Monday, September 7, 2009

Redeeming Your Time

We had a lovely family day at the beach yesterday. It was windy and slightly cool, which made a pleasant change from the searing heat of August. I came back feeling refreshed, ready to face the fact that summer is over and that it's time to get down to work.

My motto this semester is

"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil."
~ Ephesians 5:15-16

I certainly need to redeem my time. This morning, I have spent almost two hours already on Blogger and Facebook. These social networking sites have been invaluable sources of information and encouragement, but they do tend to be black holes in terms of productivity. So, I need to find some way of managing my time there.

I also picked up a second teaching job at the last minute, which means that I will be teaching five classes this semester. I thought this would be overwhelming, but judging from last week it may not be as bad as I thought. Perhaps there is still some hope to work on my manuscript this fall.

Ah, my manuscript! The child I both love and hate. I am approaching my revisions with fear and trembling. At the moment, I think the whole thing is totally unoriginal and worthless. I'm sick and tired of it, and wish I could just forget I ever thought of it. But, perhaps forcing myself to do it when I don't want to, will be good for me. Perhaps if the story becomes work, I will be able to lay it aside more easily when my time is up.

I hope so.

I am debating how to structure my day, making the most of my mental and physical energy. I also want to be sure to include some time for daily exercise and devotions, two activities that have been sadly lacking for far too long.

I often think that I should just put the book aside until my son is older and I'm not so busy. As many people have told me, "It will still be there." However, no matter how well everything else is going in my life, if I am not writing, I am unhappy. If I am true to myself by fulfilling that creative urge, I find that I can function better in all the other areas despite the time struggle.

Even so, the time struggle is a mighty one. I often think that blogging and Facebook tend to squander the creativity that should be focused on the novel. Yet I find that the visual and social stimulation of the Internet helps my brain wake up in the morning. My mind is as blank as my Word screen if I don't do a little social networking; unfortunately, the networking tends to turn into "notworking."

So I would like to ask you, my readers and fellow writers,
"How do you redeem your time?"

P.S. My friend Kristal Shaff has a relevant post here: Death to Blogging


bunnygirl said...

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Substitute "time" for "treasure" and see what you come up with.

Don't worry what anyone else says is important. Align your activities with what feels true for you and all will be well.

Laura Martone said...

Hi, Christine. I'm happy that you had such a nice family day - we all need that every now and again.

As for redeeming your time... I'm often tickled to find so many similarities between me and my blogging buddies. Like you, I spend entirely too much time blogging, tweeting, and Facebooking... which, while energizing and encouraging, also distracts me from other important aspects of my life - including working on my travel projects, helping my hubby with his two film fests, revising my own poor manuscript, meditating, doing my yoga (or Wii), and, of course, spending quality time with my hubby and kitty. Balance is the hardest thing to achieve... for most people. But all you can do is keep trying - and know that you're not alone. I'm stressed by my revision, too, but like you, I would go mad if I gave up on the manuscript or, worse yet, gave up on writing altogether.

P.S. Hehe, notworking, hehe.

Christine H said...

This morning I woke up early, before 5 a.m. I half-intended to write, but ended up fooling around for over two hours. I realized that this is avoidance, pure and simple.

I just don't want to do it! Both for fear of having it take over my life again, and for fear of discovering it's awful.

But half the solution is admitting your problem, right?

I think I need a muse. I almost bought a little glass owl statue last week... it had a very piercing stare as if to say, "Get to work already!"

Pam Halter said...

Facebook is definitely a time sucker. I've cut down there by not playing any games or quizzes or doing silly things like I did in the beginning.

I'm in the same place as you, though, about redeeming time. My plan is to take my calendar and mark in writing times. Nothing short of a life threatening emergency will take those times away.

At least, I'm going to try! HA!

I only blog once a week, which helps both me AND my readers, and I cut down on how many blogs I read on a regular basis. In my writing schedule, I'll also set a limited amount of time for reading and networking. When the timer goes off, I'm done.

