Monday, February 21, 2011

What Writers Need For Success...

Since I started this blog just last month and signed up for Twitter, I'm amazed at how much I'm enjoying blogging and tweeting. I feel like a kid with a new toy. I'm a little late to the game I know, but I've always been the last one to jump on a bandwagon. Let all the guinea pigs go first and then I'll decide, that's my attitude. Same thing when it comes to upgrading my technology. If it wasn't for my husband I'd still be using a VCR. But, when it comes to all the social media I do notice one drawback. Between the blogging, tweeting, making new friends, interacting with other writers, bloggers, book reviewers, and book lovers, I notice how much it's cutting into my writing time. How is a writer suppose to balance it all?

I'm also fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do book reviews for a local paper in Mississauga. This also just started last month, and I'm really excited about it. So with reading those books I'm reviewing, plus the ones I read just for myself, and all the social media vying for my time, I've only managed to write maybe three short stories. That's all the fiction writing I've done. I haven't even looked at the new manuscipt that I'm working on (well, not working on is what it really is) nor have I done any rewrites for the sequel to my first novel, Scarlet Rose, that I've got coming out later this year. And then of course there's work. Don't forget work, making money to pay the electricity bill which fuels the laptop and the writing addiction. And there's the housework, the dust-bunnies that need sweeping before they grow teeth and eat the pets, the leaning towers of dishes and pots and pans filling the kitchen counter on any given day. The mountains of laundry waiting to be done, clogging the floorspace as if a stuff-bomb exploded. And there's excersise to think about too.

I wish I could hire somebody to take my body out jogging while I sit here and get some writing done. I really think the one thing that a writer needs to ensure that the writing gets done, is a maid. Yes, a maid. Not just any maid. Not just one of those maids that comes in once or twice a week for half an hour. Who writer's really need is Alice from the Brady Bunch, the live-in housekeeper. She cooks, she cleans, she takes care of the kids, she's always there to lend a hand. Okay...I'm dreaming. I know. So how does a writer balance it all? What are the tools for success?

In two words, I beleive, it's time management.
Stephen Covey's book First Things First is the best book I ever read on time management. Not that I read a lot of books on the subject. But the information and skills he suggests are nothing short of miraculous. I'll have to dust off my copy.

The one thing I try to do is multi-task when I can. I listen to audiobooks when I work out. And recently I've started tweeting when I'm sitting on the excercise bike. I also listen to audiobooks when I grocery shop. I do my phone calling in the car (hands free ofcourse). I try to cook more cassaroles and use my crock-pot for cooking dinner. It's always nice to come home to the smell of dinner cooking. I usually make a batch of soup on Sundays for lunch during the week as well as a pot of pasta sauce which I freeze in small portions. Fortunately my daughter is now a teenager and needs less of my time than when she was small. She does enjoy cooking so now and then she'll make dinner, however, cleaning up afterward is another story.

I wonder too, if men who write have an easier time of it. Typically, even though most women hold down full time jobs, they are the ones who do the majority of cooking and cleaning. That's how it is in my house. Although, my husband takes on all the traditional male jobs like taking out garbage, fixing stuff around the house, shoveling snow, cutting grass, etc. He does occasionally help with the dishes.

So, as a busy writer with a job, a family who needs attention, a house and pets to look after, as well as other obligations one has, how do you balance it all? Is there something you've discovered that works? That enables you to do everything you want, or at least have time for all the important things in your life? Do you get up an hour or two earlier in the mornings to get your writing fix? Have you given up a hobby you enjoy to have time for your writing? Or have you managed to find your own personal Alice? Please share your thoughts and ideas for any time management techniques you've learned.


  1. I agree that time management is one of the key tools for authors - indeed for anyone who wants to be successful in life. Time is a very precious commoddity and so we have to be extremely efficient wit it.

  2. Thanks for commenting. Yes, efficiency is the key, isn't it? It's much too easy to waste :)

  3. I guess every writer could use a good maid. Unfortunately I have to settle for bags under my eyes. Between work, running (which has fallen by the wayside), and my life at home (where I don't even have kids), and reading, I have to find time when I should be sleeping to write...or try and cram it in on the weekends. I like to get up early, but it doesn't always work.

    Something important to remember though, at least as I see it, one hour of good writing is better than two of drowsy sh*t writing. Excuse my eloquence but I do believe it is better to rest when I really, really need it.

    Still, I often find myself asleep at my desk. Good luck managing your time. Nice post Julia.

  4. Thanks Andrew. I'm not a morning person myself so getting up early to write is just plain out of the question.I like my sleep too. But image how much you could get done if you didn't need sleep, huh?