Planning to Write

Following up on goal #4 in my Janus post, I need to figure out a way to do more writing, by which I mean writing of fiction.

What things are stopping me from writing fiction?

  • blogging – I like doing this, but it occupies a lot of writing time.
  • roleplaying – specifically running roleplaying games. Again, this is something I enjoy but it soaks up huge amounts of writing time both in the prep and in writing up session notes.
  • social media – this is not as bad as it has been: curiously enough, adding Twitter to the mix has actually reduced my overall usage. Still, it does sometimes end up using time I should be employing for writing.
  • day job – I like my job and this is how I pay the bills, but the day job occupies the majority of my most creative time.

So what can I do? These are some ideas I could try.

  • blog differently – this blog has value (to me at least), but I may need to refocus it.
    • post less frequently – rejig the schedule to twice a week perhaps? Even once a week? A reduced schedule would probably be in addition to goals posts, rather than incorporating the goals posts into the normal schedule.
    • post more frequently – but with a hard word limit. Split larger ideas across many short posts.
    • change the content – I’ve been writing advice, goals and book notes, avoiding actual story. Maybe include some short fiction in the mix?
  • role-play differently
    • stop running games – I don’t like this option, although I’ve mentioned it before. Having said that, the other primary GM and I are basically tag-teaming on a 6-8 week turnaround which makes for a more manageable schedule. I hope this more episodic style of play is sustainable.
    • stop writing session notes – I delegated writing session notes for the last Dawn session on 01-Nov-2013 – I could hand out some kind of ephemeral but meaningful reward for the note takers.
  • social media
    • write first – get the work done before checking social media at all. This is a tough one to enforce just because I use the same computer for everything. Consider working in a notebook first thing?
    • focus on task – sometimes I am in the stream to do a particular thing. Make a note of the task, do it, and get out.
    • use as a reward – social media time is what I get when something else is done (although see the hierarchy of rewards below).
    • time-box it – related to focus on task, but sometimes I just need a break. Keep the break constrained in its length. Use a timer.
  • day job – when I am in the office, work always wins, but I might be able to engineer things differently.
    • use writing as break time.
    • swap creative time – do some writing during the day in exchange for some work time in the evening or morning.
    • go somewhere else to write – particularly relevant at lunchtime because if I write at my desk then I am effectively available.

That’s changing what I do, but I might also try to manage my time differently.

  • hierarchy of rewards – something that Howard Tayler mentioned on a recent Writing Excuses (Q&A w Mercedes Lackey) was a hierarchy of rewards: do the things you want to work on as a reward for getting the stuff you don’t especially want to do done.
    • example hierarchy
      • do work first – it pays the bills
      • do essential chores next – they’re essential for a reason
      • write
      • other fun time
    • two problems with this:
      • the definition of “essential chores” – maybe I just have low standards, but there always seem to be more chores to do than time available. Sometimes the principle of doing the long term work first is better.
      • not having that much control over my time – I have a good deal of flexibility at work, but I still need to be in the office which makes work win to a distressing degree.
  • time striping – something which worked well in the week running up to NaNo was the assignment of particular tasks to particular times of day. Try to apply this more¬†generally.
  • read a book – this week’s Writing Excuses features Mette Ivie Harrison and her book 21 Reasons You Don’t Think You Have Time To Write. More ideas in there, for sure.

So, those are my thoughts. How do you stay focussed on your writing when there are so many other demands on your time?

2 Replies to “Planning to Write”

  1. Roberta Hegland says:

    I know of at least one publisher (Daily Science Fiction) and have heard of others who will not accept previously published work – and they consider stories on your website/blog/etc to be a form of publishing. Something to consider…

  2. I write on breaks at work all the time. Subway rides, too.

    I understand the “Get the essential chores done first” idea, but there are times when I’m too tired to write, but I’m still awake enough to do the dishes. So, in those cases, writing first works better.

    Also, I only have Facebook on my tablet. My laptop doesn’t have it, so when I’m there it’s easier to stay focused on writing.

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