Sunday, July 3, 2011

News Over A Holiday

Hope everyone in the U.S.A. has fantastic plans for the July 4th holiday tomorrow and for those who live in other countries--have a great week ahead!
Like many writers, I work two paid jobs, one as an Enterprise Admin on a computer network and another as a writer. I won't even mention all the unpaid jobs we are all working. So this week, I'm taking the entire week off from my day job and hoping to catch up on some writing-related tasks.

My latest historical mystery, A Rose Before Dying, just came out (yippee!) and I was thrilled with the initial sales which far exceeded my puny expectations. I just hope the trend continues. However, like most writers, there's barely enough time to catch my breath between projects. Especially since most of my projects overlap. This week, alone, I'm hoping to either finish or get near to finishing the first draft for a Christmas season novella, and I've got to dive into revisions for a paranormal romance for my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, with the hopes they will like the revised version enough to accept it.

Time management is always such a problem for writers, particularly when many are working two (or more jobs). There's the ideal of what you should be doing, i.e.
  • Always be writing a new manuscript
  • Have another manuscript you're editing/almost ready to submit
  • Have a third manuscript (or more) floating around at publishers/agents (pick your poison)
That's a rough row to hoe. In fact, I've rarely been able to manage it, since it takes me about two years to write a book and edit it sufficiently to submit anywhere. I find that some years, I'm doing nothing but writing, followed by a year (or more) when I'm trying to edit what I've written to get it in sufficient shape to get it critiqued and then submitted...somewhere. This has led to a herky-jerky writing career with huge gaps between book releases. Very unsatisfying.

But what can you really do about it? Considering I have (at most) 4 hours a night to do all my writing, editing, critiquing (for my crit groups), promotion, and submissions, that's not an easy answer. While 4 hours sounds like a's not. Generally, what with dinner and other necessary activities, it ends up being more like 2 hours.

Time Management
What I'm trying to do to conquer the beast:
  • Promotion - don't do promotion in the evenings, do it at odd times, instead. When I get up in the morning, lunchtime, etc.
  • Writing - 1 hour per weekday, all other tasks not withstanding, weekends as possible (I do need some down time considering I have two high-pressure jobs and occasionally, my mind just blanks out on me if I don't)
  • Critting - 1 hr, 2 days per week, (more if I'm bored or have time)
  • Editing - as demanded by publishers, or 1 hour per day
As you can see, that's going to add up to more than the available hours, and it is difficult to switch gears between editing and writing my own stuff, but oddly, not critting and writing. So there are some psychological issues there (which may just be my own stodgy brain).

However, we shall see if I really can keep riding this time management beast to the finish line, or if I wind up with my usual: year of furious writing/year of insane editing schedule.

How do you manage your time? How rigid are you about making yourself meet self-imposed time slots?


Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Amy, I'm retired. My grown children live in other states. My husband, also an author, understands the time needed to write, promote, critique, mentor, etc. Even so, I feel time-drained. My cumputer is chugging along from 9am to 1am--we're night owls here.

So it is with great awe and respect that I watch you younger writers with outside jobs and children still at home. I marvel at all you achieve. You are literary heroes, every one. Time management? I don't see how you do it; yet you seem to with grace and style.

morgan said...

I waste time, often I call it research, but when someone tells me they need something in two months or two weeks I get it done. This usually involves no staying late at my paid work, dining out of the microwave, and wearing whatever I can find clean. This is not good time management. I can learn from you.:)

Mona Risk said...

Amy, I'm retired from my day job and retired from my housewife job, meaning I don't do laundry anymore. DH took over when he couldn't find a clean shirt. I don't clean; DH hired a cleaning lady when he got fed up of vaccuuming. I don't go grocery shopping. Guess who took over? Okay, and I cook only twice a week. The rest of the time we eat leftovers, take out, or sandwiches.
Still I can hardly cope with writing, editing, critiquing, emails, blogs, comments, contests judging,...I'm sure I forgot a few.
Since I live in the head of my heroine, I can do one book at a time. But of course I stop when needed by trips, editors' editing, or grandchildren's visit.

Jill James said...

My children are grown and married or almost married. And I feel like I had more time when I was doing car pool, scouts, baseball, swimming, etc.

I like a tight schedule where if I don't do it now, something else will come up that needs to be done. I get lazy with hours of time.

Josie said...

I like your reference to unpaid jobs. Sometimes I think I have a dozen---but most of my time these days is trying to keep track of my 16 year old daughter.

I don't remember my older sons (now 34 and 31) taking up so much of my time.