Monday, May 26, 2008

So Many Stories, So Little Time

Like so many, dare I say most? writers, I have a day job. During the school year, I rarely have the time to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard—unless it’s paid work. The good news is, unlike some, I do have the summers off. So, this is prime writing time.

But…here’s the harsh reality: three months isn’t enough. I have one manuscript I’d like to finish. Another just caught my heart and I wrote fifty pages on the new one last week (instead of the old one). If I plot ahead instead of writing, the page count isn’t there. I also feel the need to research some of my facts—again, time away from writing. Aargh!

Oh, and not to mention, my web site needs work, I should be submitting to agents and editors, and blog! Wait, I’m doing that-whew. I know all about prioritizing, and how’s that working for me? Not.

Further, even though I technically have the summer off, I do teach one night class starting tonight. My advisees need help signing up for classes. I have a meeting today at ten plus I need to prep for the class I’m teaching.

Think I’m done? NO. I have kids and a husband. Kid number one requires frequent nagging and still may fail geometry. Kid number two is in softball (almost over), swim team (just starting), chorus (just finished), student council, piano lessons, and is starting at the School of the Arts next year (so we have orientation to attend). Husband, friends, and church get leftovers.

Wait! There's also me! I do make it a priority to get enough sleep, exercise, cook halfway healthy meals, and Read.

Okay, glad to have that off my chest. In case you haven’t guessed it, this blog is about time management--and planning your writing career. The club I advise at school hasn’t won regional and national awards (end of the year report’s due next Saturday) via my lack of organizational skills—so I’ll calm myself down and organize.

I need to finish at least one manuscript—the new one has me excited and I have 350 pages to go, divided by ten weeks to go, two weeks will be shot because of vacation so eight weeks. Each week I need around 47 pages, requiring about 6.5 pages a day. I can do that, barring unforeseen circumstances (which will undoubtedly happen but at least I have a plan).

I also want to revise the other manuscript but find I can’t really work on two at the same time…so I’m going to wait until I have a first draft of the new one.

My goal is to blog every other Monday—so expect itJ Another goal will be to submit to either an agent or editor every week. That will be more difficult , but the purpose will be to have something at all times so the rejections will be offset (dream on) by the hopeful something still out there.

So, my foray into First Draft in 30 Days has been waylaid by my passion for a new project. I am combining Karen Wiesner’s approach with a need to write. The concept of keeping a folder for every idea you have---and getting those out of your system has been wonderful! Character sketches I’ve done in the past. Setting sketches, background sketches, are new to me and helpful. Doing all this plotting without writing, I can’t do!

Some of these career goals ideas also come from her book, but she gives examples from a different stage of her career. How about you? Do you write blithely along, enjoying the writing bug as it hits? Or do you have very specific goals for each area of your career—writing, revising, promotion, submitting?


Evonne Wareham said...

You and me both. I have been trying to come up with a plan for finishing the current manuscript that I have seven eights done, plus two other ideas that have suddenly begun to yap at my heels. All this while cleaning the shower! The best I have come up with so far is trying to run them all at once. Life is hard.

Lexie O'Neill said...

Good to hear from you on this Memorial Day weekend (um, probably not a vacation day for your side of the pond). I teach at a small school where holidays aren't necessarily observed.
I was hoping someone would wave a magic wand!:) One of the ideas I did mention that I got from the Wiesner book is to create folders for the other ideas...put everything in there you've got and then let them go. I really like this, have ten folders sitting beside my desk, and it's okay to leave them because they'll still be there when I'm ready.

Savanna Kougar said...

Lexie, my only basic goal is get done whatever I can get done -- between all the other stuff, life interruptions (always ongoing), crisis, etc.
Folders? did someone say folders? I have plastic trunks full of folders, partially written, ideas out the wazoo, all my beloved characters.
I have floppies also, and now CD's full of mss in every stage.
Currently, I need to focus on completing the edits for Tangerine Carnal Dreams. Then the edits for When a Good Angel Falls. I need to complete Pleasures of Blue Lotus Oil. And I'm squeezing in attempting to finish Don't Bite the Fortune Teller, so I can submit it to Liquid Silver's Halloween Anthology. Which, BTW, is open to submissions, due in by June 30.
I'm not complaining about what success I have achieved. Nor am I complaining about the hard work of it. I am complaining about not having enough time to get everything done!!!
You are so right!!! Evonne!
Life is hard.
Lexie, I hope you find the time and energy you need to keep on writing and submitting. But, you know what, family first. Really.

Lexie O'Neill said...

I love how you find the time to reply to all the posts--good for you! I also love the many authors actually are proud of how they lock the doors and keep the kids out and writing comes first. I heartily agree with you--family first, plus make some time for the rest.
I actually feel a lot better today after teaching last night. I just felt overwhelmed by having to go to work last night--summer night classes go from 6 - 9:45!
But I did it...

Savanna Kougar said...

Oh, Lexie, kind of you to say. But I do have more time to comment simply because I don't have any kidlets, and those kinds of responsibilities. But having grown up with five siblings, I do value family first. Not that my siblings would agree, since I can't get into their particular life style choices, and live life their way. Nonetheless, I love them all dearly. And would help them any way I could.
It's amazing to me that you get as much done as you do!

Trish Milburn said...

I've discovered over the years that no matter if a person has a day job or not, or if they have kids or not, or if they have summers off or not, etc., time management is always a challenge. I think maybe it's because we all try to do too many things and we always stress that we don't have enough time to devote to each.

Savanna Kougar said...

Oh Trish, you are so right. Currently promo is beating my tuckus. I'm in the process of learning how manage my time and energy around that.

Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

I agree with a lot of what was said--life has a way of interrupting your dreams. My only advice is to be ruthless about your writing time. When things were very crazy with my family I got up an hour early and stayed up an hour later to write. Two hours doesn't seem like a lot of time but it kept my manuscript moving along--slowly but surely. Even if I could only get 30 minutes in during a lunch break I took it and did what I could do. Take whatever time you can get and do what you can do in that time. Yes, it would be wonderful to have no commitments other than writing but I wonder if I would be as driven . . . somehow I work better under pressure.

Here's hoping you find some time to work on your dreams! :)