Author Life: Time Is of the Essence

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One thing we always wish we had is more time.  In the day, in the week, in the year, in life, etc.  This runs amazingly true with authors.  This is why you see so many people using word goals or chapters per week.  We decide on our progress by the speed that we get through a product.  Slow and steady can be good, but there is a sense of urgency for the career author.  For traditionally published, you have deadlines.  For indie authors, you have a fear of fading away if you take too long.  Look at your authors who release a 99 cent novella every month and you can find that time is a part of the equation.

I’ve gone on about the distractions in my life a lot and received a lot of suggestions.  Also, people tend to point at the toddler as the main distraction.  We seem to think kids are the root cause of author parents, but that’s another story.  Something I’ve noticed is that nearly every writer is in a unique situation.  Some are parents with great support and have all the time in the world.  Retirees, 9-5ers, single parents, college students, and the list can keep going on.  Each person has different time management methods and mentalities for handling these distractions.  We’re not all the same, so you have to find a way to get the time you need or accept delays.  Though some delays are more acceptable than others, but I digress.

One important point about time and writing is that you shouldn’t rush.  Go at the speed that the story evolves and flows from you.  Too fast means you have a higher risk of making continuity mistakes or simply writing a bad story.  Never fear to take a break for research on something.  For example, I took 30 minutes off from writing Book 7 to find out what peacocks eat and how well they are at flying.  Answer: they will eat snakes and not the most graceful things.  This is part of the process of writing and it’s a good sacrifice of writing time.

On the other end of the spectrum, you could take too much time at one stage.  There are times where you simply have to go.  Moving on from idea to outline to first draft to edits to publish is scary.  Each stage has authors stuck in a quest for perfection, which can last decades.  We all want to write the best, but getting that first draft down will be a boon of confidence and open the flood gates.  Same with hitting that publish button.  Once you do it, the fear dissipates and you realize you’re in debut mode.  So, try very hard not to fall into the trap of thinking you have all the time in the world.  It is a finite resource and very precious.

Are there any tricks to making time work for you?  Yes, but it depends on your situation.  I have a lot to contend with in this house.  Some days are better than others, so I’ve had to utilize late nights, begging, screaming for quiet, zoning out on music, and hiding in the room when the chaos is high.  Other people I know rarely have distractions or are more hard-pressed than me.  Location can factor into it if you don’t have an office/desk, but you just have to try whatever you can think of to get that writing time.  Though I hear accepting writing breaks is a method.  I haven’t willingly tried it due to my ‘3 day of no writing depressions’, but if you’re not insane like me then give it a shot.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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16 Responses to Author Life: Time Is of the Essence

  1. sknicholls says:

    Often for me it is not the minutes or hours that I have, but making my brain work like I want it to work during those minutes and hours. I have said this on other blogs: Even when you have time, inspiration and motivation can be a difficult things to master. Sometimes I will have the entire day to write and only get down one sentence or one paragraph. I like that you say, “Don’t rush it.” That’s a mistake I believe too many make.

    I tend to binge write, which means I am deeply focused on writing or thinking about it 24/7 for a good month, or more. I feel guilty because I neglect everything else. So I am learning to mop the floors, catch up the laundry & change the sheets, set the pool chems, weed the garden, polish the furniture, buy frozen foods that are quick to prepare and stock up on easy menu stuff before I start writing. You know, get all the chores I tend to neglect while writing BEFORE I start. Then I don’t have to think about them for a while.

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    • I do that too with the errands. Get everything done in the morning and write once it’s all done. Though I’m lucky that the author brain rarely turns off. It gets confused at times, but I managed to develop a sudden surge imagination after decades of practice. It does make focusing a bit tough..

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  2. L. Marie says:

    I agree about the need to take time off for research or just to give yourself some space to allow ideas to percolate. Sometimes I need to let go of the story and do something else for a while, and then return to it with a fresher mind. But I try not to let too much time pass before returning to it. If I let a long time pass, getting back into it is harder to do so.

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  3. estyree says:

    I understand the pain of toddler distractions all too well…my terrible not-quite-two has taken to stealing my pens as of late. However, she’s also not napping so there goes my hour of scribbling! Add in the late nights of being distracted by getting lesson plans and class decorations together and I’m getting supremely frustrated with my lack of ‘real’ writing this summer. But…I have lesson plans done for almost 2 months! :)-

    My Dad likes to wait and watch television for hours before finally having a light bulb go off and writing quickly (he says that he thinks out the sentences several times but I doubt it). I like to carry a notebook around and scribble, it all depends on how YOU write and deal, just like you said. Great post

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  4. M T McGuire says:

    As Chuck Wendig says, ‘it takes as long as it takes.’ I just wish it wasn’t such a sod of a long time. 🙂 What I tell myself is that I knew I would be eating even snail and tortoise dust when I started. Indeed, for that reason, I almost didn’t start. But now, I look at where I am and I think that even taking my tiny pigeon steps towards each complete book I have finished a four book series. And Thats when I realise that however slow it feels, if you just put one word in front of the other you get there in the end. I absolutely sympathise with you frustration. I feel it with my writing, too. But trust me. You do amazing things with the time you have.

    Cheers

    MTM

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  5. I need one of those clocks! 🙂

    Time. There’s never enough of it, yet everything seems to get done somehow… (There’s a great quote or proverb, not sure by whom, that nature doesn’t hurry, yet everything gets accomplished. Not too different from ourselves.)

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  6. I’m of the butt-in-seat persuasion. Plus I remind myself, “You won’t get this day back. If you waste it, it’s gone.”

    Makes me sound awfully Puritanical.

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  7. Pingback: Blog Revisit: Time Is of the Essence | Legends of Windemere

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