Friday, January 9, 2009

Finding the Time

You've analyzed how much time you spend writing. Did the results surprise you? Are you writing far more than you thought? Or far less?

I'm assuming you want to squeeze in more writing time painlessly.

I look at writing as my part time job. If I had an employer assigning me to write, what expectations would that employer have? Most employers require either a certain amount of time or a quota of work finished each week. So I'm asking you, if writing was your part time job, how much time, or finished product, could you devote to it?

Since I prefer to see results and I write novels, I set daily goals for myself. I set a daily page count goal for every weekday and I take weekends off. I keep a daily log of my progress for concrete proof I accomplished something.

I'm not telling you to follow my schedule. A few years ago, my schedule looked very different!
How much time do you believe you can devote to writing each day/week/month? Do you have a figure in mind? Good.

Now cut it in half.
That's right.
Cut it in half.

The reason we fail at many of our resolutions is because we set the bar impossibly high. Who enjoys failing? Not me!

So cut that number in half. On weeks that you feel you can take on the world, go ahead and reach for the stars--challenge yourself to reach the original goal. But the rest of the time, shoot for the lower number. Sometimes the difference between giving up and reaching our goals is setting the bar too high.

Okay, you have a number (or page count or whatever your new standard is). How do you cram that in to an already busy schedule? Grab on to your armrests and dig your fingernails in; I'm going to ask the really scary question.

How much television do you watch every week?
I can hear you now, or is that me? Definitely me! I don't watch much television. Sure it's on, but I just watch a few shows to relax me...
Nothing wrong with T.V.

I'm not asking you to give up your favorite programs. I'm asking you to give up programs that are so-so. I'm asking you to give up re-runs. I'm asking you to walk away from the television when it isn't entertaining you.

Think about giving up one half hour of lackluster television every night. Do it five nights a week and you've just added two and a half hours of writing to your life--every week! I'd rather write than watch a re-run of a lame comedy any night of the week.

What about you writers who honestly don't watch television? Maybe you don't even own a television?

I'm guessing you already spend a terrific amount of time writing! But if that isn't the case, then you'll have to figure out where your time is going. And, like giving up a half hour of television, think about giving up a half hour of your pet time waster.

Next week, we're going to discuss setting daily/weekly/monthly/annual goals. We have an entire year ahead of us. Let's make the most of it!

Enjoy your weekend!

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