Happy Black Friday! Casey here.
Everyone knows there are only 24 hours in a day. And we all pretty much wish we had more time to get everything done.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t change the laws of physics. So unless you want to move to Venus (where a single day lasts 243 earth days not to mention it’s totally inhospitable), you have to use the limited time you have wisely.
Just like dieting, where everything you put in your mouth can land on your hips, every moment you spend playing on-line internet games, is one more moment where you aren’t writing.
Identifying Time Bandits can be tricky because it’s not alway immediately obvious that you are about to robbed of your precious writing time.
Here’s a real life example. This happens to me frequently on the weekends. It starts with an innocent question from my hubby – “Honey, what are we doing for lunch today?”
I look up from my laptop, where I am clearly at work, yet it is not perceived as work by anyone but me, and say, “I don’t know. Can’t you make a sandwhich?”
This response is met with a derisive snort. “How about _____ (insert, Chinese, Pizza, hamburgers, whatever)?”
Soon, the sons have emerged from their mini-man caves and start to chime in. Next thing, I know, I’m in the car on the way somewhere to eat. I have just lost, if I’m lucky, an hour of writing time.
Hold on. I know what you’re going to say – “just say NO.” And sometimes, I do. But, I also want to eat (hey, I’m human!) and I do like spending time with my sons (before they completely grow up and move away).
Clearly, for me, this is an area where I can combat the Time Bandit. In order to make up for lost time, I have to give up watching television (love that DVR) or not read before bed that day.
So how do you know if you are about to be hi-jacked by a Time Bandit? Please note, I am not adovocating that you must ignore all responsibilities or become a hermit.
1. Mundane chores are appealing. If you find yourself thinking that cleaning the tub (and you normally loathe it) then you have a Time Bandit. If you have teenagers, make them do it (bribes work better than threats) or learn to live with some dirt.
2. Social Media – I know this is obvious. But we’ve all experienced “the promise” where you swear to only spend a half hour and the next thing you know two hours have elapsed. Get a timer. Or in my case, I had to go nearly cold turkey to get back on track.
3. The Boob Tube – yes, I love it too. I have plenty of shows that will gladly rob me of my “precious” (writing, for anyone who doesn’t know who Gollum is). In the last two years, I have gone on a severe television diet. I avoid most shows that may tempt me and only allow a few favorites to DVR (any Haven fans out there?). I’m sorry to say, if you have hours and hours of DVR’d programs or are spending hours watching TV, then you have a Time Bandit.
4. Your family – see my example above. We all love our families BUT in order to be successful as a writer, you have to actually write. Sometimes, your significiant others don’t realize they are Time Bandits. You need to politely call them on it. Of course, there has to be compromise. Perhaps you can agree to have a nice dinner together instead of going out for lunch.
5. You – Yes, you are your own worst enemy. If you peel the mask off the Time Bandit, you might see your own face there (kind of like in Empire Strikes Back, when Luke sees his own face in Darth Vader’s mask). One thing I’ve learned is that if you are waiting around for the Muse to strike you, you’ll be waiting a long time. Treat writing like a job and write something, anything, until you get your brain in the place it needs to be to work on your latest WIP.
If you can write an entire book, then you can come up with creative ways to conquer those Time Bandits.
How about everyone else? Remember, the first step to solving a problem is to admit you have one. Please share your Time Bandits or your suggestions for managing your writing time.