Never Enough Time

"Whirlpool" by Shutinc - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

“Whirlpool” by Shutinc – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

l’m intrigued with Jane Friedman’s recent post about her work ethic, using the concept of privilege to explain her productivity. It made me question my own time management skills.

Balancing my personal life and my creative endeavors is a challenge for me, a losing battle much of the time. Often, I make it worse by focusing on what I’ve left undone instead of what I have accomplished. That’s when the rant in my head begins, the name calling on a continuous loop—an endless list of words that help me tear myself down when I haven’t done enough, giving my inner critic the power to make me believe I’m not good enough and never will be.

Many writer friends and I discuss this downward spiral that appears when things get in the way of our work, a bottomless pit that sucks us in and sabotages our work. We talk about ways to shift this destructive pattern. Is the answer trying to get more done? Or is it as simple as a change in our perspective?

How can I better manage my time for working on creative projects with my family responsibilities and social commitments? I have an enthusiasm that just won’t quit for any social project or event that comes my way. It has been a lifelong struggle for me to focus—to discern—to just say “NO!” to these activities that would sidetrack me away from my writing. As with Jane, I have tried any number of tricks and techniques using time management and organizational skills to stay on track. I’m still working on it. And life keeps getting in the way.

If I focus on my inability to get things done, it affects not only my mood, but also my productivity. What might happen if, instead, I focus on my successes? The glass half full argument. As a writer, I can view my own time, money, talent, creativity, clarity, passion and fortitude as scarce or abundant. Sometimes reality and perception is far apart.

The dictionary offers numerous words to argue for the negative point of view. On a bad day I can feel needy, deficient, poor, lacking, wanting, impoverished, indigent, destitute, a pauper. When resources are limited, they are meager, inadequate, insufficient, negligible, scant, exiguous, piddling, measly and paltry. I can see myself as defective, faulty, flawed, inferior, second-rate. It’s appalling. So many words to degrade myself.

In contrast, I can relish in my abundant, plentiful, profuse, copious, ample, rich, lavish, abounding, generous, bountiful, overflowing, prolific, teeming, plenteous, resources galore!

The point is, how I label myself can encourage and support my creative process or discourage my writing. If I become dishearten, I will scare off any hope of success. It really is up to me. My choice is to work daily to change my inner recordings, to let go of the former list in order to instill the latter.

So forgive the exuberance of my own verbosity—words my fourth grade teacher wrote out for me to read the next time my father used a fifty-cent word at the dinner table. He often bated me with an uncommon phrase and my curiosity pushed me to ask its meaning. Instead of simply answering the question, Dad would order me to leave the dinner table to fetch a dictionary (this was back in 1960), read the definition and use the word in a complete sentence. This happened on a regular basis.

Luckily, in spite of Dad’s pranks and my brothers’ teasing, I developed a passion for words. Even though Dad was tough on me, his innate ability to weave a new tale at every family gathering inspired me to write, and still does even though he died before I committed to writing as my life’s work. Memories of my family affects me in ways I didn’t understand until I began to write about them. So, thanks Dad for all the words. I’ll try to put them to good use.

As for finding time to write, I’m learning to be easy on myself when events like Christmas keep me from finding the quiet time I need to be productive. But I’m always working on my stories in my head and scouting out any opportunity to wrangle a few words into a meaningful piece, whether it be a poem, short story, new scene for one of my books, or a blog like this one.

If you’ve made it to the end of this somewhat long rant, maybe you will share a comment on how you manage your time in order to accomplish the things that are important to you.

 

Margaret Atwood has us rolling in the aisles again!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6iMBf6Ddjk&imm_mid=085a5b&cmp=em-toc-newsletter-may4-elist

I found this link through an email blog I follow from O’Reilly Publishing.  http://oreilly.com/

Margaret had us rolling in the aisles when I saw her live at AWP Conference in Chicago.  I was thrilled to discover this U-tube so I could share the delight I experienced seeing her in person.  Here, she’s speaking of the changes that have occurred over time between the author and publishing entities.  And, she illustrates with her own original “marker” drawings.  You’ve got to see this if you follow the changes that are currently taking place in the Book World.  We all need a good laugh now and then.

