So much is being asked out of writers today. We not only have to research and write a book, but publishers expect us to blog and use Twitter to help promote it. But no one talks about how to manage the time for all of these, and the last place you want to be in is figuring out how to manage it with a deadline looming.
When I worked with a cowriter, an agent requested a full. It was exciting. I was envisioning that we would be taking the next step in our writing career. But I told cowriter we needed to come up with methods to finish the book faster because of the publisher’s year deadlines. Maybe he meant to be supportive, but he dismissed it, saying deadlines could be negotiated. I had this immediate image in my head: Him blowing off the deadline and me in a panic doing all the writing work at the last minute to make the deadline.
Doing things at the last minute takes control of time away.
And the last thing we want to do is try to learn how to manage it in an emergency. I’ve worked in a culture where everything is an emergency and have had to learn how to manage time in the middle of it.
There’s a slow blogger movement, motivated partially by unrealistic advice to “Blog everyday” to writers (not understanding that writers are also writing books) and the unspoken lack of managing time. I was in a blogging for writers class, and a lot of writers blogged three times a week — and waited until it was the next post needed to be posted before coming up with an idea and then writing it. That turned it into an emergency that monopolized writing time.
Likewise, I’ve had a lot of trouble with research. I don’t enjoy it, so I’m never going to get lost doing it. But on my book, I’ve also had to go back to the research well four separate times. As I started the first draft, I knew there would be an auction in the story, so I dug up everything on auctions. In the revision, the auction disappeared. I’ve also done “hit and run” research — I’m writing, and I realize I need a piece of information. I stop, search the internet, and dig out what I need An hour’s gone now. Because I also don’t know really what information to look for, I’ve had to stop and do research over and over — and yet, still not get everything I need. That eats at time, and it’s a lot of time.
Sometimes how we do things is the problem. For research, I didn’t learn how in college — teachers just gave us term papers and said to make sure we had our sources. I even look at other fiction writers and how they research. They start talking about binders and tabs, and I’m trying to figure out how to chose the information I need to research and what to record — and what not to record. This is one of the reasons I’m taking a class on how to research starting this week.
What are you doing to manage your time better?