Monday, January 14, 2013
Routines & what-not: How to be an author, an editor, a mum, & everything else at the same time!
It sure has been ages since I last dropped on here for Mondays' Random Thoughts. Can we say life crept up on me? I also didn't have the best of plans in 2012, just aiming at dilly-dallying at writing and see where that would take me. That might've been Mistake #1.
For, you see - to be good at any role, you cannot dilly-dally with it.
If you're an author, you write (and finish projects!). That's your job.
If you're an editor, you edit (and work around deadlines and the like).
If you're a wife, you don't happen to be married to that other person only so-many hours of the day.
If you're a mum, you're on call & on duty 24/7 at every second of every minute of every hour.
And yes, first of all, you're a woman... and one who also happens to be all the above, too. All rolled into one. And yes again - you have only 24 hours in a day to work aaaaall these miracles you're expected to achieve (new stories, promoting releases, edit deadlines, a clean house, dinner on the table and lunch boxes in school bags. Oh yeah - you're expected to sleep, too, somewhere in there!)
Are we women running right into a brick wall by trying to be Superwoman? But here's where it hurts - the average woman DOES have at least 90% of the above tasks to tackle daily. Being an average woman nowadays equals having to pull up your knee-high boots and skin-tight costume and put on the tiara - tada! Superwoman's on the scene!
Over the course of the weekend, I've waded through 1400+ emails in my inbox (that's the result of having 2 hyenas at home 24/7 for the past 9 weeks!). I have no clue where I've read what I might've read as I went through these emails, but something stuck in my head and I'll tell you what it is.
Somebody (I don't recall who, or where) said that routine gives us a time frame that rolls one into the other until the edges blur and everything is the same, regurgitated all over again. That why, apparently, we see time rushing past us (who else has asked, "Where did 2012 go???").
I don't agree... To me, routine allows you to get to everything on the tasks' list, allows you to rush that Superwoman cape through all the roles you have to endorse on a daily basis.
Proof in the pudding - I had the boys at home for 9 (looong!) weeks. Routine shot to the lowest pits of hell and me getting nothing done (hence the 1400+ emails accumulating, the dust bunny families in and around the house, the increased grocery bills as I fell on semi-prepared stuff and even *gasp* processed food to cope with the demands of 2 growing boys who are always hungry.) Oh yeah, too - NO writing done! How's that for progress???
So don't underestimate the power of routine, peeps. Routine + Scheduling = Accomplishing something (even if not everything).
How can you do that? A few tips:
1. Find a time for everything (aka - Schedule!)
At different times of the day, I am focusing on a specific role in my repertoire of existence. Waking up till 8.30AM, I'm the over-her-head mum trying to get the kiddo to school. While he's in school, 8.30AM to 3PM, I'm the author who writes and/or the editor who edits. That's also the only time in the day I can hear myself think, so I compartmentalize that 7.5 hours bracket to include some exercise without anyone laughing at my two left feet during Zumba. From 3PM to the time the kiddo goes to bed, I'm the housewife, the mum, the cook/washer/driver/teaching coach. Evening is 'my' sacred time when I get to indulge in some TV or a good book.
So throughout a day, I've managed to be author, editor, mum, wife, woman (well, on most days...) Why can't you do it?
I'm not a fan of surprises. The only surprise I would tolerate are a) finding a contract in my inbox, and b) finding the latest Sophie Kinsella chick-lit for sale on Amazon.uk.
So I plan my work week, even my weekends. This also allows me to see if I'll really be in over my head, or if I can fit everything in. For example, I have something specific planned for every day of the work week. Edits on this ms for Monday; Chap whatever on this WIP for Tuesday; Chap whatever again for other WIP on Wednesday; edits on own story on Thursday; etc.
Have something - and only that! - on your schedule for a specific length of time. Trust me, it keeps you from being a headless chicken running all over the place.
3. Allow for contingencies
At any time, a kid might get sick (or, God forbid, the hubby might get sick and think he's dying!). I myself don't have stellar health, so at any point, a cold can creep up on me and leave me on the floor.
Allow for these in your schedule. If you manage to get through without having to call on your 'carry me through' card, great. If not, you won't stress, and know you allowed yourself time to slack off.
Example - say you can write 3,000 words a day. At this rate, with 5 writing days a week, you can expect to finish a 50K ms in 19-20 days tops. One month, or 4 weeks.
Tack on an additional 2 weeks on this expectation, and give yourself some breathing room! You'll be glad for it, believe me!
4. Be dedicated
You're the only one who can do everything you have to do. No one will write your story for you (unless you can pay a ghostwriter!). No one will edit the piece you have to edit (turn it in with barely any work done and run the risk of losing your job. This applies to all jobs, btw). No one will be a mother to your kids (no, not even the nanny. She's the nanny, not the mum. And Grandma is just that - Grandma!). No one will be the wife of the man you married (unless you wanna run the risk of him finding someone else who'll better fill those wifey shoes? No? I thought so.)
5. Set goals (and reward yourself when reaching them!)
I'ev already told myself that, for the next paycheck I receive from my editing job, I'll treat myself to a pair of shoes from ALDO. That's motivation for me to hand the work in well ahead of deadline so I know I will earn that paycheck. *grin*
Reward can be something as simple as taking a week off of writing, etc, when, say, you finish a WIP.
Work towards a goal - your combative spirit will rise up to the challenge. And imagine how proud you'll be when you'll be savouring the reward you promised yourself!
6. Establish a routine!
One that works for you. My schedule can seem like a nutter's diary to you, or it can look like a walk in the park if you're even more ADD/hyper than I am.
No one knows YOUR life/existence as well as you do, so start making that knowledge work for you!
Hope this rambling above helps you find a way to a more productive 2013! If you have any tips along these lines, please, do share them!
From Mauritius with love,