the full-time writerly life: daily edition
So, time management.
With conventional office jobs and the like, your time is structured for you. Bosses expect you to show up at a certain time and stay until a certain time, or at least to do X hours per week. Some full-time writers, I know, treat their self-employment the same way — but as I said elsewhere re: “dressing for work,” I suspect that many of them used to be in office jobs. My employment has generally been irregular; classes provided scattered points of fixity in my schedule, but the rest of my work (reading, papers, grading) was built around deadlines, so I tended to do it whenever, so long as I got it done in time.
Which is my lead-in to saying: what will I do with myself all day?
I said in my last F-TWL post that one thing I won’t apologize for is my hours. I only got my alarm clock plugged in last night — I needed a power strip in the bedroom; it isn’t just that I couldn’t be bothered — and I may start using it again, so I can regularly wake up at 11. (Otherwise there’s the occasional day when apparently my body decides it needs to keep me unconscious until after noon. On the one hand, maybe it’s right to do so, but on the other . . . even I think that’s a little ridiculous.) I wake up swiftly, in terms of being able to get out of bed, but I’m not good for much right after that. Takes a while for my brain to warm up. So my routine after getting out of bed involves spending an hour or so checking e-mail, reading blogs, etc. Which isn’t as much of a time-waster as it sounds; true, the Internets are full of procrastination, but this is my best route to random information I wouldn’t think to go looking for. Last night yhlee sent me off into the wilds of Wikipedia, reading about ocular heterochromia. This is on the list of “not to be apologized for”: I’m feeding my brain.
So while I’m not going to pin things to precise blocks of time, the general pattern is wake up, spend an hour dinking around, have lunch. After that, it’s more fluid. I figure my afternoons will be for some combination of domestic duties and writing-related program activities. Sometimes I’m in a mood to knock off a bunch of business e-mails or update my website or read for research or send out short stories. Sometimes I’m in a mood to organize a closet or go to the grocery store or sew curtains. Whatever I’m motivated for, that’s what I’ll do, unless there’s something else on a pressing deadline. Because really, that’s the great virtue of a flexible schedule: you don’t necessarily have to make yourself do something you just have no will for today. (Eventually you may have to. But I’ve learned to trust myself that I will generally grow the motivation in time; ergo, I am better off not pushing it unless I have to.)
Around about 5 p.m., I start thinking about the end of kniedzw‘s work day. If I got up early to drive him to work, I consequently have to go pick him up again; otherwise, I’m waiting for him to show up. I’m treating this as a distinct block of time because one thing I would like to start doing is cook; I feel like I don’t have much excuse beyond lack of enthusiasm and practice for making meals that involve actual preparation. So I can be doing anything that’s compatible with cooking dinner. (Do I expect myself to make a real meal every day? No. Baby steps, here. If I’m making “turn the following raw components into food” meals twice a week to start with, that will be substantial progress.)
In the evening, it’s more kick-back-and-relax time. Reading and/or watching of things, probably, though I’m looking into starting up some martial arts class, that would presumably fall in here. But in general, activities that don’t involve me closing my office door and ignoring kniedzw. He objects if I do that too much.
And then there’s late at night, which is when I will get the writing done. (So yes, the basic “work” part of my workday comes at the end.) If I feel inspired to tackle it in the afternoon, then by all means, bring on the keyboard; but if I haven’t done it earlier, this is the one really scheduled thing in my day. Because if I’m not putting words down on a regular basis, then I ain’t really a writer, am I?
I have more to say on my writing expectations for a given day, but I think that will fit better into the macro edition of my schedule. I’m posting about these things mostly for my own benefit, really, to work through them in my own mind and have a record of my plan, but I figure at least a few of you might find it helpful.