No, it’s not a new Yoga position. I’m talking about how we balance our time when our butt is in the writing chair. Most writers have to manage their time to write between jobs, family, and friends. There are dozens of blog posts about finding the time to write. But I’m talking about how we spend our time when we have our butt in chair, fingers on keyboard.
I used to take care of my emails first. Even after I delete the advertisements, sappy forwards from well-meaning friends and family, and other unnecessary emails, by the time I read my Daily Kick, Magical Words, and Duotrope update then take care of necessary emails, I’ve usually eaten up nearly an hour. Then there are critiques I’ve promised for fellow writers, submission updates for short stories, agent research, books on writing to read, books by other authors in my field to read, and you know…the list goes on.
So, in all of this, how do we become the writers we want and hope to be? The obvious answer to this; we need to write. Though it may sound selfish, we have to put our own work first.
I once read a parenting book that said you can’t do anything for your children unless you take care of yourself. The idea was that you’ll be a better parent if you take the time to exercise regularly, read, and spend time on goals that are important to you. Take a little time for yourself so what you give your family is of higher quality.
I think the same holds true in writing. I’m a better reviewer if I take the time to write. It’s not going help my writing goals to read books, fiction or otherwise, if I don’t take the time to write. My editing isn’t going to be worth crap unless I take the time to write. In short, no matter what else I have to do or get done, I make sure the majority of my time is spent actually writing. And I do my story writing during my optimum, creative thinking time. Sorry, everyone else gets the leftovers.
I write while my kids are at school in the morning and, depending on how tired I am, I use the evening. In the afternoon, when my brain wants to go to sleep, I answer e-mails, send submissions, critique colleagues’ work, do blog posts (yes, it’s the afternoon at this moment), handle agent research, compile my other research, etc. I use spare moments to read: as the computer boots up, during breakfast, in between matches at my daughter’s badminton game, and so on. I can do all of these things without full focus and do them well, but I want the best part of my day, the most creative part, devoted to the reason I’m doing all the other stuff…to make my writing the best it can be.
The important part is to use the time you have to your best advantage. Balance.
I know most people are dealing with work schedules, perhaps schooling, and/or they have small children at home. What works for you and why?