Time is not my friend. I’ve got my head pretty far in the clouds, and as a result, I’m a poor planner. I don’t mind sharing this information because, well, you don’t actually know me. You’re not impacted at all by my last-minute rushing, my completely avoidable “emergencies,” or any other woes related to my time-management deficiencies. And thank goodness for you that you’re not. I suck at time-management because it’s an organizational skill, and I was blessed with very few of those. The skills I do have are hard-won, I assure you.
I could probably be a better writer if I could get time on my side. Certainly I could log more hours on this blog and on my other writing exercises (which I spend hours browsing the internet to find but never actually do, because, well… you know why). I could have more hours to rework drafts, make notes on one of the thousand projects in my head, or download my ideas off my phone’s “notes” feature so that when it inevitably dies I won’t lose years worth of brain dump. (I did that with my last phone. One more example of poor planning biting me in the ass.)
As it is, it took me until my thirties to complete any written work that wasn’t assigned for school. That’s over 25 years of “thinking about” writing, since I started scribbling stories on construction paper when I was about 4 1/2. (I never finished a single one.) Beginnings are my specialty. I could write opening lines all day (and sometimes I do). Random scenes pop into my head and I lovingly birth them without the rest of a story to parent them. It’s a weakness of mine that I feel I could channel somehow, only I haven’t the foggiest idea of how to so that. Are there life coaches who teach people how to be more organized and disciplined? If so, that’s what I want for Christmas. I desperately need to get out of my own way when it comes to organization and especially time management.
I should add that I come by all this quite honestly. My father is the kind of man who made sketch upon sketch of the house he built us even when he could have been actually working on said house. He mused over floor plans and options while my mother slammed pots and pans because she had three kids under the age of seven and a staircase that wasn’t yet closed in. (You can see how that might be problematic, right?). My parents’ subsequent divorce mystified me briefly as a child, but as a reasonably self-aware adult it has become abundantly clear to me that thinking about really important stuff without doing really important stuff = reasonable grounds for divorce.
By the way, all this meandering talk is meant to illustrate how easy is to make excuses for our own shortcomings. See how I just did that? I was born that way, my Dad taught me this, it’s what I’ve always done and I’ve made it this far. All great reasons, but none a great excuse. Very few things are great excuses. We mostly have a lot of reasons we do (or don’t do) things and a sense of entitlement about having made said choices.
When it comes to my writing, I am a “pantser” because it’s comfortable. It’s a better fit with my natural thought processes. It makes me feel like I am riding the Creative Dream Stallion in my brain to The Land of Amazing Ideas. Which maybe I am, but the sad news is we’ll take twice as long to get there because I won’t have the directions or any horse food and we’re gonna have to stop. And you know who will have helped me out along the way? A plotter. Or two.
My June 8th resolution is to try to be a bit more organized with my writing. I’m a real author now, after all. There’s a book to prove it. I’ve got this blog and a host of other social media, including a Twitter account (@AuthorLE), a Pinterest account, and a Facebook page, all of which are “necessary” according to the author advice I’ve been given from all directions. The problem is, they wind up being an incredible time suck. (Especially Pinterest. I won’t tell you how many secret boards I have of as-yet-unwritten novels.)
I have a few things in the works (no, really – the next book is in my editor’s hands as we speak) but I need to get my act together and soon. I am a poster child for the necessity of better time-management skills.
Never has this been more apparent than this weekend, when I spent two full days with a girlfriend of mine who is a Type A queen. She home-schools all three of her genius children and as such has two large rooms of her house devoted to their curriculum and projects. She was up at 6:30 a.m. doing effing Shaun T (it’s Sunday, bitch, sleep in for God’s sake) and then fed us a nutritious breakfast that included U-pick strawberries. I mean, seriously. I’m surprised she lets me in her house.
In fact, I think she may invite me as a cautionary tale for her children: “Look, kids, you see that sad bit of business in the ‘Sunday Funday’ t-shirt who just rolled out of bed at 9:00? Feel bad for her, because not only doesn’t she know how many rivers are in Ghana, she also has more works in progress than you kids have completed since Tuesday. Isn’t it sad how the less fortunate live?”
I’m only sort of kidding.
I will never be a Type A personality. I don’t have it in me, and you can call that either a reason or an excuse but you can bet your life on it. It will never happen. I don’t aspire to it. I do, however, aspire to a life as a writer that feels good to me in all the ways I can control, because the act of writing (or any other creative process) is fraught with self-doubt and other demons. I need to preserve my energy for battling those baddies instead of investing it in those pesky oh-I-missed-a-contest-deadline-because-I-fucked-around-too-much-on-Pinterest moments. (That would be a great example of Man vs. Self, for you aspiring writers.)
Today I will commit to doing one thing in preparation for tomorrow that will make my life a little easier. Since I plan to mainline many episodes of “Orange is the New Black” tonight (thereby foiling any plans to get to bed early), I think my preparation will be to work an extra hour on my book this afternoon instead of pinning.
It ain’t much, but it’s a start.
To baby steps,