Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Time To Write

This week I explored some notions about time and writing and what follows are a compendium of my thoughts:

  • We all have 168 hours each week to work with.
  • Time spent at the office during the work week including hour allocated for lunch is 45 hours.
  • Allocating 8 hours a day for sleep eats up another 56 hours.
Those are pretty much fixed expenditures of time. I could be a little more precise by throwing in travel time to and from work but leaving this as it is, the leaves 67 hours for all that other stuff,  [family time, travel, recreation, doctor appointments, grocery shopping, cleaning, shopping, lawn care, writing and so on...

There is a lot of stuff to eat up that remaining 67 hours. As a writer I have to figure out how and when to carve out time and then to make sure that allocated time is optimally used.  I've thought about the amount of remaining time and decided that I should schedule about 10% (rounding up to 7 hours)  of the remaining time for writing. It seems like a lot on one hand and yet it really not quite so much on the other. For example, I I am accustomed to writing often in 30 minute segments then I can think of it as a hour a day for seven days and it them seems like a lot. Now there are plenty of times that I buckle down and write for more then an hour at a time, working on new stuff and rewrites.  But that is not a daily occurrence and more likely then not to happen on a weekend. So a full hour every day then seems like a lot. On the other hand, if you think of your writing as a career/avocation then it hardly seems like much - 7 hours a week.

Another consideration is are we talking about writing or everything including writing related. If I start adding in the latter then we suddenly are talking about a lot of other things that could encroach upon that 7 hours. For example:
  • Submitting work
  • Organizing material in a retrievable fashion / backing up, etc.
  • Reading (all writers need to be reading)
  • Researching topics
  • Researching markets
  • Networking
  • Attending events for peers and giving readings of your own work.
All of the above things are what I tend to refer to as administrative functions of a writer. They are not writing but they are ever bit a part of the process unless you just plan to write and stash your work in that third drawer of your dresser that you don't use for anything else because you have to stoop down to use it.

For now I have decided to embrace the 7 hour plan for a while and see how it works for me. I have yet to decide how much of that I will allow to allocate for writing related tasks. Realizing anything that comes out of time not a part of the 7 hours is essentially reducing the remaining 60 hours left after sleep and work.  These things have to be done but perhaps with a balance of not taking away too much from writing or remaining unallocated time.

I've decided that I need to do my best to elimination of distractions from the specific periods that I write. Some of those I can control and some are less easily effectuated but I need to try none the less.
For example - I can't stop to check my email or post on face book. I should park my cell during this time. TV off. Maybe add one of my writing play lists to the room to help reinforce what I am doing and as a way others entering may realize what I am doing at that specific time.

Getting 7 hours in would allow for example to take a night off to do something else and adding that extra hour to the weekend so I don't end up staying up late one night to get in an hour if we've been out for the evening. It allows for some flexibility with the weekend hours.

This is what my approach will be for the immediate future and I will address how is is or isn't working at 2 weeks and 4 weeks and make adjustments if necessary.

So how do you spend and allocate your writing time?


runnerRalph said...

I have NEVER been good at sticking to allocated time, unless there's money on the table. But i've known people who are able to do it and accomplish a lot. I'd like to hear how this works out for you.

Michael A. Wells said...

RR - another poet working with me in the past challenged me to explore best times and work for a little more structure in my writing. I've tried from time to time to adject to different approches. I'd like to be able to pick the most optimum time for me to write and do that ever day but that is not possible so the next best thing is to set some definate time goals and be flexable enought to make sure I fine a way to get that amount of time in a week.

I will be blogging about how this is working out in the future.