First, a very happy birthday to fellow Word Whore, Carolyn Crane! YAY!
Then, Time Management Heresy:
Pst. Yeah, you. Come closer. Got a story and a bit of heresy for you.
First, the heresy.Time management – don’t bother. It’s meaningless.
Second, the story.
There’s a thirteen year old girl. She wants to be a star. She’s got a crush on Justin Beiber. Cut her a break. She’s thirteen. She’s got a girl crush on Selena Gomez. Every time I see her, there’s angst about what can she do to get a video up on YouTube of her singing? How can she be discovered? How can she become a star?
Here’s the thing. She doesn’t practice unless she’s forced to do so and then she puts in the minimum. Piano, voice. It’s all the same. Yet she swears she loves music. Those of us who love her long ago realized she may love music, but only as audience, not as performer. She wants all the benefits with none of the work.Writing is often the same way. Either you love writing enough that you write because you fucking love it, or you don’t write because what you love is *having* written. If storytelling is truly what lights you up, you’ll do it if only because it makes you happy and feeds something inside. It may be in the cracks of your day – jotting a few lines while in a waiting room, or while sitting on the ferry or the bus. You may dedicate two hours per day with no interruptions to your word count. Whichever it is, you do it because the writing is the icing holding the cake of your day together. Sure. Some days the cake is one of those lopsided, leaden flavors no one likes. The point is that writing is a means unto itself – or it should be – and that means is making you happy whether the words you got are brilliant or suck all the air out of a room.
If you’re like the thirteen year old in the story above? No amount of time management is going to matter. No amount of other people telling you, ‘practice!’, ‘I’ll take you to auditions, do you have a piece ready?’ will make any difference. You aren’t doing the work because you don’t want to do the work. It isn’t important enough to you. THAT’S OKAY! The world needs audiences.The important thing is to consciously realize the disconnect between what you SAY you want and what you prioritize in your day to day life. Saying you want to write, but then not doing so indicates that your subconscious priorities do not match up with your conscious ones. You can overcome that. It takes work, but you can. I had to. There came a point wherein I realized I was acting just like the thirteen year old – saying one thing and doing another.
The first step is noticing that you say you want to write but you aren’t. Go ahead. Tell me why you aren’t. Give me all the reasons, all the excuses. But pay attention. Usually there’s an underlying theme to the excuses. Mine was family. I don’t know if it’s a southern thing or just the dynamic of my family, but family trumps everything. They come first. All of my non-writing excuses revolved around that fact.Figure out what’s underneath your never writing excuses. Then address it. I made a deal with myself. Family comes first, but I’m part of the family, too and for part of each day, I get to come first briefly. My family will be happier if I’m happier. This doesn’t mean closing them out or ignoring their needs. But it does mean requiring that my family respect my needs, too. And one of those needs is word count.
Once you’ve figured out the why and come up with a compromise that makes sense to you, and assuming that you haven’t discovered that writing really isn’t anywhere on your priority list after all, it’s time to set up a routine – something that will become a habit. Doesn’t matter how. Doesn’t matter where. It only has to work for you and work repeatedly. Mess it up one day? So what? Go back to it the next day and the next. Write. Love it enough. Love yourself enough to bring what you say and what you do into alignment. Then time management takes care of itself. Even if it means you have to set an alarm so you know when to quite writing and start doing the dishes.