Thursday, September 1, 2011

Goodbye, Summer

It's Back-to-School month, and again I'm gearing up for another semester. I'm reviewing my text, typing up my syllabus, and looking over my class lists. My job as an adjunct professor allows me to have more time to write in the summer (especially since my kids are grown), and it's been a very productive summer for me. I got one manuscript published and another one is almost ready to submit!

But now that I'll be preparing lectures and grading papers, how am I going to keep the momentum going? I'm getting a little worried, especially because I started another project that I hope to finish by the end of October. And the novel I started six years ago is almost ready to start editing. So what am I going to do?

I guess the first thing is to prioritize. I've attended workshops on time management. I know what I have to do. I just have to do them! I really don't need to check facebook every hour to find out what everyone else is doing. I don't need to play word games on my phone. And I REALLY don't need another snack.

So now I'm going to have less "free" time. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that having more to do doesn't mean I'm less able to do the things I really want to do. Sometimes I can multi-task. For example, when I'm walking with my friend, I can get her input on plotting problems, or character development. She actually helped me come up with a title! And sometimes, having less time actually makes me work faster! If I know I've only got a half hour to write, I'll churn out a scene or a chunk of dialogue. I might not use it, but it helps me get to know the character.

How do you fit writing in with your busy schedules? I know some people record their ideas in notebooks, on their smart phones, or on sticky notes. Some people get up before dawn to write while their families are still asleep (I prefer to stay up late). Some people spend chunks of time plotting and planning so that the writing is just a matter of "putting it all together" like a research paper.

Whatever your method, I think the key is to make it a habit. Something that you HAVE to do rather than WANT to do. My way of doing this is by writing every day at 750words.com where I can keep track of how many days in a row I've written (it's amazing how motivated I am by these little badges given out for different milestones) as well as how fast, and how often I'm distracted. Once in a great while I forget to go to the website and write. And then I have to start all over. Bummer. So I start again, determined to break my record of 150 days in a row!

I guess this is my September resolution (who needs to wait until January?): I WILL CONTINUE TO WRITE, no matter how busy I get. I'll be back next month to tell you how it goes.

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