The video is timely for me because I am researching the Self-Pub process and what it would take if I were to chose that route.  It seems that in today’s market, writer’s need to develop their audience if they want any leverage in negotiating with the Big Six.  If we’re going to do all the editing, proofing and marketing on our first book, then we might as well get the income that would come from it.  As Margaret Atwood says, we need to buy a few “cheese sandwiches” to sustain us through the marathon process of publishing.  I’ll need a little extra because tofu cheese costs more (I’m lactose intolerant).

Here’s a link to her publisher’s page at Curtis Brown

My next research step on the road to E-Pub is Jane Friedman’s class on-line this Thursday.  I’ll report back on all the new insights I’m sure I will get.

Let me know through comments if any of you are also on the road to self-publishing.  Maybe we can pool our resources and make a few less mistakes.

Internet Overwhelm

Broken by Takahiro Kimura

I’ve been struggling with technology…for weeks.  Right now I’m in major overwhelm.  I get up in the morning, boggled with where to start, and then I read a timely blog from JANE FRIEDMAN asking why.   http://janefriedman.com/  Why are people of my generation so overwhelmed?  So here goes.

I’m 62, more techie than some my age, but still lacking in skills I need daily.  The problem is, I prefer to spend most of my time being creative (writing and art) rather than “learning the tools” to facilitate that creativity.

It’s also true with communications.  I love a good conversation.  However, having one on line can be difficult.  So many new skills and knowledge sets are required.  Unlike tools of my craft, technology keeps changing, getting more diverse, and more complicated (like viruses that are even attacking Mac’s.  OMG!).

I’ve had a blog for over a year, but after spending the weeks to design it and execute my design, I was worn out.  Regular Posts is a hurdle I’ve yet to conquer.  I returned to writing to take a break–which  adversely affects my newly acquired tech skills because when I don’t use the programs regularly, I forget how to.

To make it worse, when I do take the time away from writing to add to my knowledge base of Word Press, Facebook or Twitter, I find the “How To” manuals, blog instructions and videos incomplete, inadequate, or too complicated to understand.  In other words, it’s not well written.

I can stub my toe on a little thing, something I can’t figure out about a particular program or app, and it diverts me for hours and sometimes days, trying to find an answer–often to no avail.

The other problem is that there is just too much of everything on the internet–especially opinions.  I went to a Mac support group last night to get some help with GTD apps (I had to look it up to see that “getting things done” was exactly the help I needed) such as Evernote.

Everyone seemed to be eager to help, but in the end, I was just more confused.  They each had different recommendations, which leaves me with a “new” long list of apps to research to see if it will work for my needs.  I thought I had done that, but many of them pointed out problems and bad experiences with what I thought was a good choice.

After putting in hours researching and trying to learn the app with little to no success,  I’m back to square one.  To make it worse, I now mistrust my own judgement on “anything techie.”  And, messing with all this technology, I’m not writing.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love technology.

I wrote most of my book on the Ipad, using the Cloud to transfer it to my computer (and back and forth many times) for editing.  When it comes to research, Google is the best present I ever got!  Answers to all my silly questions with the touch of a few keys.  But can we trust the answers we get to the important questions?  I think we first must test it out for ourselves.  Again, everything takes time.  And that is the most precious commodity.

 

Despite the best intentions, technology created to make our lives simpler is at the same time making it more complicated. Dealing with the immense amount of new information poured into our daily lives is backing us against the wall.  How do we cope?

There is no simple answer–except maybe patience–giving it more time.  Not giving up.  And asking for help.

So, Jane, in response to your question, I give you one back.  Can you suggest an effective note-taking app for writers?

Also, is there an online community of tech help for writers (one where occasional answers can be answered for free?  And classes specifically for writer’s needs when we’re ready for more?

I know there are a million out there.  You’re the guru of giving writers information in bite (byte?) size bits so we can absorb it and integrate it into our lives.  If anyone can answer my question, you can.