Time management – revisited

when the clock strike midnight

Paula’s Post #51 – Now that I’ve cleared the ‘fifty posts’ hurdle for our 5writers blog, my thoughts today are turning in a different direction: time management.

Those of you who faithfully follow this blog may have discerned that, at least as far as this ‘5writers’ life’ is concerned, the subject of time management is – pardon the pun – a ‘timely topic’.

I’ve written about ‘time’ before.

On November 5th, 2012, two months into our epic 5month novel-writing challenge, I noted:

I have a Mac. I’m sure it is more or less the same on a PC, but on my Mac, I have a little calendar icon affixed to the ‘dock’ that runs across the bottom of my laptop screen. Tonight, the number I see on that little calendar icon is a ’5′. Look closely you can see the ’5′ too.

As in November 5th.

As in ‘Yikes’!

Two months down, three months to go. Like the tick of a metronome  I feel the minutes, the hours, the days slipping past. Where have all those precious days gone? How have they slipped away? How can it be November 5th already? Somewhere in the background I imagine I can hear a riff of melodramatic organ music, a distant memory from some 1970′s mid-day soap opera where a rich, deep voiceover intones: ‘Like sands through the hourglass, so are The Days of our Lives.

Yikes! I have a Mac I’m sure it is more or less the same on a PC, but on my Mac, I have a little calendar icon affixed to the ‘dock’ that runs across the bottom of my laptop screen. This morning, the number I see on that little calendar icon is a ’5′. Look closely you can see the ‘5’ too.

As in November 5th.

As in ‘Yikes’!

In Juggling all the Jingle Balls, my Christmas Day post from last December, I admitted to being Kermit the Frog green with envy whilst comparing Joe’s spectacular output  (a completed first draft in under four months) with my measly, 130 pages-to-date. But again, that post was also written during our epic, 5month novel-writing challenge.

Post-Christmas, I hunkered down and wrote. I managed to complete the first draft of my YA manuscript before our self-inflicted February 5th, 2013 deadline.

The ticking clock worked for me.

But today’s post isn’t about ‘time management’ while the clock is ticking. Today’s post is about time management when the clock is not tick… tick… ticking… away.

We 5writers are now at very different stages in our writing.

Joe, as you will have gleaned from his flurry of posts from the Surrey International Writer’s Conference, is actively pitching his 5writers manuscript to agents.

Karalee is caught up in rewrites and Silk and Helga are pondering and polishing twisted plot lines, while enriching and embellishing the characters they’ve crafted for their manuscripts.


I’m in limbo.

I’m waiting for the next train to leave the station.

Part of me feels this immense burden to haul out and dust off an old manuscript and chip away at it – not necessarily my writers YA manuscript. (Sadly, I’m not sure I really love that one enough to embark on rewrites. Not now). But I do feel one or two of my past efforts deserves new life.

But note the word I used to describe that contemplated project:



Part of me says ‘forget those old dusty manuscripts – focus on the new project’. New projects are shiny and bright and exciting.

We 5writers have decided that our next project will be a fully fleshed out ‘outline’. An outline for a yet-to-be-written-novel that our 5writer colleagues will ultimately critique in ruthless 5writers’ style, all in an effort to help with plot and structure in advance of our next novel-writing flurry.

I’m excited about that one. New projects are shiny and bright and exciting.

But I can’t jump the gun. We’re not at the starting gate for that one, not yet. And that leaves me back in limbo. Trying to figure out ‘time management’ when all I’ve got to work on is some old ‘dusty manuscripts’, or at least the modern, electronic file cabinet version.

So, my question today, for all you writers out there, how do you get motivated when your enthusiasm level is running on empty?

Do you do writing exercises?

Draft character sketches?

Read some of the better books on writing?

A writer's toolbox.No shortage of advice

A writer’s toolbox.No shortage of advice

Or just read good fiction for inspiration?

Inquiring minds want to know.

I’ve got a million things to do right now. We’ve just completed our semi-annual north-to-south migration from British Columbia to the California Desert. I’m caught up in opening up our winter residence, provisioning the larder, getting ready for house-guests.

I’ve also just obtained my real estate license here in the desert. I have a new office, new colleagues, new technology to master, a new website to get up, clients to contact – I need listings! I want to work with enthusiastic buyers and share the active California lifestyle.

But have you ever tried to build your own website? Building a website eats time like Paul Bunyan eats hotcakes!

So, let’s face it. I think I need a little advice on time management.

Help me out here. How do you keep fully engaged in the writing life when the clock is not counting down to a deadline?

One suggestion I’ve had is to create some structure and carve out little niches in every day:

– 3 hours for writing

– 4 hours for work

– 1 hour for exercise

– 1 hour for errands and chores

… you get the idea.

But life isn’t like that. Not for me. A phone call intervenes. A client wants to see a new listing. My husband yells ‘Paula’ and his in-house technology consultant rushes to rescue him from the latest printer-jam fiasco.

In other words, life happens.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m pleased that I woke up early this morning. I’m pleased that I got this post done before 8:00 am. Gee, maybe that means  I can now work on my new website for a couple gazillion more hours…

But face it. I know I still need help with ‘time management’. I can’t just keep working to deadline, jumping from one crisis to the next. At some point, I need to develop techniques for working on projects where the clock isn’t ticking.

If you have some ideas that can help me with ‘time management’, I’d really appreciate hearing from you.

Oh, and if you happen to know a good web designer…

4 thoughts on “Time management – revisited

  1. Why do I have the feeling I saw this writers’ tool box before?? Ah yes, it was during the writing of ‘Taste of the Past’. Only Angus and Tuva didn’t make it in the pic. Great post, but I’m afraid I can’t help you with time management. Looking for some such myself.

  2. Er, when you find the key to time management, could you please share? 😉 This is something I need help with, too, I’m afraid. I try to set schedules, but as you say, life finds a way to intervene. So this month, I’m trying to set modest goals, especially with the rebuild of one of my WIPs, to see if I can work up to some good habits. We’ll see….

  3. It is so very hard, isn’t it! That was why, perversely, the 5months challenge was really great for me. I’m too much of an adrenalin junkie to get up every day and write serenely – I wan’t to fling colour and paint around like Jackson Pollock!

  4. I’m the absolute LAST person to give advice on time management! There’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all solution, and I haven’t even found the answer for me, let alone anyone else (especially a Tigger). Only thing I can say is that the more choices I have, the harder it seems to be to pick one and put the others aside (at least for a while), and on the (too frequent) occasions when I ‘ve tried to ‘have it all’ I’ve sometimes wound up achieving nothing very satisfying. Maybe the trick is to just grab the moments when you’re hot to write and … Just write!

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