Back in the dark ages, I worked at a state university for a department that offered personnel and management workshops and consulting services for state and municipal employees. I hated that freaking job, but as a result of spending four years of my life doing it, I often find myself thinking about business-related concepts I stumbled upon at work in relation to writing. (I never actually studied any of this stuff.)
One of the business-related concepts I think about is time management.
Organization and self-discipline are not things I learned at my mother's knee. Or at all. I have to make major efforts to manage my time so I can write. Always. It's not a linear process. It's more two steps forward and one step back, if I'm lucky and I haven't fallen over altogether, metaphorically speaking. Then I get started again. I'm always reading about better ways to manage time in all aspects of my life in order to isolate time to work. This has been going on for years. I won't even get into how many years.
So when artist Liza Myers posted a link on her Facebook page to Time Lost and Found by Anne Lamott, I rushed to read it. I did not, however, find it very useful. During my years of time management research, I'd read plenty of advice like Lamott's--you've got the time to write, you've just got to cut back on some other, lesser activity. I'm very sympathetic to those people who wonder, What lesser activity? There are plenty of us out here who have signficant family responsibilities or who really do need to put in many hours on a salary-generating job, because, you know, giving up work to live in a garret and write only works in romantic comedies. I also find such advice very glib because the people giving it rarely address the impact of reorganizing your life to work in a creative field in which you don't get daily or even weekly (monthly? annual?) feedback.
While I was making rambling comments/complaints on Liza's Facebook page regarding Lamott's essay, I thought, This is a nuts and bolts subject that ought to be addressed at writers' conferences and retreats, in books and at listservs, at...Original Content.
My followers know how much I love an obsession. So in 2012 I'm going to obsess on time management for writers and others in creative fields. I'm hoping that readers will jump in and comment, offering their reactions to my thoughts and their experiences with managing time. Maybe by the end of the year some of us will have found a way to structure our lives in such a way that we're cranking out work the way we've always dreamed we would.
Until next Tuesday.
Thanks, Gail--I'm excited about this series. It dovetails nicely with my own New Year's resolution (guess what it is). I wonder what my kids are learning at my own knee (actually, one of them is should height already), because it's sadly not organization and self-discipline.
I found this essay to be very helpful, and have mentioned it/sent it to many writer friends -- it's in the Nov/Dec issue of Poets & Writers (here's the reference, article not avail. online, but see if your library has a copy of the issue!): http://www.pw.org/content/a_writer039s_daily_habit_four_steps_to_higher_productivity
article is by Ellen Sussman.
Jennifer--I'm planning to pick up some writer/booky magazines to take on retreat week. I'll see if that issue of Poets & Writers is still available on the stands.
Ellen Sussman has some other articles/blog posts on writing available through the Media section of her website. http://ellensussman.com/media.html
Okay, Anamaria. I'll be looking for your comments this year.
Gail, yes, we're going to line up for time management tips!
I have that issue of Poets and Writers, which I expect has disappeared from the newstand. I love an issue with a cover girl in her 80's (Joan Didion) If you think I could get it to you in time before your retreat,(or if you just want it anyway), send me your address to my name at gmail dot com (or facebook message me, but sometimes I forget to check those).
We're going out tonight. My husband doesn't know it, but I'm going to make him go to Barnes & Noble afterward. If I can't find the magazine, I'll get in touch. If you can bring yourself to deface a mag, you can just rip out the article and mail it nice and cheaply. That would be great, and thank you for the thought.
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