Sunday, 9 October 2016

Well That Was Enlightening!

Last week, I decided to keep a log of what I did with my time. It's been an eye opening experience, and a complete fail in terms of getting things done. I'm hoping that last week was just one of those awful out of control weeks when nothing went my way, because I got hardly anything done on my 'to do list' and on top of that, I ended up doing loads of extra stuff too.

However, I've remained fairly calm about the whole thing, probably because I've been dealing with the fall out of the week, but mainly because I know, that this was an experiment, and whatever it showed I was going to have to deal with no matter what...

What I've learnt is;

# A big chunk my life is spent at work, or travelling for work.

# I go to bed far too late.

# The best laid plans go awry.

# I'm maybe too ambitious

This is what I didn't and did achieve;

# No early morning writing sessions, not a one due to being far too tired to get up at the crack of dawn, or because I was traveling (driving) to work early.

# No #writingchat session due to travelling back from work.

# No Phoenix Writing Challenge (I didn't go - see why further down)

# No letter writing.

# Restarting Phoenix Subs Club didn't happen.

# No Pilates, no sessions in the pool, and no visits to the gym.

What did I do? I missed going to my writing group, and spent the time working on my novel instead. Then in the afternoon I went out walking. Throughout the week I listened to about an hour and a half of my audio book whilst driving or cooking.

What went wrong? 

Too many things to individually list here, albeit to say, it was one of those weeks! And I'll leave it at that. I have realised a few things though - I need to get more sleep, I need to take a long hard look at where my life is going, and perhaps not make such ambitious plans.

I suffered from what I call the 'knock on effect' a lot last week. For example, I went to bed late because I stayed up to watch something on catch up TV, I woke up tired the next day, and couldn't face my early writing session.

The work day was manic, I skipped lunch, or had a late lunch on other days, the roads were horrendous, too many vehicles, too many roadworks. I was late home, far too late to cook meals I had planned, and often had to go with plan B, different food, that I could prepare quickly.

By the time it was served, I had missed my Pilates, or gym sessions too. I was much later starting necessary chores, like laundry, cleaning and shopping etc and the day and evening just disappeared.

I'm going to continue with the time log again this week, as I want to get a true reflection of what is happening to my time. As for making a 'to do list' I think I need to keep it very simple.

Goals for the week ahead

# Work on the novel

# Restart the Phoenix Subs Club

# Take part in #Writingchat on Wednesday over on Twitter at 8pm - 9pm  - Do join in.

# Do some exercise, any exercise!

# Derby Writers Day

What I was grateful for last week

# Fresh fruit - Lots of it, pears, apples, grapes, banana, pineapple and raspberries which kept me going.

#  The friend who sorted out some administrative stuff, and saved me time.

#  The walk through the deer enclosure at Calke Park

That's it! Hope your week went better than mine and you've made plans for the week ahead. Do share them with us here at the First Draft Cafe.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

How Am I Going To Finish This Damned Novel?

So here we are in October. Just three months of 2016 remain, and I'm thinking, what can I do to make the most of what’s left of this year? Maybe, before I do that I ought to quickly review what I’ve already achieved, and practice the glass half full mindset, rather then getting downhearted about what I haven’t done. 

So, I’m still doing edits on my novel, and those edits have led to huge chunks of the story being rejigged, which in turn has led to changes. And of course changes mean rewriting. What I’m trying to say is, goal posts have moved and I’ve had to move with them.

Mentally, I don’t feel I’m any further ahead, but I must be? The question I’m asking myself now, is how, and more importantly, when will I finish this damned novel? It’s down to time management, and motivating myself to reach my goal. Which is a finished novel, ready to send out for a professional edit. 

I’m very lucky, not only do I have some amazingly supportive writing buddies to champion me along the way, I also belong to critique group where I get constructive feedback. I’m also in a good routine having changed from night owl to lark this year, I write at least four mornings out of seven, as well as one evening. The issue is the small amount of time I am spending on it, and although it's good to be chipping away, I'm not making big strides. 

So what can I do to aid me getting finished? It boils down to carving out even more time to write, and becoming more focused than I am at the moment. Honestly, I’m sitting here thinking, how on earth can I find any more time in my already busy week, unless I cut the other stuff I do now? Can I cut any more stuff? Do I want to cut anything else out? How many writers reading this are in the same position? You want to write, you really want to finish a project, but you are struggling to ‘make’ the time. And like me you have other necessary stuff that you really, really have to keep, be that caring for children, looking after an elderly relative, or even yourself. And then of course you might work too. Or have other pressing commitments.

I’ve been reading Give Up Ironing -  A Writers Guide To time Management by Kathleen Mc Gurl which goes a long way with trying to deal with writers who procrastinate. Yes, I’m reluctant to use that word but it’s the only one I can think of, or maybe I should use ‘time poor’ instead. Which ever it is, it’s making me frustrated and unhappy. Which is no good because it’s taking away the enjoyment of writing, and makes me think, do I want to be a novelist? 

From today, I’m following Kath's advice to keep a diary of what I’m doing with my time. For the next seven days I’m going to look for the gaps, where frankly I could be writing, because even though I think I’m filling my hours wisely,  I can’t be using my time as well as I think, otherwise I’d of been finished by now. 

It’s vital I also invest time in my health and well being, so I must continue with exercise to keep my back healthy, and to be honest, my head too, as we all know that exercise makes us feel happy. Once you’ve made the effort to start that is…and that’s the same with the writing too!


Writing  - Editing my novel 5 days out of six, Phoenix Writers challenge, writing a letter, and taking part in #writingchat on Twitter on Wednesday evening. Oh and re-starting the Phoenix Subs Club. Otherwise known as getting my work out there! 

Exercise - Two pool sessions, one pilates class, and one gym visit. Any walking will be a bonus. 

Reading - Continue listening to my latest audio book. 

I'll also have to do all the stuff real life chucks at me, like working, and family commitments, but I shall give it my best shot, and I’ll keep a log, to see where my time is seeping through the cracks, and could perhaps be used more wisely. However, I will definitely have to factor in some relaxation too. 


# Catching up with friends and family. Although they were only small snatches of time, I’ve managed to catch up with family and friends this week.

# Meeting fellow writers and #writingchat folk, Carol Bevitt and Patsy Collins is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while and it finally happened yesterday. It was lovely to meet them in person and catch up with writerly topics. We even went for a short walk before the heavens opened and forced us into the cafe for refreshments. 

# Losing a pound and a half at Slimming World - In the words of Tesco, every little helps. As we move into Autumn, I’m looking forward to soups and stews.

# Receiving a letter. Yes, a real letter. Full of news from a writing buddy I met on Twitter a few years ago, and then in person, and now we are pen pals. 

It looks like I'm going to be very busy, and I may not succeed to get everything done, but I'm going to give it my very best shot. I’ll let you know how I get on next week.

Do let me know if you’ve made plans for the last quarter of the year, and if so what they are? I love hearing from you.

Have a good week! 

Planning Your Time - How Hard Can it Be?

Blue Skies Over Tenby - Maria A Smith  Planning your time is often much harder than you ever dreamt or expected it to be, and if you do...