rates.

Oddly, time is no longer variable for me. It speeds up and keeps speeding up until I wonder how twenty-four hours manage to fit into a single day. Except when I write, of course, then it seems as if time doesn’t exist.

Time is a major factor for all of us. People often ask me how I juggle promotion, writing, and offline life, but the truth is, I don’t juggle very well. I always drop a ball or two so that a single ball is kept in the air at a time. (Am I mixing metaphors?) Right now my offline life is taking precedence (nothing particularly good or bad, just work). I am doing almost no promoting, not keeping up with my discussion groups (except for this one), doing a single blog post a week, and yet all that and more used to fit into a few hours a day. Now it barely fits into a week.

So, let’s talk about time. How do you make the time to write? For those of you who are published, how do you find the time to promote? How do you make sure that you are having the time of your life when you are writing, or does it become work after awhile? If you don’t want to talk about time, feel free to talk about any aspect of writing or your writing life.

Let’s talk.

My writing group No Whine, Just Champagne will be discussing this article during a live discussion about writing and the writing life on Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 9:00pm ET. I hope you will stop by our Writing Discussion #96. If not, leave your comments here. I always enjoy seeing what you have to say.

8 Responses to “Making Time, Finding Time, Having the Time of Our Lives”

  1. Dave Ebright Says:

    Hi Pat – I’m not good at grabbing little chunks of time for writing but will do that for editing, an hour here or there.
    I prefer to have a stretch of 6 or more hours to really get into it & be productive, without it becoming a chore.

    Promotion, to me anyway, is like eating green beans. Might be good for me (sales) but not very pleasant. That always takes a back seat, right behind rearranging my sock drawer.

    The biggest obstacle is my day job. Traveling, stress, lots of pressure – tough sometimes to calm down & put that stuff out of my mind. Being in unfamiliar surroundings can also be a negative factor – & right now I’m staring into the teeth of a year-long gig away from home.

    I DO limit my blogging, FB time & participation in too many sites because there are, after all, only 24 hours in a day.

  2. Dave Ebright Says:

    Pat – I really wanted to join in the discussion last night but was tied up discussing the pending out of town assignment with Deb. (Hint: She ain’t happy.) At least the job is in Florida so we can go home on weekends if we want (& it beats the options that some people are facing these days).

    Of course – being away is going to kill promotion & my local sales. I had to cancel out on a book signing and the biggest book ‘festival’ in NE Florida. Gotta stay positive, but sometimes it takes real effort.

    I’ll see you next week.

  3. knightofswords Says:

    I feel pulled one way and then another by schedules. Should I keep up a blog or should I clean the house? Which prospective novel should I do first? Do I need more research or do I need to just write the thing until I discover I have enough facts or really do need more?

    My use of time is both chaotic and intuitive. I write better when I’m in the mood rather than by sitting down every day for a specific time period. I do better with variety: write, then make a snack, then play a game of computer hearts, then check e-mail, then go back to writing.

    I could make better use of my time, but trying to do so tends to short out my creative efforts.

    Malcolm

  4. Carol J. Garvin Says:

    I missed your live discussion of this, Pat, but the topic is one that keeps popping up. I did a post on it, too, (http://wp.me/phaYw-6d) when I was trying to deal with the ‘never enough time’ problem.

    More than just time, I’m beginning to think the problem involves identifying priorities. No one can work non-stop, day after day, on any project without eventually faltering, losing enthusiasm. Our minds and our creative souls shut down unless we give them breaks and opportunities for replenishing. We can’t juggle everything at the same time. (I like your metaphor.) When we have to, we push through to accomplish certain tasks when they absolutely have to be dealt with and then we move on to the next highest priority item.

    We forget that writing is one of the arts, and our creativity needs nourishment. Don’t berate yourself for needing time away from what has become drudgery. Take the time, but also be sure you’re doing something to help rebuild your writing spirit.

    ::climbing off my soapbox now:: 😉

  5. joylene Says:

    I haven’t written a word in 2 weeks because of this nasty flu. BUT — when I’m not sleeping, I’m making up for it by reading Donald Maass’ book The Breakout Novel workbook. In doing so, I’m saving myself from the guilt of being sick, which in turn helps me forgive myself. The only thing I can’t figure out is the old saying: feed a cold not a fever. I’m craving junk food. If I end up not feeling guilty about being sick, I’ll still hate myself for gaining this weight.

    • shanaya fastje Says:

      I am a very lucky kid, I am involved in lots of important things that most people don’t understand due to my age, but I have wonderful parents/agents that take care that I don’t burn out. Scheduling is always done very strategic since I have the luxury of being home schooled, adding to that is they always have special treats for me for my hard work like lots of personal little and big trips throughout the year. It is hard to explain my life, but let me tell you I am very happy and enjoy the time I put into everything especially my books. As any kid I have chores too, I am not spoiled just blessed to have the life I do!

  6. Cher Says:

    I agree, time is a funny thing.

    During Nano, I was able to push out 50,000 words in a month. I was able to this even though my work had picked up and didn’t have much time to sit down and write. I made myself do it even after nine hours on the job.

    Work slowed down shortly after and I can’t say I’ve even got close to that in the last two months. This is a eye opener that goals really do make a difference.

    I too feel I need long stretches of time to accomplish writing tasks, which are not always available. Even when they are, it doesn’t feel as I accomplish as much as I should.


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