It's hard to determine what's truly important and what you can ignore. A friend calls it "Tyranny of the Urgent." So many things demand our attention. How many of them are false emergencies? It makes me tired just thinking about it. :)

Christine H said...

Pam, only posting once a week on your blog has left me feeling very deprived.

I keep checking back to see if there's anything new.

Now I know why there isn't! ;o)

Bane of Anubis said...

I don't Facebook or Tweet, but blogging is a ginormous time suck for me, though it's probably more (or at least as) worthwhile than anything I'd be doing vortex anyway.

bunnygirl said...

I'm with Pam on the blogging and FB. I don't play games or take polls and quizzes. I read my friends' updates, I respond if I have something to add, and I post updates of my own when I have something to say. That's it.

I rarely watch TV or movies, which can be a time-suck unless they add real value of some kind. It's easy to fall into the habit of watching just for watching's sake, and that's like feeding junk food to the muse.

I have three weekly blog obligations (CIC, Monday Bunday, and Three Word Wednesday), and I only post between-times if I've actually got interesting news to share. No posting for posting's sake.

As far as blog-reading goes, everything is in my reader so I can see who has updated and who hasn't. It's a real time-saver to go to one site and see everything at a glance.

As far as writing is concerned, though, it's hard to say when to push through and when to let a story go. For me, the first 10-20K is a bit of a forced march, no matter how much I like the project. It usually gets easier after that, but there are always nights when I'm not feeling it.

I guess the real question about persisting vs abandoning comes down to how enthusiastic you are about the characters and their story. You can feel passionately about the story's worth without loving every minute of writing it.

But given your other commitments, is it possible that you'd do better with short stories or flash fiction right now? Writing is a muscle and maybe you're just bored with your workout. There are a lot of sites that give weekly story/poetry prompts if you need inspiration. Maybe you'd start feeling the fun again by mixing things up a bit. Not to mention that it's easier to sell a short story than a novel. Building pub creds is always a good thing.

Christine H said...

I have been sorely tempted to put it aside in favor of something shorter, but I feel that this is one of those things I have to see through. I won't be able to live with myself until I have one good, clean, complete draft. Even if it's not the final one. It just has to be complete.

I worked for about half an hour later this morning before being interrupted. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I think perhaps blogging helped purge my demons this morning.

And of course, all the encouragement really helps, too!

wonderer said...

I spend way too much time online, too. What has worked for me the past few months is setting a time goal - 15 hours a month spent on writing, editing, or story planning (research counts for half time). That's half an hour a day. It's not as much as I'd like to be doing (15 hours a month really doesn't sound like a lot), but I'm building the habit. I set a timer for 15 minutes and work until the timer goes off, then surf a bit, then set it again. Every day I do it, it gets easier. I plan to raise the time goal gradually.

It's working much better for me than a goal like "Finish this editing pass by X date" because I can see it go up daily, and it's not such a huge goal. (As further incentive, I put stars on my calendar whenever I've written/edited, and there's a webcomic I only read if I've done at least half an hour.) It also lets me switch projects if I need to, though I'm doing that less as the habit becomes more ingrained.

Don't ask me when this editing pass is going to be done, though....

Laura Martone said...

I think I should consider following wonderer's plan. Without mini-goals, this editing process will go on forever!

And, as much as I enjoy blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, and commenting on others' blogs, it's become an obsession as of late! Must... remedy... time... suck.

Christine H said...

I am laughing here, because yesterday was insane for me, schedule-wise. I am realizing that although my classes this semester aren't too academically demanding, it is still going to be very time consuming to manage five classes. There is more busy work than I realized.

So all my angst about time management just went out the window. It's all about school again. And when I'm not doing work, I'm so brain dead that if Facebook quizzes keep me awake until my son is ready for bed, then bring 'em on.

Christine H said...

I love the gold star idea Wonderer posted. I used to do that for exercising. Your whole comment was very helpful, W!

Yes, deadlines are somewhat pointless for those of us without contracts. (i.e. not getting paid to write.)

wonderer said...

Glad I could help! And good luck with the teaching this term.

Christine H said...
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Christine H said...
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