Tuesday, November 03, 2009


It's eight a.m. here, and everyone has gone to work or school. The pup has been walked and allowed to win the latest bout of tug-of-war, the cats have been scritched and cuddled, the laundry is started, and the dishes are half done. The tea is brewed, a whole wheat English muffin waits by the toaster. The television, stereo and phones are silent. In a few minutes phase two of the writing day will begin (phase one started at 5 a.m., when I woke up and wrote for an hour while everyone else slept.)

My work schedule for today looks like this:

NaNoNovel: 2K
Kyn #3: 1.5K
FB: 1K
HB: 1K
RL: con/edit
PBW: Tues/Wed
PBWindow: Wed/Thurs
Genreality: draft BSL post/prep graphics
E-mail: answer 20 minimum

I used my early hour to rough out a plot timeline, so I'll have to produce about 5.5K in new words, or approximately 22 manuscript pages, in six hours with two breaks. But despite a solid 5K start yesterday, I'm already about two thousand words behind for the month. I want to make that up today, so I'll shoot for 7.5K, or try to finish about 30 ms. pages before 2:00 p.m. To do this, I need to stay off the internet, so I'm unplugging for the duration.

After 2:00 p.m. I'll check my business e-mail to see if anyone in NY needs something, and then my household chores schedule kicks in. I'll head into town, mail some packages, hit the market, pick up the kids and return home, supervise homework, finish the dishes, start dinner, and dust and vacuum the dining room. My second work session begins at 7:00 p.m., when I'll edit everything I write today, do my backups and tackle some e-mail. Toss in a shower, time with the pets, a second homework check, an hour with my guy and that will wrap up somewhere around midnight.

I'm forgetting something . . .(checking the calendar.) Here it is: my senior is the school play stage manager; he has practice from 5:30-7:30 p.m. He'll need to have dinner an hour earlier than the rest of us, and that's two more trips to the school. If my guy gets home on time from work, I'll see if he can make the second trip.

If I fall behind and have to sacrifice something, cleaning the dining room will probably be the first thing I drop off the to-do list. If I need more time, I'll push my Genreality post back a day; it's not due until Friday. Which reminds me, I'm probably coming up on the weekly rotation for an excerpt to post on Saturday (adding that to tomorrow's schedule.)

It's a busy day, as most Mondays are. I'm praying that the phone won't ring. I have no idea what I'm going to make for dinner; need to think about that. I also wanted to get in an hour of sewing today, but I just don't see room on the schedule for it. Maybe I won't have much editing to do tonight. The more focused I am, the better I write, which results in more time to play later.

Things I have to watch out for: lengthy phone calls (strains my voice, which I need to write), minor domestic disasters (if the pup feels ignored he will find a creative way to get my attention, like his new hobby of dragging all the pillows off the sofa) and homework crises (inevitably something like Mom, I need to make a poster tonight on Greek Architecture for World History or Mom, why do I have to read The Great Gatsby? It's boring or I don't understand this thing my Calculus teacher said, can you explain it?) I don't mind helping, but I have to be careful not to get sucked into doing the kids' homework for them.

All of this is why being organized and planning is so important to me. I doubt I'd get a quarter of this stuff done if I didn't plan my day, and the thing I least like in my work day is wasting time. Which I know I will do if I try to work without a plan. I think this is also why spontaneity in writing has very little appeal for me. I love the idea of being artistic like that, but I just don't have room for it on the schedule.

How do you guys cope with everything you want to-do? Have any tips on what has worked well for you? Let us know in comments.


  1. I like planning and to do lists. I never get everything on them done, but I do a lot more than I would have if I wasn't organized. I also try to visualize my day going the way I want it to, although I usually don't have time for that.

  2. Wow, I got tired just reading you. I can't imagine having such a busy day, I'm not one who plans like that. I just do one thing at a time, and when I've finished I just ask myself, "okay, what's next?" It works well enough, I don't have the feeling of wasting much time (although I don't do as many things as you, not by much!!)

  3. I have a standard to do list schedule, daily schedules for focus and review, stickie notes that I write out as an idea pops into my head so I am not distracted and I don't dust.

    Tuesday's Tales #1 - John

  4. Wow, I'm tuckered out just reading everything you have to do, and I haven't even started my day yet. (Not that my day is anywhere near as busy as yours.)

  5. Your list makes me want to cry.

    I do make lists and I plan every day. But we switched from night people to morning people and even though it's been over a month, my brain is not functioning at 5 am-and I can't seem to make it. I do know that it's become the only time in the day that I really have to myself to write, and not having it work out is very frustrating.

  6. I don't have any brilliant ideas on staying organized and on track, but I did have to tell you that your description of "homework hell" almost made me snort coffee. How do you know my kids???


  7. I really like a Event/Task calendar type thing, like what's included in Outlook though I'm currently testing Google's Calendar.

    I like that I can just drag and drop something so it still gets done, just at a later date or earlier, depending. Plus being able to see weeks in advance deadlines etc? Makes your life so much simpler.

  8. I'm at work all day so I do that, then dinner, baby bath, baby play and book and baby bed. Then I get down to it and that's that.

    On the weekends I have to write when he naps, and now with Nanowrimo I'll write when he's in bed also.

    My trick is to not allow myself to feel sorry for myself or wallow. no time for it.

    Hey PBW, at some point could you blog a Nanowrimo pep talk? I've read the ones on their website but I'd love to see one from you!

  9. Anonymous12:40 PM

    HOLY COW! You are my hero. I want some of whatever you're having.


  10. You have inspired me, thanks for the post. I don't get anything done and this is why - I don't plan. This is exactly the wakeup call I needed.

    Great blog, by the way. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Anonymous2:40 PM

    I rarely do just one thing at a time. I'll cook and make lists, or wash up and plot, or eat and write. My day runs 5 am to 11 pm, usually with no breaks. I did one of those "write down everything you do" all-day analyses and found I had zero downtime.

    So now I schedule 10 mins downtime and 10 mins writing time every weekday. It keeps me focused and positive.

    And I keep kid-time sacrosanct. That's the real secret, for me.


  12. Keita Haruka3:27 PM

    Whoa! That's FAR more organised than I ever get. Only work gets scheduled. Everything else I do when I feel like doing it. I could never schedule certain things. I tried it, and it didn't work. :p

    *sigh* And I'm about 2000 words behind schedule...

  13. Stace3:55 PM

    I couldn't get a quarter of that done in a day WITH your organizational skills! I bow to your superiority. Wow!

  14. I'm a meticulous planner too, but your projected output for the day blew me away. I think the most I've ever managed in one day was 4k, and that was with a new story I was particularly eager to work on. Of course, I work a different job full-time so I have less time for writing, but still...I applaud your abilities.

    Love the NaNo countdown timer!

  15. I have a real problem with getting everything done in my day too. It's something I struggle with everyday, but one thing I'm trying and that's helped some are to-do lists. I put everything I need to do that day on them. Nothing makes me feel more accomplished then seeing those boxes checked off!

  16. "strains my voice, which I need to write"

    That quote stuck out for me. You've probably written about this before, but do you use voice recognition software to write? I keep hearing about writers that do (Kevin Anderson and others). If you do, how do you write at five in the morning and not wake the family?

  17. OMW!! I am in complete and utter awe. I plan my workday like this every day (if I didn't, I'd not get everything done and likely get fired), but my writing... maybe it's time to fire my muse and hire my hard-driving organized alter ego.