Schedules, Habits, and Lying to Myself

Me: Well. Here we are again.

You: So it would seem.

Me: Indeed.

You: Yup.

 

Man, small talk is awkward. Let’s not try that again.

A while back, I started trying to schedule my time. It has not gone well thus far. When the kids were home during the summer, I was constantly torn between spending time with them and trying to get work done, and constantly feeling guilty about not spending enough time on either, or being distracted when I should have been _______. Working with the kids home just wasn’t working.

And now it’s September.

And they’re in school.

And I’m still distracted.

I swear my brain craves it. It wants to be distracted. It wants shiny bits of useless information more than it wants a book. Well, maybe not more, but I’m not good with delayed gratification, and a 100,000 word book is a bit of a long goal. Internet articles and blog posts and Twitter are immediate. Checking e-mail is fast and sometimes even rewarding. Chatting with friends is easy and almost always a good time.

There are days when I will read the back of a shampoo bottle instead of getting to work. Compelling stuff, that.

So here I am, trying again to find a way to stick to a schedule and make myself get the work done. I have big goals, which I’m going to share with you for reasons of accountability. Those goals are going to require that I be able to focus, which is going to be hard. And no, I haven’t talked to my doctor about medications to help with that, because I’ve heard they destroy creativity.

Not cool. Though some of the other side-effects sound kind of wicked.

So it comes down to a battle of wills, me vs. myself. All I have in my arsenal are a few techniques to try, a schedule and goals written on lined paper, a novel outline with plenty of wiggle room, and… well, a little help from my friends.

Here’s the plan:

Every morning, I get 3 hours to work (I take the kids to school and am back by 8:45, and I go to pick them up at 11:45). Assuming I get coffee, etc. made before work time, and accounting for bathroom breaks, I should be able to get 3,000 words out a morning if I’m drafting book 3 of the Bound Trilogy.

No, it’s not an impressive speed, but I need thinking time. And hey, it could go up. In the future some of those days will be for editing, revisions, and for other production-type-stuff when it gets closer to release time for book 2, but for October and November, it will be writing.

In the afternoon, I get 1.5 hours, and that needs to include walking the dog and any social media stuff. Because I’m not blogging or facebooking or tweeting in the mornings anymore, right?

Hmm. Jack might not be getting the hour-long walks he’s used to.

*sigh*

*sigh*

But I think that’s the key. During my work hours in the morning, I can only WRITE. No distractions. Facebook is only for word sprints with friends, not for reading or posting or chatting (good luck to me there). I have to train myself not to OOH, HANG ON, THAT E-MAIL MIGHT BE IMPORTANT.

We’ll see how it goes. If I can manage those mornings 5 days a week, I’ll have the first draft of book 3 done before the end of November. That leaves lots of time for rests and revisions before… well, I won’t get ahead of myself now.

GOALS:

60,000 words in October

60,000 words in November

Revisions on another project in December (for the 2 weeks  I’ll have before I get edits back on Torn, then a break for Christmas)

115,000+ words in January (editing, not writing)

 

Maybe if I write those goals on the wall, if I have a clock ticking come January (because there’s still so much work to do after editing, and no time to waste if we want this book out in March), if I put the pressure on, I’ll be able to turn away from distractions.

I’ve said that before, and it hasn’t worked out.

But maybe this time I’m not lying to myself. Maybe this time I kick procrastination’s ass, I find a way to focus, and I get stuff done.

We’ll see.

 

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About Kate Sparkes

Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with a Mountie, two kids who take turns playing Jeckyll and Hyde, two cats, an intentional boxer and an accidental chihuahua. She's the author of the bestselling Bound Trilogy (mature YA Fantasy). www.katesparkes.com View all posts by Kate Sparkes

12 responses to “Schedules, Habits, and Lying to Myself

  • sknicholls

    That’s a lot of words 🙂

  • kristenotte

    I turn off my wifi when I write. I used to turn it off at the router, now I can just turn off the wifi on my computer since I’ve trained myself. It’s helped my productivity tremendously.

  • pjsandchocolate

    Don’t diss the shampoo bottle. I like to read the ingredients out loud for a tongue twister morning.

  • L.S. Engler

    Keep at it, Kate. That’s the best advice I can give, because that’s the only way a habit can form, and once that habit it there, it sticks. I’ve finally gotten into the swing of my new schedule, and it still has its distracted moments, but I’m finally starting to see results. In November, I’m thinking of even cutting out the Internet to focus on making sure my NaNo goals get done before anything else. You’ll find that rhythm and it will be awesome.

  • Gloria Weber

    It is my morning writing time. I’m supposed to be editing. I’m reading your blog post.

    Solidarity, sista!

    Honestly, I know exactly what you are going through. I (in theory) moved blog reading/replying/twitter/blogging/all that stuff to after dinner. You know, to get more writing/editing out of my writing time. But sometimes I open something while the kids are getting ready for school or before I do dog walks and I know if I close it without reading it I never will read it and I want to read it… Yeah.

    Best wishes to you in your war against distractions. I’ll resume battle myself (get to work) now.

  • rachelalsowrites

    I just wrote a blog post about how I’m actually going to start editing/rewriting properly…since then I’ve watched YouTube and read your blog post…

    But my iPad cover says “all good things start with procrastination” and it would never lie to me!

    Good luck with your goals, I think it’s almost time for me to make more of my own, and start asking the internet to hold me accountable!

  • L. Marie

    Wow! What a schedule! But Kate, you can do this. You’re very prolific and imaginative. You got this.

  • Lori L MacLaughlin

    Here’s to progress and keeping schedules! Good luck!

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