A Tale of Two Schedules by Deb Jess

I have two daily schedules, depending on the time of year. Between late May and early October, my daily routine is free, open, and limited only by my own tendency to flake out and flit from one task to the next. I get up around 8:30, pour myself a giant mug of coffee, check on the caterpillars in my monarch ranching project, make sure the dog is fed and watered, and sit down at the computer to begin procrastinating immediately. I don’t like to waste any time on that.

Book promotion and the writing of book number two are actually twisted together in a strange kind of braid—I’ll be wrapping up emails or visiting blogs when the perfect phrase will hit me, so I have around seven windows open on my toolbar at a given time (I have six going right now): email accounts, Word files, blogs I mean to visit, and so on. I flip back and forth between them all in a crazy kind of dance, sometimes actually investing a few hours in my work-in-progress, and yes, it is as unorganized as it sounds.

Around eleven I take a break to walk the dog and water my flowers. I’ll get the mail, and lose an hour reading an article in the latest Writer’s Digest or Mother Jones magazine, do a load of laundry or start a sinkful of dishes, and maybe somewhere in there I’ll shower, then run to the post office, stop at Target or Festival Foods, read a novel in the backyard, meander about. Later, hey! Time to meet D & Nic for happy hour at Peabodies.

I will finish the final six chapters of my novel in progress starting next week. I swear!

I’m very fortunate to have this schedule in summer, because my employer is generous and flexible and all-around awesome. However, when I return to work in October, this is the schedule I will shift into on weekdays:

7:30—up, shower, iron outfit, walk dog as quickly as possible, coffee poured in travel mug, lunch briskly packed
9:00—leave for work commute
9:20—experience minor road rage at idiot drivers befuddled by construction
9:40—enter parking ramp, park, and walk two blocks to the office
9:50—check work email, phone messages, make daily To-Do list
1-1:30—eat at desk and check email again
1:30-2—visit with coworkers in hallway. There is always something new to gripe about.
2-5:30—work some more. If it is our ‘busy grant season,’ this will extend to 8 or 9 pm.
5:40 (or 9 pm, depending)—leave for commute home. Sing loudly along with Journey.
Later, dinner…a work-out, perhaps…a new blog entry…more emails…phone…and bed.

Rinse, lather, and repeat from October 1 – May 20. Notice there is no fiction writing in there.

As it is now mid-August and I still have sixty pages to crank out by the end of the month, it’s time to get serious. If we sell my next novel, I will need to figure out how to complete revisions while grant writing full-time (and cooking and shopping and cleaning and paying bills and caring for the dog and maintaining friendships and a marriage and participating in family events and blogging and working out and and and…).

So tomorrow I’ll take a deep breath and do a little more meandering while the meandering days are still here.

Have a great, meandering kind of weekend!

Jess Riley

15 Replies to “A Tale of Two Schedules by Deb Jess”

  1. Thanks for sharing your work schedule. I am sure you will work magic and get your second book done. Congrats by the way on the success of your first book Driving Sideways

  2. I’ve noted before (a zillion times to myself and several times to others) that I’m in such a schedule crisis! I have to figure out a real routine/regimen for myself…because I’ve heard that if you never finish writing your book you have much less of a chance of it ever getting published! 😉

  3. Thanks Cheryl! I am going to get cracking on the next book this morning. 🙂

    Amy, I hear you…as I wrote my ‘work schedule,’ I wondered how on earth I’d fit children in there, too! But I’ve heard it a zillion times: give the best part of your day (whenever you’re mentally ‘freshest’) to your writing, and take it page by page. You’ll get there!

  4. I’m retired so I don’t have an excuse to not write…But I usually will find something that gets in the way, either real or made-up. I do try to write early in the morning, I’m fresh, the house is queit, and I write better in my jammies.

  5. No pressure, Jess, but please meander to that window which contains your WIP and write more than expected. DRIVING SIDEWAYS was wonderful and I look forward to N2 ASAP!

  6. Thanks for sharing your schedules, Jess. I love hearing how other writers schedule their time (or in my case, try to schedule).

    Wishing you buckets of luck on finishing #2. After Driving Sideways, I can’t wait to read it!

  7. Eileen & Pam–our comments crossed mid-stream! I’ll try to post some photos of the monarch ranch on my own blog next week…and thanks for the well wishes, Pam!

  8. ahh – happy hour drinks help me make it through my work week.

    “Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.”

    Drew Carey

    So – tusday at the bar, right? I’ll be the one sniffling from allergies, and happily mixing meds with booze. more bang for your buck yo!

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