Writing about writing.
If it sounds a little forced, it is. I don't know what to write about here just yet. It's not that I can't write; I believe that I can write just fine. It's that I don't often have the time to write, and so when I do find some time available to practice this particular art form I quickly get confused, disoriented and neurotic about exactly what it is that I want to write about.
So, for this first article, I though perhaps that I would write about...writing. It is something that I like to do as often as I can, and like I said before, I don't always have the time. Actually, I do have the time, if you consider the small increments of time during the day, well spaced and crushed between drive time and some other task that is gasping and clawing to get done. These little "time spaces" are usually 30-45 minutes long and just before something else that's about to happen, which sometimes requires organization and thinking before it actually has to occur. So, that 30-45 minutes, as huge as that is, begins to get whittled to a more realistic 15-20 minutes. That's more like it.
So, what can you do in fifteen minutes, one might ask? Well, you could...wash your car, eat some pie, call your bank or the IRS (just kidding), empty the dishwasher, fix a pipe, mow the lawn (that small one, on the side of the house, not the big one). You could drive to the corner store and put gas in the car, or you could play some baseball with the kids, the list goes on and I'm sure that I left at least 3 things out. The point is that there are many things that you can do in fifteen minutes.
One thing that is not on that list, at least for me, is working on my book. Fifteen minutes, twenty minutes, thirty minutes...these are time periods best spent doing something that I'm not going to have to be into for very long, such as working on anything spreadsheet related, or ongoing projects like logging in finances, because these are things that you can pick up and drop back down at any time, and you can pretty much pick up where you left off. Writing in any form, whether its pounding out words in the chapters, researching characters or coming up with new plot ideas, I find to be a very difficult choice from the standpoint of actually gaining any progress at all in less than two hours' time. The reason? Well one of them is that the first thirty minutes or so are spent browsing the Scrivner file or spreadsheets, getting back up to speed from the last time that I worked on the book (3 months ago) to gaining some momentum about where I'm going to take the story next. It takes time to get into this mindset, and if you only have a half hour to work with...well, you can see that your time would be finished before you even started.
So, what do you do when you have limited time, massive databases of ideas and information just waiting to get out, and a lifestyle with the mass of a freight train moving at the speed of light? You do the best that you can. I find that doing things that optimize my time is a good endeavor, for it frees up what precious little time that I do have to get right to it, so to speak. Another thing that I am trying out is modifying my schedule to be more conducive to writing in large, uninterrupted blocks of time. The trouble is, that's a hard thing to achieve if you have time constraints during every part of your day. So, little changes here and there are the only way to do it. I get up much earlier now, which shifts my entire schedule forward throughout the day. Going to sleep earlier seems to be a problem on some days, but not every day. The schedule that I'm trying to set is still in the works and evolving, so it may end up being changed several times before I finally arrive at the answer.
In the end, the results will speak for themselves. I have discovered that I have become more and more neurotic and fixated on organizing and optimizing, squeezing every last drop of productivity from the seconds and minutes (and on certain days hours) that I do have available to me while trying to balance all of the other activities that I need to do as well. This has become so prevalent lately that I have considered entering it into the schedule as an action in and of itself: "Scheduled Time for Optimizing and Organizing the Optimization Schedule." Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
I hope that my next article will be titled "Solution-How to Shove 2 Hours of Writing into a 30 Minute Bag", yeah, that should be some good reading (and writing).