I've written here frequently about situational time management and the need to constantly adapt how we manage time to the new situations writers (and all people who work for themselves) are always finding themselves in. Last week author Laurie Calkhoven wrote at Smack Dab in the Middle
about authors who work regularly for hire and their need to set criteria for the jobs they'll take on. But I think her post also was a case study in how a writer's work situation can change and how rapidly it can change.
During a period when Laurie was working on a book of her own, she was offered a freelance job with a deadline that was only a month away. She accepted the job on a Friday, meaning her work situation for the next four weeks had suddenly changed dramatically. Then on Saturday she became ill. On Monday she had to quit the job she had accepted only three days before. Suddenly, her work situation had changed again.
I usually write here about more modest situational changes for writers: dropping everything to respond to a request for a proposal or an appearance inquiry or having to dedicate time to promotion, for instance, instead of generating new work. (Reactive vs. creative time.) But authors who do work for hire face these more extreme situational changes. Early this fall a Facebook friend posted about having just accepted a writing project with a Thanksgiving deadline and last spring I met an author/illustrator who had accepted a job that meant her next two years would be tied up illustrating another person's books. These are changes in work situation that can be sudden and intense, and the use of the author's time while in those situations has a big impact on their work output.