Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Schedules and the Day-to-Day

Last night, I was bemoaning the fact that the round of editing I was going through was taking so long. Although I've been known to start wrting at 9 p.m. and keep going until 2 a.m., there are days I edit about three pages and it takes me all day.

Now, those are two somewhat different examples, but in my mind, one reflects a personality I thought I had, that of a writer who can "put butt in chair, work." The other suggests a writer distracted by every single noise and bright light. "Oh, shiny!" I don't want to be the latter. Although, I could excuse it because during the day there's more noise, more things on TV to distract, etc. etc. There are even a couple of guys painting the house and making repairs from 7 in the morning until 4:30 (actually, small applause for them, because we've had maintenance guys who were slow as heck, and we couldn't do anything about it since we're renters and thus, don't hire them, but these are working the whole, sans lunch, and friendly. Yay for them), but they make noise pounding on doors and scraping old paint. But I don't really want to use that as an excuse.

So, this got me wondering if perhaps it's my schedule that's keeping me cut off from my "diligent worker" side.

A lot of writing books will either give the newbie writer specific exercises or suggestions in terms of writing schedules. An hour a day in the morning, before anything else, half an hour in the evening, four hours while "the kids" are at school. Other advice givers say whatever works for you without any suggestions.

I say, in my limited experience, play around with it. Figure out what time you already have free, start there, writing and editing. If you find that's not enough time, see where you can squeeze more. Examine whether that time of day works, and whether that free time can be moved. Try different lengths of time at different times of day, in different places.

When I was at university, I got some writing done on the bus ride to campus (1 1/2 hours usually), and in high school, I got a lot of writing done during recess and lunch (hanging out in front of my friend's English class, or on the outdoor stage). That's where the characters and plot for my first finished novel came. I even started a vampire story with another friend, while walking around the gym on Fridays during P.E. and got fairly far along--filled most of a spiral notebook with that story (Fridays were 'do whatever' in P.E., but we had to do something, if not a sport, then walk around the gym 12 times. I became skilled in walking and writing at the same time).

Now, though, I'm out of school, focusing on the writing, and don't have the added time constraint of a job. And I'm at a loss. During winter break, the 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. slot worked for me, but it doesn't now when I can't relax during the day.

I need to find a new schedule that works for me, because what I have now doesn't.

Which I think is a point most writing books neglect. Your writing schedule can change. There's no rule that says once you become a writer (however you define it for yourself) you have to pick a certain time of day and amount of time and that's what you should stick to in order to be considered a "serious writer." Srsly.

Life gets in the way, our living situations change, and sometimes, you may find a certain time just doesn't work as well for you anymore. Never limit yourself, that should (could) be a writer's credo.

My goal for today, then, is to find a schedule that works for me. I've been slogging through it for the past month, wasting so much time. I don't want to waste anymore. So I'll push through today and see at what time I seem to get the most work done. I'll even stay up late and see if the 9-2 could work for me again. I'll let you know how it goes.

Happy writing.


ORION said...

good luck...although I start first thing in the morning it's STILL problematic lol!

Sabrina said...

Thanks for the luck.

I think part of my problem is that I love stand-up comedy and there's quite a bit of it on Comedy Central in the morning. I'm doing okay today, if I don't turn on the TV at all when I first get up.