First, I’m writing this post at 5:30 AM. That’s about the time I rise this time of year…I’m a seasonal creature, so my sleep pattern shifts. I am an early riser in the fall and winter and am down for the count around eleven o’clock. But my sleep habits aren’t the topic today. The question before me is how do I deal with distractions and such. Well, here goes.
How do I balance my writing and my work? Writing is my work. So, I start by accepting that fact. Now, that doesn’t mean I am earning loads of money as a writer and can “quit my day job.” It’s just that I don’t think of writing as something I do after my day job. It’s my job and must be folded into my daily schedule. Before the pandemic, my schedule included a few months out of the year, working on event management projects. That is no longer part of my schedule. So, now, I write all day:) — and according to deadlines, most of the night, too.
Distractions are a bit easier to recognize and deal with once you accept that writing is your job. Be it a part-time job, full-time, weekends-only.
My daily task lists every day, even on weekends, includes — writing, reading, and thinking about or talking about writing and reading.
However, I am easily distracted–the challenge of a wandering mind.
Social media is one of my loves. (Yes, you read that right!). I enjoy staying connected online with author friends, family, and readers (and hopefully more readers soon:). So with that admission, how do I manage to keep up with the things I enjoy without them becoming the time suck they were developed to be?
Repetition rules. In other words, find a pattern, nurture the pattern, turn it into a habit until it becomes a routine.
Nonetheless, I am often in a tug of war between getting it done and distractions.
So, here are some bullet points on how I strive to control my daily schedule:
- Number 1: What time of day does your brain feel at its best, and by best, I mean when are you most creative? I write starting at six AM until 9 AM. The next hour I spend making more coffee and hanging out on social media, writing correspondence, and conducting follow-up. I put a timer on to help me from getting ‘lost’ in the non-writing projects, limiting the amount of time I devote to stuff that’s not writing. By eleven o’clock, I return to writing.
- Number 2: I have a short attention span. So, I use devices with alarms and timers, so I accomplish tasks in intervals. I know that I can write for 20 minutes, but then I need a break, a distraction, something else to think about for 20 minutes. So my routine is 20 minutes of planning a scene, 20 minutes of writing a scene, 20 minutes of messing around, and then repeat and play again.
- Number 3: By 2 PM, I need a long break. I take it. And I use that time to work on another project. It doesn’t matter what that other project might be. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a writing project, can be taking care of bills, exercising, catching up on the business end of writing, or taking a freaking nap. This is my two-hour break (except during deadlines when there is only one task for each day, every hour of the day:).
- Number 4: When I want to get on my cell phone and chat with friends, etc., instead of sitting in my apartment, I walk and talk. This new approach helps me add some additional (needed) exercise to my schedule, and since the pandemic (in particular), the phrase “butt in the chair” has taken on a meaning that translates quickly into detrimental to your health. So break up the fun. Write, exercise, plan, exercise, edit, revise, write, exercise:)!
Oh, I also don’t watch television news. I read the news–old school, yes, but I do read online. I also have a timer on my phone — I don’t receive calls beginning at 10 pm in the evening until 12 noon. To reach me you must text:).
Finally, the number ONE thing to keep top of mind is sh*t happens. So roll with it. Tomorrow is another day.