Do you struggle with balancing your fiction writing time with your day job? Discover a step-by-step method for managing your day job and your writing.
Time management experts often assume work is the only thing in your life and that everyone is a manager or entrepreneur. Herein, I'll take a deep dive into managing your time and what you can do about it as an employee. Once you learn how much your day job influences your writing, you can put what you've learned to use. Inside, you will find out how to …
•Identify hidden work that bogs you down
•Prevent "fire fighting" that drains your creativity
•Manage your schedule so it doesn't impact your writing
•Manage your energy so you can write after work
Everyone wants easy. That's today's culture.
They want someone to tell them the right tip or show them a hack that will solve all their problems. So we move from tip to hack to app, thinking that maybe it wasn't the right thing for us. And we keep telling ourselves that once we implement the solution, we can go on autopilot. Never think about it again.
I spotted it when I first got online, during the gold rush days when everything was new and exciting. I'd posted Microsoft Word tips, discussing features that confused writers. These were issues that cropped up because we were submitting stories to magazines,
A woman emailed me with a question about Microsoft Word. It felt good being needed, so I responded with instructions.
Then she asked me how to do a common task in the program. She could have easily found the answer online.
Replying to an email was faster.
That's why tips and hacks are so popular. They're quick. They're simple. You can use them as an action list and feel you've accomplished something. You don't spend a lot of time "fixing" the problem.
Except it isn't fixed. It's still there with a cheap store-brand bandage slapped on a cut that continues to bleed.
Worse, the ease of tips and hacks hides a bigger issue. One that's eating at every one of us and we don't realize it.
Computers make it easier to do more work.
When I was in the Army, the 384 personal computer was new. We used one to build a presentation called the quarterly training briefing.
After we finished the briefing, I printed it. Then I walked across the street to battalion headquarters with a box of transparencies. I inserted the transparencies into the copy machine and ran copies onto the plastic. This was a messy process. The copier often got too hot. The slides would jam, or sometimes just melt. If the slide wasn't too badly melted, I used it.
Then I delivered the slides to the commander's office. He presented the briefing to his boss. If there were any changes, he discussed them during the presentation.
Until computers made presentations easier to create.
Everyone said, "Now we can get these done faster!"
I did presentations in my day job for several years. Management started building the presentation a month before the meeting. We'd do a draft. Five senior managers met in a conference room and discussed it. Then I got the changes back and updated it. Emailed it to everyone.
They reviewed it and sent back more changes.
I made those changes and sent it back out. Maybe there was another meeting. More changes. It would easily undergo twenty drafts. Sometimes people just changed a single word.
On the day of the presentation. I'm trying to print paper copies for the meeting. The presenter continued making changes. I'm substituting slides, pulling others, and keeping my fingers crossed I don't goof it up.
Technology was supposed to make this easier!
But let's take it to fiction writing.
In the days of the Royal manual typewriter, the physical process of typing was difficult and had steps we'd find tedious today.
1.Add a light pencil line to the bottom margin so you didn't accidentally type off the page.
2.Insert the paper into the typewriter roller and line it up against the guide. You also had to make sure you started typing in the right place.
3.Hit the tab key. Start typing. Once you reached the end of the line, you cranked a handle and pulled the roller back to the left to go to the next line.
4.Cursed a lot when you made a typo. You might use an eraser to fix the typo or make a pencil correction. Later, you'd use correction fluid.
5.At the end of the page, remove the paper and repeat.
6.Proofread it, penciling in corrections.
As a result, pulp writers learned how to write in one draft. They were also paid a penny a word, so there wasn't any profit in any revision.
Today? The computer makes it easy to revise a novel. The steps might look like this:
1.Write a sloppy first draft. You leave all kinds of problems because they can be fixed in the revision. You insert placeholders for information to research. Maybe you take notes on problems to correct.
2.You revise the story, fixing the issues you let go of in the first draft. It takes at least three revisions—possibly as many as ten—because every change affects other parts of the story.
3.You submit the story to your critique group. They make comments. You start a new revision to make those changes.
4.The story is off to beta readers. They make more suggestions. Back for more revision.
5.At last! Now it's time for the developmental editor. She has more changes yet. Another round of revision.
6.Finally! The story is published.
7.Reviewers post comments about the book. You flag it as a call for action and revise again.
"It's easy" makes us go on autopilot. We add more work and never realize it!
I'm not complaining about computers, though. I'm a rotten typist. I started writing on my mother's Royal manual typewriter and converted to an electric one. I constantly retyped pages because I made so many typos. When I did, I made even more, leaving out entire paragraphs!
I was ecstatic to jump to a computer with a spellcheck. Artificial intelligence tools help me find as many typos as possible. I find typos with every tool.
But the tools can easily add more work, so you must be vigilant for that. The worst part about this lie is that it looks productive as it wastes your time.