Archive for January 13, 2023

writing life

Getting Things Done

I’ve noticed during the course of my writing career that writing a first draft is all-consuming for me. I may not spend that many hours in the day actually producing words, but my brain is never off-duty. That means I have no brain left to do anything else. I may try, but I’ll stare at the computer screen and try to remember what I should be doing. This is a real problem because there’s business and marketing stuff I need to do in addition to writing, and most of that requires a lot of attention to detail.

I start my writing first thing in the workday, before I do anything else, and that tends to make me more productive for the rest of the day, but it also means that by the time I reach my writing goal for the day, I have no brain left to do anything else. But if I start the day doing marketing or business work, I never manage to start writing.

I only have about a week left of working on this first draft, so I don’t have a lot of time for experimenting now, but I’m pondering a couple of different ideas.

One is to make a clean break between writing and other work. Right now, I reach my writing goal and immediately try to switch over to other work. Maybe if I stop and go do a bit of housework or exercise and then come back to the computer I’ll be better at switching gears and have more brainpower.

Another possibility is to have a designated “getting things done” day. I did this in the past when I was teaching children’s choir, which meant my workday ended early and I had prep work to do, so I seldom got much done. I declared that to be the “get things done” day and didn’t even try to do any writing on that day. That was the day for errands, personal business tasks like paying bills, and doing any publishing business or promo work. Then I just focused on writing the rest of the week. I think I did get more administrative and marketing work done, but it also hurt my writing momentum. I didn’t get additional writing done on the other days to make up for the day with no writing, and I had to review where I left off after taking a break in the middle of the week.

I’ve also tried scheduling, where I have designated times for writing and for admin and promo work, and I don’t worry about writing goals but go by the clock. That hasn’t been that effective for me because it doesn’t address having run out of steam when it’s time for admin work.

I think I’ll try that break idea next week and see what happens. Right now, I do my exercise at the end of the workday, as a way of making a break between work and relaxation. Doing a yoga session helps me unwind and relax in the evening. But maybe if I did that after writing it would help me shift gears. Or I could take a walk or do something around the house, then go back to the office and start what might feel like a second workday.

Or I could somewhat combine the two and have a getting things done day in which I only write in the morning. Plow through as much writing as I can get done before lunch, then have lunch, and then do my business and promo stuff after lunch. That way, I can maintain some momentum but still get things accomplished.