Reading through Angela’s blog one can glean a lot of fantastic ideas about marketing yourself and promoting your work. I, for one, can certainly use all the ideas I can absorb. I could discuss the things I’ve done, like color bookmarks, signings at independent bookstores, etc. Instead, I thought I would share my version of time management where writing is concerned.
I think it only proper to start with being prepared to write. “Well, DUH!” you say. I realize that seems overtly obvious, but how many among us have tried to squeeze in a little writing time in-between appointments, or maybe about forty minutes before you need to be somewhere else. I don’t doubt that some people can pull this off, but my money would be on the more numerous of us that have our good intentions slip from under our feet. Most people I know who write like to be secluded, tucked away in a quiet room, or at least removed from all the distractions of daily life. I know some who even wait until everyone else is in bed or wake up before everyone else to have those quiet moments to write.
When you do have (or make) that time, be ready to do it. Be focused. Have your coffee, tea, or whatever next to you. Have your notes at your side. Have your laptop or computer fired up and a cursor blinking, waiting for your keystrokes. If you write low-tech — and good for you if you do! — have your pad and pen at the ready. Have the lights on where you need them. Next time you sit down to write, try to note how many times you get up for this or that. It’s an eye-opener to become aware of how easily distracted we can be.
I set all that up because I have to be prepared to write. I work full-time, and depending on the time of year also have things I do with my son, so my time can be limited. My approach to making the best use of this time is a little unconventional, and it’s two-pronged:
• I use work time, driving time, etc., as what I call consideration time.
• I utilize my Blackberry as a miniature typewriter.
See, I don’t always have 3-8 hours a day that I can devote to writing. I do have that kind of time away from the keyboard, though. So I needed to find a way to work at writing without being in front of a word processor, and the human brain is a magnificent tool we all have at our disposal all the time. Using “consideration time” allows me to feed my subconscious and actively mull over ideas, characters, dialogue—in short, everything. The mere act of active thinking creates connections in the brain. When we sleep these connections are often used as fodder for dreams, and more importantly for those long stretches when we’re not dreaming but more deeply at rest. We almost literally let those thoughts simmer. I’m always amazed at how the constant activity of the subconscious brain can yield results I likely never would have conjured via the usual waking efforts.
For those times when I know I’ve had that ‘light bulb’ moment, I use the notepad feature on my Blackberry to at least get the skeleton of my thoughts documented, because chances are excellent they won’t make it to my fingertips by the time I can sit down and write. Typing on those little keys lacks the gratifying flailing of fingers on a keyboard, but it also saves my fleeting thoughts for inclusion later.
I’ve found that by making the most of my time away from the keyboard I can make the most efficient use of my time at it. As with all things personal, your mileage may vary.
About the author
J.W. Nicklaus is the author of The Light, The Dark & Ember Between. To find out more about J.W. and his book, visit www.avomnia.com.