You can’t see her but she’s there about halfway down the to-do list and she’s pissed off. How do I know? Maybe it’s the way her perky button nose is snarled. Or it could be the smoke pouring out of her ears. Perhaps the laser beams shooting out of her dark brown eyes was the give away. All I know is that right now I’m glad she’s not a real person . If she was, she’d be swinging and I’m a big wimp who can’t take a punch.
The she in question is my heroine. She’s stuck in a story after finding out the identity of the villain. She’s primed and ready for action, but is floundering around ignored by me as I work my way through the to-do list. More insistent that a hungry two-year-old who hasn’t had a nap, my heroine is ready to get moving but I’m still searching for the time to get the next chapter on paper.
Yes, time management is the bane of an author’s existence. Whether it’s a day job, Internet gossip sites, writers loops or the hot guy mowing the lawn across the street, it’s easy to find other things to do besides write. I fight the time sucking demons myself (as my poor heroine will attest), but here’s how I try to avoid them.
First a caveat: My day job work schedule is super flexible, which is awesome and not an advantage that everyone has. Some days I’ll only work a few hours. Other days, I’m burning the midnight oil way past midnight. It all depends on the workload.
Plotter or Pantser?
I’m a hybrid. I plot out the main turning points of the novel. I write four or five things that have to happen in each of the first four chapters. Then, the urge to write overwhelms me and I start. I go and go until I’ve written myself into a wall. Pulling back, I consider where I am in the overall plot. Next, I outline the chapters I’ve written (often I’ll find and fix plot holes here) and four or five things that must happen in the next four chapters. This revs my writing engine up and I’m off again. Believe it or not, I’m an organized soul and would love to be an actual plotter. However, like many writers I have to fit my writing in whenever I can, so this process works with the scheduling craziness.
Time to Write?
I schedule two hours a day to write Monday through Thursday. Yes, I actually block off the time on my calendar, turn off my e-mail and hide my cell phone. Some days the words flow like crazy, other times I spend those two hours beefing up previously written pages. In addition, I take Fridays off to write, at least until I have to pick up the kiddies from school. This gives me a huge chunk of time to just go for it. I look at these days as a type of book in a day exercise. I write without revision as much as I can in that time period. I’d love to say I don’t have to spend any time with revisions, but that would be a big fat lie. So I fit in my smoothing, beefing up and tweaking for about two hours a night. Yep, the kiddies go to bed and I write until 10 p.m. Then it’s a beer and some trash TV – oh how I love The Soup. Joel McHale is my TV boyfriend, don’t tell the hubby.
So, why is my heroine stalking me? Because life has a way of messing with us authors pulling us away from what we want to do and forcing us to do something else. Hey! That sounds like the definition of conflict. Now I know why we write about conflicts, it’s cheap therapy.