Friday, November 8, 2013

Guarding Your Writing Time - by Scott Eder

by Scott Eder
copyright 2013

Time is precious. We often talk in terms of it being a commodity, one of which we never have enough, like money or chocolate. But time is a constant, regardless of our perception. It no more speeds up when we're bowling or playing a video game, than when we're getting a molar drilled by the fiendish dentist. Each and every day, we have the same finite amount of time to write.

When in full-on writing mode, typing as fast as you can to stay afloat in the riptide current of the story, how quickly do you write? 500, 1000, 2000 words an hour? And in those non-zen moments, when the creative flow seeps around you like the incoming tide, how productive are you? Regardless of the speed at which we write, we still make forward progress during those less productive times. By the time a session is over, we are that much closer to the end of the story. Huzzah!    

I'm sure you already knew all that. It's common sense, right? So why do we, as writers, waste so much time not writing? I understand the need to power down, to give my muse a break so she can grab a smoke and an Oreo. Really, I do. It's healthy, and sometimes very much needed. It's when that break extends beyond the bounds of creative decency, when it encroaches upon the precious writing time that it becomes a problem.   

Some full-time writers get into a routine, writing during the same time period(s) each day, training their bodies and minds to be productive on schedule. They may not always feel like writing at that time, but by gosh words will be written. Other writers prefer to write when the mood strikes. Both approaches can work depending on the writer's discipline.  

What about the part-time writers? The ones who work a nine-to-five, or eight-to-whatever, and have to carve a small window out of their daily routine to commit creativity? Distractions during their short writing time can kill an entire day's work.

Whether we are full or part-time writers, the mystical laws of time management still apply. If we set aside a specific writing window, we need to guard it like a dragon atop his golden hoard. Eat any distractions that pop up. Metaphorically, of course. We're not cannibals and I don't espouse the eating of one's children as a suitable form of punishment for any infraction. Besides, most of the distractions are localized to the computer right in front of us.           

Distractions abound! Furry cyber squirrels with flashy nuts and a siren's song of cute little bings and bongs draw the senses. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Youtube, the list goes on. They all try to draw us in to their respective online worlds, turning us away from our primary task. Insidious little catch phrases draw the unwary closer to the screen. "Like me." "Play with us." "Update your status." "Look at the pretty pictures." Before we know it, we're peeling our eyes from the screen and squinting at the clock wondering what happened to the last hour. I can't count how many times I've seen writers post something in their Facebook status about forcing themselves to disconnect. Some go as far as to ask their friends to yell at them if they are spotted online. It's addictive. Man, is it addictive.    
Be strong. Resist the temptation. Disconnect from the Internet if that will help. Then write. Splatter that time window with a deluge of wondrous words. When it's over, play. Update status, 'Like' like mad, complete thirty levels in Candy Crush, whatever, and do so with a hard-earned sense of accomplishment.

Distractions come in all shapes and sizes. Some are easier to defeat than others. Cell phones are like air to some of us. Without them, we no longer know how to communicate. We can't tell time. We can't perform basic mathematical functions. We can't check the movie times or the sports scores. We can't EXIST.                                   

Whatever. The simple solution is to turn it off. The world won't end. Then write. When the assignment is done, and we've proven ourselves good little writers, we can have it back. We need to give ourselves the best chance of having uninterrupted time to concentrate.

Cells and computers don't give us crap if we shut the door and turn them off, but our families do. And rightly so. They are our support structure. Believe it or not, they want to see us, play with us, talk to us. And that's awesome. BUT, it's also distracting, and eats away at our writing time quicker than acid. While it's not always easy, especially when little Johnny wants to hear a story, or a spouse wants a little sexy time (especially when a spouse wants a little sexy time), to find that writing opportunity; however, it's critical if we want to achieve our goals. Find a time that works, whether it's after the kids go to bed, before work, or during lunch hour, find a time to focus.

Dealing with online and mechanical distractions is easy when compared to those brought in from the family. These are the tough ones with no simple solution. When in doubt, I err on the side of family. Life is all about them. It will take patience, and practice, to find what works, but with a supportive spouse, anything is possible. Strike a balance. Find the right time, and go for it. An unfinished work will not sell. I have to cringe a little when I say that. In my world, family trumps all.  

There are only so many hours in a day. Once we carve out which ones will be spent writing, we have to protect them like a momma bear her cubs. Don't let anything get in the way. Beers with the guys? No thanks. Lunch with high school friends? Sorry, I'm working. A Dr. Who marathon on Netflix? Hmmm…well…wait, it's on Netflix? I can watch when I'm done.

Don't waste time. Write.  

Since he was a kid, Scott Eder wanted to be an author. Through the years, fantastic tales of nobility and strife, honor and chaos dominated his thoughts. After twenty years mired in the corporate machine, he broke free to bring those stories to life.

Scott lives with his wife and two children on the west coast of Florida.
Knight of Flame Blurb
Fire. The most chaotic of the primal elements. When wielded properly by the Knight of Flame, it burns like the sun. Otherwise, it slowly consumes the Knight, burning away his control, driving him towards dark deeds.

Stationed in Tampa, FL, Develore Quinteele, sixth Knight of Flame, waits impatiently for the predicted emergence of the last Gray Lord, his Order's ancient enemy. Hampered by a centuries-old tragedy, Dev knows of only one way to control his elemental power—rage. It broils just below his surface, waiting for the slightest provocation to set it alight.

After a brutal attack by the Gray Lord's minions for which Dev is blamed, he's stripped of his freedom until he learns to control his violent impulses. With the help of his fellow Knights, can he balance his rage and unlock his true elemental potential to prevent Tampa's devastation?
Contact Info
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Twitter - @scotteder


Unknown said...

I so need to follow Scott's recommendations. Right now.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Scott, thanks so much for being here again today. We love your articles! And Dora is right - I must focus and get to my WIP! Enjoy the weekend, all!

Scott Eder said...

Yeah. Get to it. Not time to read posts about not wasting time. Thanks for posting, MB4.

Mike Kavis said...

Guess I won't ask you to grab some beers this weekend. maybe after the book is done ;-)