Tag Archives: time management

Following the Bird in Flight when it Comes to the Debut Author To-Do List

Like Lindsey (see her excellent post from a couple of weeks ago, Debut Author To-Do List), I’m a list maker. Unlike Lindsey, however, I am rather *cough* obsessive about it. My debut author to-do list is a spreadsheet. Okay, that might not sound so bad, but my spreadsheet has an embarrassing 135 rows, sorted chronologically, spanning from more than a year before the book’s release to more than two years after… and that’s just for one book. Yes, it’s totally ridiculous overkill, to be sure. I knew when I built it that I wasn’t going to be able to even come close to doing everything on the list. I put in every possible thing I could think of, anything I might want to remember to even think about doing when the time came. I knew I was going to have to pick and choose, prioritize, and, yes, let go of some (okay, a whole bunch) of the things on the list.

debut author spreadsheet

I got off to a fairly good start, at least.

On Monday, Megan wrote about “following the bird in flight” when drafting (see her excellent post, Writing in One Layer). I’ve been thinking about similar ideas lately, but more as they apply to the debut experience as a whole. I built that spreadsheet because I thought I’d be able follow the neatly organized chronological to-do list. I thought I’d be in control, evaluating and deciding what was really a to-do and crossing out the rest. Then I would just march down the remaining to-do list and the whole process would roll smoothly and efficiently along. Ha! What I’ve learned is that practically everything about the debut author experience is a surprise. Some of the biggest pieces are outside of my control. Being flexible enough to deal with shifting realities—bouncing back from unforeseen setbacks or pouncing on unexpected opportunities—is key.

Every teardrop is a waterfall

I am not this flexible.

  • What happens when you learn that the curriculum guide you’ve been eagerly anticipating—and promising to teachers—is not only not finished yet, but hasn’t even been started… and isn’t going to be? In my case, you come up with a plan B: figuring out how to add Common Core State Standard assignments to the library event kit that is already in progress.
  • What do you do when you randomly notice that, hey, there’s a Goodreads giveaway of your ARCs, and it’s been running for three days already? In my case, you make some room in a few of your days to get the word out and help promote the giveaway.
  • What do you do when you happen to see that the publisher of your upcoming picture book has put the cover—which you have never seen before—on their website? In my case, you SQUEE for joy, dance around the room for a while, hyperventilate, eat some chocolate, and then quietly sneak the image up on the Emu’s Debuts sidebar and your own webpage and hope someone notices.
Emmanuel's Dream cover

I can’t wait to show you what’s inside!

  • What do you do when a local private school director invites you to coffee to talk about possible collaborations, or a well-known blog invites you to do a guest post, or your publisher invites you to do a live video webinar on your book’s topic, or a thriving local startup invites you to their annual company open house as a featured guest, or a trusted youth organization approaches you about giving changemaker workshops? In my case, you say, “YES!” to all of them and start preparing (even though “live” and “video” are two words that should never be put together, in my opinion!).

None of those things were even on my spreadsheet, and I’m not coming at all close to keeping up with my to-do list. (It’s rather fitting that I missed my Thursday morning deadline for this very post, isn’t it?) I expected to be able to just draft a plan and then carry it out, but instead my debut experience seems to be all about following the bird in flight. And I’m okay with that: it’s taking me to some amazing places.

Off you go

Photo from liquidnight on Flickr.

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Filed under Advice, Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, Helpful or Otherwise, Launch, Promotion, Time Management, Writing and Life

Making Time

I’m here to share a secret with you all.  Gather near.  Lean in.  Shh.

I have a superpower.

No, I can’t fly, become invisible, or see through walls.  My power is far more useful and pragmatic, and it’s also transferrable; after reading this post, you can assume it for yourself.  Are you ready?  Here it is:

I can make 25 hours out of 24. 

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This photo might not fully illustrate my point, but I saved a little time by not caring.

Think of me as an extremely low-level Time Lord.  If I weren’t one, I’d be in big trouble.  I’m a debut author, which means that I don’t have a steady stream of authorial income; instead, I’m a full-time middle-school teacher with three preps, I have a three-year-old son, I just turned in the revision of my first novel, and in five months I have a second manuscript to deliver. Somewhere in there, there’s also a husband who is fighting the good fight with me. I think I glimpsed him at one point yesterday.

I want these demands to be made upon my time.  These are good things.  But to juggle them requires superhuman effort. So for all you new and aspiring authors out there who are trying to make your writing a priority right alongside your job, your family life, and whatever else is competing for your time and attention, I’m here to help you. Just follow these steps, and you too can squeeze an extra hour out of the clock each day.

10 SERIOUS AND IMPORTANT STEPS THAT WILL TURN YOU INTO A SUPER

WritingOnTheFloor

Why bother with a chair? Save an extra minute by writing on the floor.
(Photo by Kristin Brown)

1. Don’t do your hair. Scrape it into a knot on your head and put a headband on to make it look like you tried. There. That’s nice. Gentlemen, you look especially fetching.

2. Don’t turn your clothes right side out until you put them on.  You are too busy for that.  Hanging and folding your laundry is now officially optional. May I suggest draping everything artistically over your bedroom furniture?  Dumping armloads of fresh, warm laundry into a graceful rocking chair and then throwing a blanket over the heap is another option (you’re welcome).

3. Cereal is a dinner food. Toast is also acceptable. Gluten-free options available at your local location that offers gluten-free options.

4.  Let shaving slide. It’s winter, okay?  Also, maybe your husband owes you for the various beard “styles” (lumberjack, Lincoln, Manson) you have loved without judgment (okay, so calling it a Manson beard is kind of a judgment) over the years.

5. Red lights afford the perfect amount of time in which to file your fingernails.

6. Your car is filthy because you are environmentally conscious.  Not for any other reason.

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Coffee’s nutritional value is tremendous. I know, because this beverage is almost singlehandedly keeping me alive.

7. Coffee is a breakfast food. It also makes a lovely snack.

8. It’s totally okay to go on for five months digging at the same obviously finished lipstick tube with the bottom of a pen in order to apply your makeup. This is normal. Also, nobody can see you.

9. Lunch is optional. Keep a supply of stale Halloween candy in a drawer in your office, and shove it in your mouth between completing tasks. You’ll be fine.

10. This is the only serious one: Make a date with your writing, and keep it.  Even if you can only do this once a week, it will add up big time.  I have a standing date with a highly responsible teaching colleague who never cancels, and we keep each other accountable.  We meet every Sunday night at 5pm at a Starbucks that closes at 8.  It has comfy chairs, and I write for three solid hours.  I am rested from the weekend, I can be focused and productive, and I don’t feel guilty about being away from my son, who is at home having some serious Dad time. Without this standing date, I would not have finished my revision on time.  No way.

That’s it.  POW.  You’ve been granted a superpower (and a glimpse into my grimy, nutritionally challenged private life).

How do you scratch out time for your writing?

HiRes_Morrison_6861_cropMegan Morrison is the author of GROUNDED: A TALE OF RAPUNZEL, due out summer 2015 from Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic. GROUNDED is the first book in the Tyme Series, co-created with Ruth Virkus. You can follow Megan on her blog at makingtyme.blogspot.com or on Twitter at @megtyme. She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

 

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Filed under Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, Time Management, Writing and Life