In my attempt to get back into the ‘swing of things’ and find my motivation for writing again, I came across an interesting little ebook on Holly Lisle’s website. I’ve been considering the 12-month version of her ‘Writer’s Class’ for about a week or so, but in lieu of that for the moment, I wondered if this little ebook could be of any use to me. It’s called How to Find Your Writing Discipline: A Three-Day Plus 20 Minute Do-It-Yourself Writing Bootcamp, and it’s geared toward writers who can’t find the time, initiative, or discipline to write (or get back into writing).
I purchased and downloaded it on Wednesday night, and completed the ’20 minute’ section almost immediately. It was good – not particularly thrilling, but good – and gave me a moment to reflect on my motivations and reasons for wanting to write. I came up with 15 short sentences for the ‘Find Your Triggers’ portion of the 20 minute exercise, and I think I’m going to post these somewhere that I can see them everyday: they state why I want to write and what writing will allow me to do. They’re big, somewhat elusive, long-term goals, per se.
After this was completed, I read through the section for ‘Day One’. The idea here is that I am supposed to spend a day finding out what’s taking up so much time in my life, so that (I assume) I can eliminate the problem areas or convert them into useful task times. Sound useful? I thought so… I was intrigued and decided to go ahead with it. Instead of giving you a long narrative on my experience, I’ll break it down into daily chunks, and we’ll go from there.
Thursday, April 30th: Day One
- Morning: Slept in by accident… of course. Woke up and wrote the time down on the notepad I’d placed next to my bed the night before (as recommended in the book). Carried the book around with me as I did random tasks, trying to maintain as normal a routine as possible. However, this is a bit difficult when you’re self-employed and don’t really have a ‘regular routine’ to begin with. I also discovered that I hadn’t reset any of the clocks in the kitchen after a brief power outage during last Saturday’s storm. Oops.
- Afternoon: Still doing well, staying on target with writing everything down… even the 6 minute break I took to eat some licorice and dance around in the living room…
- Evening: Well, it was date night, so as soon as I was out the door, I figured there was no point in writing everything down. Dinner, movie, coffee… and home again. In retrospect, I probably should have started back up again once I came back through the door, but my brain said “no, no, it’s still date night”, even as I cleaned out the cat’s litter box. Hmm.
Friday, May 1st: Day Two
Up and drinking my free McDonald’s coffee… *ahhh*… so, what’s my task for today? List everything I did yesterday and how much time I spent on each item… and then figure out which tasks are necessary vs. personally fulfilling vs. things I can delegate out vs. unnecessary. Okay, done.
I should mention here that I really appreciate how Holly doesn’t beat you over the head for wasting time on things… instead, she says “that’s free time you can use”. It’s a matter of changing the way you think and use your time, not to mention the fact that you can be thinking about writing (or “prewriting”, as she calls it) during some of those necessary tasks like laundry or dishes. Makes sense to me… but training yourself to do it is more difficult than saying you will. Changing my thinking to reflect this kind of pattern will definitely take time.
But what did I learn about my use of time?
- I don’t work as much as I should (but I already knew that)
- I don’t really have a routine… maybe just a few tasks that happen around the same time each day
- My day changes drastically according to what needs to be done, because I’m self-employed
- I am so incredibly privileged to be able to stay home and work, and yet I still haven’t figured out how to use my time to the best of my ability… it’s wasteful and very frustrating
- My house is a mess
Not exactly things I didn’t know already… but it was interesting to see exactly where the time went. It’s also easy to coast past this step and ‘fake it’ a bit, because you know that you’re writing everything down through the day, so you try to be more productive… but that won’t really help in the long run, since the whole point of the exercise is to figure out where the time goes on a normal day.
A chunk of my time went to checking my email, Facebook, and LibraryThing. I think what I need to do (besides shrinking the time spent on it) is be wiser with when I use these websites – for example, I tend to be extremely unproductive between 1pm-4pm. I’m like the waking dead, I’m useless. This is when I should be online; spend time with the pets; do housework (if I have the energy); run errands outside the house; take a nap or reading break. Often, I feel bad because this time is right after lunch and I feel like I’ve wasted the entire afternoon, but all things considered, if I’m just going to stare blankly at my computer screen anyway, it would be better to spend that time doing things that will fulfill me or doing household tasks that are necessary.
Again, I need to change the way I think about time to be able to accomplish this. Seems like I have my work cut out for me. The funny thing is, Dave & I were talking about this just a few days ago, and now here’s Holly with her ebook, telling me the exact same thing. It’s nice to be reaffirmed… it’s not so nice to realize how far you still have to go.
There is a Day Three in the ebook, but I won’t get around to it until Monday. I have a busy weekend ahead with family plans, so I’ll have to set this aside for a few days – but not my thinking! I should start training my brain over the weekend, getting into the “prewriting” habit.
We’ll see how that goes…
Come back next Wednesday to see how things went on Day 3!
Tags: ebook, Holly Lisle, motivation, writing, writing course