Saturday, December 3, 2011

Time Management and the Procrastinator

By Lisa Blackwood (Guest Blogger)

Do you waste time? Sure, we all do. How can we not with all those new time saving (::snorts::) gadgets always within reach, just waiting to snatch up our attention? We’re human, not machines; we’ll never be 100% efficient, but we can maximize what time we have for writing by exercising some self discipline.

Did I just write that load of bull? I’m the ultimate procrastinator. It took me ten years to write my first novel, and then a good 3-4 years to learn how to write. LOL. I’m a slow learner. MuseItUp Publishing contracted that novel. Since that time I’ve been a busy new writer. I certainly don’t have more time, not with a full time job and volunteering at a horse rescue every Sunday, but I have reformed my procrastinator ways to better manage what time I have.

Start small. Set realistic goals or you’re just going to get frustrated and give up. Within an hour of signing the contract I was already looking into blogs (I’d heard of those—didn’t know much about them though. By the way, I’m a 32-year-old cavewoman.) Next came the website. Once again, it was like the blind leading the blind (pardon the cliché). I didn’t know anything about website design—so went with a template. Now this was nothing like choosing a blog and switching some stuff around until it looked nice. Oh no. This arrived as an innocent looking zipped file which opened into hundreds of html files. I didn’t even know what I was looking at. I almost cried.

Then I got down to the business of learning a little bit about html source code. (I didn’t know it at the time, but this came in handy when I decided to self publish the first novel in my second series and had to learn how to create ebooks.)

Next came Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and an assortment of other forums, of which I still probably don’t spend as much time on as I should; however the day only has 24 hours.

Once the new author thing became less scary, I started to explore the idea of self publishing on Amazon and Smashwords. Really, there isn’t that much more work to do for self publishing than there is for small press authors. Both have to guest blog, as well as maintain Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads accounts. Basically, you must get your name out there regardless. With self-publishing there’s also the need to hire a cover artist and editor, and learn how to format ebooks.

How did procrastinator me manage this?

I started to keep track of my time, studying where I used my time and how much time I spending on certain sites and activities.

I set goals—I soon realised goals are my friend.

I studied my habits to find my biggest time wasters and tried to cut them down by a half. As I said earlier, were human and need to take breaks and escape the sometimes harsh routine of writing. We still have to enjoy writing.

Biggest time wasters

  • TV—I used to watch a lot of TV. Now there isn’t much to watch so it’s no longer a problem.
  • Reading (oh yes!)—as writes we need to read since it helps us better our own work. However, it is much easier to get lost in someone else’s book instead of working on our own. I try not to read other books while I’m drafting something new unless it’s for research. Once I’m finished a draft or have a large chunk of chapters done, I’ll go fire up my e-reader to save my sanity.
  • INTERNET (oh Twitter and Facebook—I’m talking to you) The internet is both my greatest tool and worst enemy. I’ve read in other places that writes should unplug while writing. However if you’re a writer you still need the internet. It’s good for research, promotion, blogging, communicating with editors and other authors. I now try to live by one simple rule—no random browsing allowed.
  • One other thing to remember is that while promotion is key to both indie and small press writers, all the promotion in the world isn’t going to help you if you don’t find time to write and build up a healthy back list of titles.
  • Learning to say no to friends and family when they want to do something during your writing time is perhaps one of the hardest things to learn. If you’re serious about writing, you need to treat it like a job. You wouldn’t leave your day job in the middle of the afternoon to go to the mall with your friends, would you?

Things that helped (me)

  • Outlines—I’m not saying you have to follow an outline like it’s an exact science. I just find them a good starting point.
  • Daily Word Count—don’t drive yourself crazy with this one.
  • Have more than one project on the go—this helps in case writer’s block strikes. I find my Muse works better if given free rein. I won’t force myself to work exclusively on one story when another is demanding to be told.
  • Organization—I’m not talking about your house, I’m talking about your computer files so you can easily find your newest blurb, bio, synopsis or whatever else someone has just asked you for. (This one took me a while to realise. You can spend a big chunk of time sifting through all you documents.) This applies to your email as well.
  • When you do have time, use it. Do you have a little time in the morning before work? Maybe you have a few minutes at lunch. Can you squeeze in a little more work before bed?

Bio: Lisa Blackwood grudgingly lives in a small town in Southern Ontario, though she would much rather live deep in a dark forest, surrounded by majestic old-growth trees. Since she cannot live her fantasy, she decided to write fantasy instead. An abundance of pets, named after various Viking gods, helps to keep the creativity flowing. Freya, her ever faithful and beloved hellhound, ensures Lisa takes a break from the computer so they can rid the garden of cats with delusions of conquest.

