Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Time Management or Neurosis?

Writers do a lot. It seems like most successful writers you hear about are insanely busy people. On top of families and day jobs and writing (and marketing and researching and doing publicity) they tend to balance hobbies like bee keeping (Neil Gaiman) or playing in a band (Stephen King, Dave Barry, etc). Of course, it's possible that there are successful writers that don't do these things, that barely manage to squeeze their writing in and who therefore probably don't have time for things like interviews which would display the fact they don't home-brew or whatever. But it did make me wonder whether writers just have to be better at time management in order to carve out that writing time, or if we're just neurotic? I mean, what kind of people sacrifice hours of their time every week in order to create a work which will probably garner soul-crushing rejection after soul-crushing rejection, and which, should we manage to finally get published, may never and probably won't pay an hourly wage higher than working at McDonald's?

Case in point...

I had a four-day weekend this last weekend, a much looked-forward-to and needed vacation. The first three days we spent either slacking or being social. (Apart from some time on Sunday where The Husband got called in by two different friends to help them with their computers.) We had planned on spending Monday at home, giving The Dog some much-needed people time and hanging around the house in general.

Monday is my chores day.

Now, Monday is my chores day with good reason. Normally at work Monday is my day to field the office voicemail, something that I hate doing, and if one really needs any extra reasons to not like a day, you might as well pile them all on one day so you can enjoy the rest of your week. Tuesday is also trash day, so I have to get the trash out the night before, and I also need to get my Tuesday blog post done on Monday, so it all dovetails nicely. I've also started doing the checkbook once a week on Mondays, and balancing the checkbook against the bank statement on the first Monday of the month. PLUS the first Monday is when you have to have any brush out to the curb that you want the city to pick up that month.

So when I had a whole Monday at home, well, I got down to it. We walked the dog, and then I took care of my flowerbeds. Then we wrangled the rest of the giant tree limb that had fallen into our yard two months ago and got it cut up sufficiently to get down to the curb. Then The Husband mowed the lawn while I got laundry going. Upon making lunch, he discovered we were low on a lot of our spices so we went shopping. We got back and ate lunch on the couch in front of the TV with the dog keeping us company. When I went to get the mail I discovered a rejection letter, so I sat down and sent the story out again, and while I was there I started doing the checkbook, with every intention of then balancing the statement and then setting up the monthly electronic payments and possibly making up a budget spreadsheet like I've been thinking about before starting on my blog post.

I was still working on the checkbook when The Husband came over. "I thought we were going to slack and watch movies today."

I glanced over my shoulder at the TV. "Go ahead, I can hear it."

Poke. "This isn't slacking."

"But it's Monday," I said, as if that should make sense.

"You're on vacation. I was willing to forgive the laundry…"

"I'm out of socks, and you need work shirts for tomorrow. And the branch had to go out today, and so does the trash, and you saw how big the pile of checkcard slips was last time I let it go, it took me two hours to go through…"

He leaned down, nose-to-nose, and said very seriously, "Those are all things your mother would say."

"She's a wise woman," I replied, but couldn't keep a straight face. I love her dearly, but my mom is a dyed-in-the-wool workaholic. Still, sometimes you're going to sound like your mother. Own it.

As you can see from yesterday's post, The Husband did prevail. (He's awfully persuasive when he wants to be.) And I am left writers actually manage their time better, or are we just neurotics with a goal and some focus?

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