Sunday, May 23, 2010

Making the most of my time.

I’m busy.

Does that sound familiar?  I can also procrastinate with the best without much effort, which is why I try to keep myself on a schedule.  Routines are comforting for me and I am slowly building myself a new routine after spending years in chaos.

The only part of my day that’s scripted is my work day.  I know I have to be at work at seven in the morning and I can leave around two.  On Wednesdays I have meetings after school so that means I could be home as late as five o’clock.  Even though my kids are older and I’m not driving the carpools anymore, I still find there are tons of things that demand my time, so after winging it for a long time, I’ve decided to take control.  I make time to do what's important to me and slowly I add more to my routine.  

Writing was one of those things that I often found myself fighting to find time to do.  My biggest problem is I’m a nocturnal writer.  I do my best work between eleven at night and three in the morning; this is a problem when the alarm goes off at 5:15 AM.  However, I did find there was another stretch of time I had almost every day when the writing flowed.  I had about forty minutes in the middle of my work day when I was knocking out a couple of pages at a time.  I could write when I was on hall duty.

I've written about hall duty before.  I don’t like the way it breaks up my day and being in the library I feel like there are some days I’m on duty for nine periods, but I was assigned, so I go.  I discovered I could write productively by accident. 

I brought my netbook with me one day because I wanted to read something a friend had sent me.  I read her piece and then, with about twenty minutes left, I opened up my work in progress (WIP).  I wrote a page and a half.  It wasn’t that the hall was quiet, it wasn’t, but for some reason, even with an interruption here or there, I was able to write.  Since then, I almost look forward to my duty period.  I’ve been able to add about 3000 words to my book during my hall duty.  I know that’s not a lot, but it gets me going.  What I write while sitting in the cruddy old student desk is churning in my head the rest of the day, so by the time I get home, I’m ready to get back to work.  I’ll come home, take care of the dogs, have a cup of coffee while having a conversation with whomever is home, and then I open up what I did on my hall duty and work for a couple of hours.  Sometimes, I write a lot…sometimes not so much, but I am always moving the book forward.  That I’m doing all this while it’s still daylight is a big plus.

So what’s my point?  Use the time you have in the best way possible.  If you can wait at a lacrosse practice with a netbook or an Alphasmart and knock out a couple of pages, do it.  If that’s your social networking time, great, then it won’t be a time sink when you sit yourself down to work on your WIP.  If you can’t write while you're waiting at the doctor's office, bring a notebook to jot ideas for your next blog post or bring pages to edit, but use your time well.

My writing productivity hasn’t gone through the roof, but it’s been steady and my new book is now over two-thirds done.  I can see the words “The End” on the horizon. My next task is to get the daily exercise in the routine.  I don’t know if that one will be as easy.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Getting back to my roots.

I went to college and was trained as a journalist. I loved my time as a reporter and even though I never went past the local and collegiate level, I felt I learned my craft. It was something I was good at. It came naturally to me and leaving it wasn't easy. But when it came right down to it, I was born to teach and I wanted a life.

However, my writing has not only given me an outlet for my stories it's given me a chance to be the person I used to be. I'm going out on an interview today. I'm plotting a new book and I've gotten in touch with a great source and we're having lunch. I'm looking forward to the conversation, to learning about this woman, and I'm eager to hear what she has to say about my topic. Later I'll take a look at what we talked about and figure out how I might be able to take my information and build something with it.

When I get back to the person I used to be, before the frustrations of teaching, before my husband and kids, I feel like I find a missing piece of myself. I love my family and I know I do good work, and I don't regret any of the decisions I've made, but it's nice to find that at this point in my life, my writing has allowed me to be all things. I can be the teacher, the mom, the wife and on occasion, the journalist. I can enjoy the utter shock on people's faces when I tell them I write romance, and I like knowing they see me differently when they know this. When I finally get published, that will be a whole new rush.

Damn, this is fun.