I was going to hold off and post this on Sunday, but because I’ve decided to discontinue the “Wildcard” topic after this week, I decided to go ahead and post it today. Check the newsletter coming out on Sunday and/or “News/Goals” post next Monday for details on the new posting schedule as of next week (new topics/days are already in the sidebar to the left). Thanks for bearing with me as I move things around here…read on to find out why “Wildcard” is going away.
Last Saturday as I was trying to figure out why I was having trouble working on my WIP before my blogging & newsletter, I had an epiphany. All my life I’ve organized tasks by how long they would take to accomplish. I don’t even think about it – I just automatically do it. The shortest tasks move to the top of the list, followed by longer items, and the last things on my list would be those that were impossible to actually *finish* that day. This strategy works well from an efficiency standpoint (and gives people the impression that I’m an incredibly fast worker at the day job), with one major caveat – sometimes those “unfinishable tasks” get pushed off to the next day…or even several days later.
My writing just sort of slid into this system with everything else. I wait to work on it until the end of the day partially because it’s quiet then, but mainly because that’s when everything else is done, and my focus can be fully on my writing (as long as I turn off Twitter, anyway).
I’d like to say the system is flawed, but it’s the one that comes most naturally to me, and to say it’s flawed would be to say that my natural inclinations are flawed – and I don’t believe that. I’m a big believer in working *with* my natural flow…which means I simply need to find a way for the writing to fit better within my system.
This isn’t really so much of a problem when I’m drafting, because I have a daily word count goal to reach, after which the project is “finished” for that day. I can normally reach that word count goal within my normal writing time slot, so it’s not an issue. I’ve tried to give myself daily revision goals, but due to the nature of revisions, some nights I can actually go backwards in word count. I don’t always have time to finish an entire scene in an evening. According to the chatter on Twitter, I’m not the only one who has issues with trying to quantify revision work. For now, I’m measuring in scenes for the short term, and chapters for the long term, which is sort of growing on me. But because a “scene” is something I can’t count on completing, my brain still wants to make it the last thing I do in a day.
The only solution I have for this is to get nearly everything else done *earlier* so that I have more time to spend on these revisions. I have things that need to be done from 10 – 10:30pm every night (just before my normal writing time), and I am trying to fit exercising into the evening as well, but even half an hour extra per day would be enough, I think. I’ve come to the conclusion that if I cut out two days of blogging each week, I can get that extra half-hour per day that I need for revising.
I know it doesn’t seem like it makes sense. How can cutting just two blog days out result in a gain of three and a half hours of writing time per week? It’s all in the scheduling. At the moment, I write out each day’s post the night before, and schedule it to post the next day. Cutting out two post topics will scale back the time I need to write posts enough so that I can write three posts ahead of time on the weekends, leaving all the weeknight time I spent working on those free. Then I’ll only have the serial novel chapter and the notable posts to do the night before.
I’ll undoubtedly need to play around with it a little to find the “sweet spot”, but even just cutting out one post this week has raised my productivity on revisions (and I’ve snuck in a little work on some other writing projects too). So I’m definitely on the right track. As of next week, I won’t be posting on Thursdays or Sundays anymore (with the exception of blog tour posts written by others that I’ll post on the occasional Thursday).
Do you “go with your natural flow” when determining how to allocate your time, or do you try to “retrain” yourself to do things a different way? Have you written out your daily/weekly schedule to see how well things are balanced between what you *have* to do and what you *want* to do? Is the time you’re giving to your writing allowing you to stay on track to meet your goals?