If you like a beauty and the beast type story with gargoyles, try my debut novel Stone’s Kiss.

***

As a child, a near-drowning accident stole Lillian’s old life. Her new life began the moment she awoke at the foot of a brooding, stone gargoyle.

Years later, Lillian still finds comfort in Gregory, her gargoyle, never guessing he is more than cold stone until demonic creatures called the Riven attack. Gregory senses her terror and wakes from his healing sleep.

After the battle, Lillian learns the humans she thought were her family are a powerful coven of witches at war with the Riven. Lillian is something more than human, a powerful worker of magic, an Avatar to the gods. Gregory has been her protector for many lifetimes, but troubles in their homeland forced him to flee with her to the human world. And it wasn’t an accident which stole her memories—it was Gregory. He suspects Lillian is host to an infant demon, one capable of evil greater than the Riven.

Despite everything, Lillian fears she’s falling in love with her guardian. While she might be able to defeat the Riven with Gregory’s help, she doesn’t know if her fragile new love can survive the evil growing in her own soul...

***

By the way, I'm giving a Smashword's gift certificate to one lucky commenter. So let me know about your strategies for fighting procrastination!

Find Stones Kiss on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Stones-Kiss-The-Avatars-ebook/dp/B006EAMITG

And Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/109540

Website: www.lisablackwood.com/

Blog: http://blackwoodsforest.wordpress.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Lisa_Blackwood/

14 comments:

Lisabet Sarai said...

Greetings, Lisa,

Welcome to Beyond Romance, and thanks for a great, practical post. I know I don't use my time nearly as effectively as I could - you've inspired me to put more thought into the question.

Jim Hartley said...

I was going to join the Procrastinator's Club, but I never got around to it!

gail roughton branan said...

Lisa, great post! I particularly agree with the comment about organization. My work files in my "day" job are organized like a file cabinet so that I can find anything quickly and don't spend time retyping things that are used frequently in that file. This is something I was surprised to find, when helping out others in the office, everyone doesn't do and I've spend half an hour looking for the right address before when helping out another attorney. It CERTAINLY applies to my writing career. I can lay my hands on anything -- my blog posts, my guest posts, promotion ideas from the loop, anything. Absolutely the biggest timesaver in the WORLD!

Marian L said...

I limit my time on time for internet research, emails and loops. I would rather read than watch tv so I have to be careful and limit my reading time. I have a to do list everyday whether for my writing or my daily life and this keeps me from procastinating. And I set writing goals. I try for 2,500 to 5,000 words a day but will accept 1,000 and consider it a successful day. marian

Tanja said...

Well, the do say that procrastination is the thief of time - but then so are all words that have five syllables and more... http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20100404/blogs/feeling-power-less.301079 is my take on procrastination.

Debby said...

I love to procrastinate. Not sure I have any good strategies. I just force myself to do what I need to do. Lists can sometimes help as well. But then I lose them.
debby236 at gmail dot com

UteH said...

My computer is more organized than my real documents.
I know, I really do, that filing something the moment you get it is easier and faster than doing it later, but that's what costs me most time later.

blackwoodsforest said...

I'm still a procastinator...I ::almost:: have to live by the checklist above and a timer. lol. Thanks for stopping by.

Colleen said...

I like to plan things out... write little lists to keep track of things... but I love to squeeze in every moment I can for reading... watching less TV, but reading more...

widdershins said...

All I watch on the TV these days is our local news. 1 hour per day and I'm done ... so where does the rest of the bloody time go? I'm thinking Time Daemons from the year 2116. That has to be it!

Kathryn Merkel said...

I'm not real good at managing procrastination, but if I set a goal for the day & work to get it done early, I can let my inner time waster free reign later in the day.

drainbamaged.gyzmo at gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I don't think I've learned yet how not to procrastinate. But when something needs to get done, I just dig in and get it done. lisagk(at)yahoo(dot)com

blackwoodsforest said...

I don't think I'll ever not be a procrastinator--but I'm learning how focuus a get alot gone in a shorter amount of time. Deadlines force me to stay on top of my work.
Procrastination: it's like a disease with no cure. LOL.

Lisabet Sarai said...

WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT

The winner of Lisa Blackwood's drawing is LisaGK.

Thanks to all of you for reading and sharing your thoughts!

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