Friday, March 31, 2017

I'm all about balance when it comes to work

First, some good news. I'm writing a new book that will be coming out sometime in 2018. I can't share many details yet, but when I can, I will! I'm almost as excited as this lady from my favorite soft-serve ice cream place.

The not-so-good news? I have a first draft due in a month or so. I'm about halfway done, I think? Maybe? Hopefully? And April is a really busy month for me with some sub jobs I already agreed to, a couple of appearances/events, some scheduled Skype visits, and the usual stuff life stuff.

Author R.J. Anderson shared this post on twitter yesterday, which talks about hours worked and productivity. "Decades of research demonstrate that the correlation between the number of hours worked and productivity is very weak," says Alex Soojun-Kim Pang, a Stanford University visiting scholar and founder of the Restful Company. Pang has now written a book called REST: WHY YOU GET MORE DONE WHEN YOU WORK LESS. I think I'm going to read that book.

R.J. shared that it's taken her a long time to realize that she is much happier and more productive when she takes frequent breaks throughout the day. And by breaks, she means getting up and getting away from the computer. Taking a walk. Napping. Baking cookies. I replied I've found the same to be true. I am a much happier writer when I have a balanced life that includes the things in life I love - gym time, dog walks, meal preparation and the occasional batch of cookies, a relatively clean house (which my family does help with, thankfully), social get-togethers, family time, and yes, power naps when I need them.

I know that if I write 500-1000 words a day over the next month, I'll meet that deadline. If I can focus for two hours a day, I can do those words. Here are the two things I've found to be key for me:

1) Every evening, I jot down what comes next in the story. It's usually just a paragraph, nothing fancy, but it takes the guess work out of what needs to happen when I sit down to write. I've already figured it out.

2) Then I have to decide WHEN those two hours will occur depending on what appointments or errands I have the next day. Like, today, I need to go grocery shopping and I also have a hair appointment early this afternoon. AND it's supposed to be sunny this afternoon. No way I'm spending the last hours of the afternoon in front of my computer. So I'll go grocery shopping, come back and write for two hours, and then I'm done for the day.

Everyone is different, it's true. Some authors would rather write a ton of words every day over a short period of time, doing hardly anything else. And maybe that's the key here - each writer has to experiment and find out what works best for him/her. But I also think burnout is a very real thing we need to be careful of if we want to keep writing for many years to come.

Anyway - if I'm not posting much this month, now you know why. It's a busy month, with a book to write. As Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights likes to say - let's git'er done.

Wishing you a happy spring!

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