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Ask A Busy Person To Do It

23 Apr

For years I’d dreamed of working part-time so I’d have more time to write. In 2010, I got the chance when I retired from a school district in Oregon, but then decided I wanted to work after I moved to Idaho. I was hired for eighteen hours a week. I worked the eighteen hours in two and a half days. That left two and a half days during the week to write, in addition to the weekend. What could be more perfect than being able to do two things I love?

I could imagine myself up at 6:00 am on my days off, seated at the computer. In reality it meant I could sleep in a little longer and have breakfast at 8:00 or so. Then I’d listen to music, take a leisurely bath, and then fix my hair and face. 10:30 rolls around and I sit down to check my emails, or TV. Lunch time is next, but I tell myself I can write in the afternoon, until I realize I’d better get that shopping done before school starts again.  In the evenings, after dinner, I cuddle up with my husband and watch prime time television.

You know the story, don’t you? If not your week day, then your weekend can look this way. Anyway, I still have a book ready to go every other year, just the same as when I was working full-time. For those of you who want to quit your day job to write, I’m sorry I’m crushing your aspirations.

Jump forward two years or so, and I find that a different school district has an opportunity for me. Five dollars more an hour, you say? More benefits? So I’m back to working full-time until the end of the school year.

After two years off from the fast paced grind, my body is complaining, big time. Backache or arthritis is my constant friend (enemy) as I start the first couple of months. Perhaps I’m getting too old to work, I tell myself. How did I ever get anything done, let alone writing, after working this many hours in the past?

Yet, it is amazing how the body adapts. After two months or so, my back no longer hurts and I find that I can pack my bag a little fuller each day as I lug it from school to school. Further, I’m able to remember what’s needed for the kiddos I work with at all five schools. Now I’m no longer quite so exhausted when I get home and have been busy researching online marketing for my book coming out in June (plug here).

So, as the body adapts to being busier, does it adapt in reverse as well? Or, because we have the extra time, is it a matter of laziness or procrastination? I don’t know, but I’ve learned from a handful of successful authors that writing is a business. Eight to five, butt in chair, or something similar. Probably all of us know successful authors who work full-time, as well.  There is a saying, if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.

For me to crank out a book more often than every other year, I basically need a gun at my back or a time card. But I’ve come to terms with my pace whether full or part-time.  I’m going to worry about something else instead. After all, it’s my journey, and that’s fine with me.

www.maryvine.com

 
 

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18 responses to “Ask A Busy Person To Do It

  1. Janis McCurry

    April 23, 2013 at 7:12 AM

    I agree that you have to chart your own path. I discovered long ago that “sit there and write, even if it’s crap” doesn’t work for me. I think it’s wasteful for my method of writing. If the juices aren’t flowing, I’m not going to sit down and write crap. For me, I have to be “on” and I’m okay with that.

     
    • maryvine

      April 23, 2013 at 2:10 PM

      Janis, that “okay with that” is such an important realization. Inspiration is an important part of successful writing.

       
  2. Judith Keim

    April 23, 2013 at 7:33 AM

    Mary, I think it’s wonderful that you know your own pace for writing and respect it.Authors can get in trouble when they’ve overcommitted themselves to getting books done. It’s hard on them and sometimes hard for their faithful readers to see work that isn’t up to what they expect. I’m pretty organized and like working on writing projects as part of my normal routine. Can’t wait to read one of your books!

     
  3. Corina Mallory

    April 23, 2013 at 7:39 AM

    I can’t remember where I first heard that “tasks expand to fill the time allotted for their completion.” But yeah. That. If I have all day to write a blog post and go to the grocery store and cook a healthy dinner it will take ALL DAY. If I have three hours for those same tasks, the result is pretty much identical. The dinner may be less elaborate, the blog post less thoughtful, but really, not much difference in outcomes. You’d think knowing this little (or very large) truth would be the first step toward effective time management but … I’m still working on figuring out whatever steps 2-8 are. I’m glad work has gotten easier for you. We are an amazingly adaptable species, for good and for ill.

     
    • maryvine

      April 23, 2013 at 2:16 PM

      Corina, your comment is so right on and a good addition to my post. Thanks.

       
  4. Stephanie Berget (@StephanieBerget)

    April 23, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    I love Janis’ post. I’m just the opposite. If I wait for inspiration to strike, I’ll be waiting when the angels come to get me. (And yes, I hope they’re angels. No smirking) When I quit work, I envisioned the same things as you did, Mary. I’m not getting any more done now than when I worked full time. You’ve really hit on a fact of life.

     
    • Janis McCurry

      April 23, 2013 at 10:18 AM

      Not even a tiny smirk?

       
      • maryvine

        April 23, 2013 at 2:11 PM

        Well, I smirked 🙂

         
    • maryvine

      April 23, 2013 at 2:13 PM

      Yes, Steph, sometimes it does come when we sit our butts down and work. Brains are amazing.

       
  5. Peggy Staggs

    April 23, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    The only way I get anything done is to have a set schedule. Work in the morning, appointments in the afternoon and work at night. When my schedule gets messed with my productivity goes down. I’ve got to get back on a schedule. I’m not happy with the amount I’m writing. I should be able to pump out at least two books a year.Now that I have my new employer trained to two nights a week, I should be able to find my way back to the right path.

     
    • maryvine

      April 23, 2013 at 2:17 PM

      Yes, Peggy, you seem to be a good one at scheduling things and getting them done. Two books a year – you are exactly what a big publishing house wants.

       
  6. Jennifer

    April 23, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    I’ve found the busiest times tend to be the most productive for me. I think it’s because it forces me to follow a schedule and I don’t have time to think about it too much.

     
    • maryvine

      April 23, 2013 at 2:19 PM

      Jennifer, I had an author tell me one time that a book she wrote, that people seemed to like the best, was written during a busy and/or hard time in her life.Thanks.

       
  7. Lynn Mapp

    April 23, 2013 at 7:15 PM

    You’re so right. It’s your journey. You’ll get done what you need to get done, and in your time frame.

     
    • maryvine

      April 24, 2013 at 6:22 PM

      I can just hear you telling me that, Lynn.in your special teachers voice.

       
  8. marsharwest

    April 23, 2013 at 9:59 PM

    Well, we’re all in agreement here. You find what works for you, and that might not be the same thing all the time. We are adaptable as Corina stated. When I first retired, I spent an inordinate amount of time sitting on my patio in the mornings reading. I wrote and edited in the afternoon. Didn’t have grands yet. It was all my own time. (Along with grocery shopping and that sort of thing.) I attended a conference and heard a speaker say, if I was serious about writing, I needed to write every day. I realized I’d been lazy. (Lord, I deserved it after the 14 hour days and weekends I’d worked for quite a long time. LOL) But I wasn’t very productive. Now I work on something related to writing every day, emails, blogs,editing, thinking about the next book, etc.
    Mary, I’m like you. I’ll probably never crank out 2 books a year, but what I do will be good. (I think. 🙂 )
    I sat out the other morning. First time in forever. But I was working. Reading som books for the Daphne contest. It was quite fun. Killed two birds as the saying goes.
    I have to sit down and type. Waiting for inspiration might not produce anything. I can always massage the garbage that comes out. And sometimes I’m delightfully surprised at what I find. Thanks for a great post, Mary.

     
    • maryvine

      April 24, 2013 at 6:26 PM

      Thanks, Marsha-I always enjoy your comments.

       

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