What a hoot! I opened up the various guest blogs I wrote during the virtual tour for the My Dearest Mr. Darcy release and this one was next in line, perfectly falling on the schedule when I will be crazy busy at the RWA conference. Time, and how to manage to DO IT ALL will be heavy on my mind amid the fun!! And here is a blog written ages ago that touches on just how difficult time management is for a writer. Perhaps I have learned to handle it all better…… but then again, maybe not! LOL! Either way, enjoy. I will be back soon with conference and vacation news.
“Time! There is no time!” by Sharon Lathan
Jack Bauer has nothing on me. OK, I am not saving the world and the president has never called me up for a one on one convo. But when it comes to feeling as if the clock is loudly ticking with the thum-thum-thum of doom, I totally get Jack’s grim panic. Too bad I can’t do the scratchy, sexy voice…. But that is for another discussion!
My life as a hopeful writer was a fairly leisurely one. Sure, I had the real life job, family, housekeeping duties, etc. to keep me from writing in ten-hour blocks. Yet, when I was writing for fun and personal pleasure the demands were not as great and it was easy to drown out the few distractions.
There is no denying that nearly from the moment I signed that first contract my time shrunk. It almost was visible! I swear the hands on the clock began to spin faster! The added responsibilities of marketing myself, running the blog, and the process of editing – while still working at the hospital and trying to keep the house functioning – crunched into that leisurely writing time.
Am I complaining? Oh no! Heaven forbid! I love being published and am having a blast with my blog, the launch activities and touring, the guest speeches, and working with my editor. However, the truth is the truth and I don’t believe in burying my head in the sand in denial.
So, how do I juggle it all? Have I discovered the magic secret? Ha! I wish! Every day is a balancing act. Some weeks I feel really good about what I have accomplished and pat myself on the back for being so organized and focused. Then another curve ball is thrown my direction and I have to reevaluate. The hardest part for me has been to accept that large portions are beyond my control. This Type-A gal does not like to be out of control! I haven’t completely mastered shrugging nonchalantly, but I am daily improving in the art of deep breathing – and prayer!
Discipline truly is the key to balancing a writer’s life. Fortunately I am fairly disciplined. Unfortunately my work schedule does not allow me to be on a set writing schedule. So I have to reapply the careful planning on a daily and weekly basis. Simple aids like a large calendar in my office help me to see what is ahead so I can prepare. Retreating to my office where I can concentrate is essential.
I keep my goals achievable. I am not one who can force myself to write X number of words a day. Rather I look at each task and set a time limit on when it needs to be done. I also refuse to panic or beat myself up if I am unable to accomplish a goal. Instead I look at why it was not done, decide if it was due to a fault of my own that I can correct or avoid in the future, or just the result of circumstances. So far I have managed to be ahead of every deadline and never have missed an appointment. That is pretty good! And it restores hope when I do sense the tendrils of panic setting in!
Clinging to the “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” adage is a lifesaver. It is very easy to succumb to the incessant demands and need to write. Thus, getting away from the computer and letting go is vital to keeping my sanity intact. Watching TV or a movie, reading books, playing silly games, lunch dates with friends – all of these entertainments are abundantly worth the time cost.
My job offers an outlet for me too. I work in a very intense environment: a neonatal ICU. My profession is a passionate love, my workplace an opportunity to socialize with friends, and my tasks mind consuming. In general I can’t be dwelling too intently on Darcy and Lizzy when I have very sick babies who need my constant attention! Alaine asked if my job was an inspiration. Certainly it is in writing of Lizzy’s pregnancy and birth, as well as the antics of their baby, since this is my area of expertise. But I think the greatest inspiration comes from the diversion; from being forced to turn off “author Sharon” and turn on “nurse Sharon.”
There is no solution to the limits of 24 hours in a day. I keep hoping but time travel hasn’t been invented yet, so that option is out! Discipline, organization, upbeat attitude, persistence…. yada, yada yada. If all that fails, I just think of Jack Bauer. After all, if he can save the world in 24 hours, anything is possible.