Making the Most of My Time

If Chapter After Chapter (a book I’ve been reading) has a major flaw it is the author’s assumption that if writing a book is really important to you, it should consume your life, your thoughts, all your creative energy.

This is how you will be able to write a book.

She says that those who think you can fit writing a book around the edges of a full life either have never tried or are very good at compartmentalizing.

I don’t think I’m that great at compartmentalizing (in fact, I think this is what makes me an imaginative writer), but my whole life, it seems, I’ve always loved doing more than one thing.

As a result I’ve always been bouncing from one love to another, eager to visit the next thing but always expecting to return, and (this is the important part) preparing before I leave for that return.

My best example of this is of my quilting or beading. Each of my projects (I have several in each “genre”) is at a different stage, and if the mood struck me (ouch!) I could walk across the hall and pick any one of them up with nothing more than a flat clear surface.

Setting aside for the moment that flat surfaces rarely remain clear in my home, this is how I organize. I still don’t have a system for keeping my home clean (working on that) but I have a system to indulge the way I know my creativity works.

This is why getting my novel organized tonight was so exciting to me.

Because of this stretch of work, I can now sit down in those spare half-hours when all three kids are playing nicely (and I’m ignoring those un-clear flat surfaces) to do whichever type of writing I’m interested in at that moment.

And the neat thing is that this one project is big enough that (at least for now) I can conclude/revise/create from scratch some section, all without starting something new.

This was my habit with quilts. I have 4 or 5 at various stages of completion.

In my own defense I also have a good half-dozen I’ve finished.

I am far too sensible (or, at least, have too many loves) to allow writing this book to consume the majority of my time, but the book is important enough to me that I do keep writing, in the “edges” I can find.

So… is this compartmentalizing?

This entry was posted in Writing.

6 thoughts on “Making the Most of My Time

  1. I’m the same way, except I crochet afghans, not quilt. I have about 7-8 afghans in various stages all over the house waiting for me to pick them up. Also in my defense, I finish 2 -3 every year and then give them away as gifts.

    As for house organization, have you tried This really helps sometimes, though I’ll admit I come and go with the group. I’m in the midst of chaos right now.

    Ah, my writing. I love Randy Ingermanson’s snowflake method for organizing. I’ll admit that I have more than one WIP around like I have more than one unfinished afghan around. Right now I’m not entirely sure what I want to work with.

    Too many choices. Maybe there’s something to be said for forcusing on one project. Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

  2. I’ve worked with both the Snowflake and Flylady ;o) And found they don’t quite dovetail with the ways I work.

    What has been more successful (when I’m not in a state of flux– which I have been for… hmmm, 2+ years?) is a card-file system. I think it’s the physical manipulation/rearranging of stuff that works for me (it’s how I make menus too).

    And this headline-writing for focusing my stories– This has worked well, too.

  3. I feel your “pain”. I am a wonderful one to start something gung ho and not finish.

    However, you’re way ahead of me. You actually finish projects. That’s why it’s so important for me to finish this. Just so I can say it.

    Now, Kristine, she IS in chaos but much of that is circumstances beyond her control.

    I have done the headline writing (similar) and I like that. It’s quick and I can wrap my little mind around it.

    I am trying to learn to crochet. I’m a beginner and I tend to crochet very tight. And I didn’t realize that you have to count. I’m so lazy…

  4. I’ve cross stitched, quilted, gardened, and am in the middle of my first book of a series. Besides this I homeschool my 3 kids (and try to do some housework :). all this to say, that I too enjoy variety.

    The only thing I think is vital is to prioritize and let God lead.

  5. I think letting our writing become all consuming in our lives is a problem—I think the best writing comes from authors who find a way to continue to live as full a life as possible and still manage to fit in time to write. I don’t know about anyone else, but most of my best story ideas come to me when I’m in the midst of some other activity—working, shopping, at the movies, walking, drawing, doing dishes/laundry/housework, etc. I’m blessed in that I don’t have a lot of distractions at home (single, live alone), and yet many times it isn’t during the evenings when I sit down for my scheduled two hours of writing time that the best ideas come. It’s usually at that time when I’m pulling out the scraps of paper, receipts, envelopes, napkins, or whatever it is that I grabbed earlier in the day to jot down an idea. It’s during the time I allow myself to be immersed in writing that I flesh out those ideas, that I allow myself to explore them. And many times, they will become so consuming that I lose track of time or forget to stop for a meal.

    Sure, writing should be a passion—we should want to sit down and write, we should think about our characters and their situations throughout the day when we’re not writing. But to allow it to become all-consuming? I think that’s as dangerous as allowing anything else in our lives to do that to us. Writing, as with everything else, is best when it is a balanced part of our entire lives, not the only driving force in our lives.

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