Friday, December 02, 2005

Finding Time

I've decided to do a grown-up post today, which may surprise those of you who've begun to think I do nothing but hang around in snow huts. Today's grown-up topic is "Time" and how to make the most of it. I'm no expert but I do have a few tips I thought I'd share with you.

While this is pitched toward those of you who write and need time to do it, I think most of the ideas would work for any hobby/passion that you need to find extra time for.

1. Ditch the t.v.

I can hear the screams of horror right now but you'd be amazed at how much time is sucked up by that small black box. I discovered this by accident when I moved to Japan. Because at first I couldn't understand much on t.v., I just didn't watch it. And time magically appeared out of nowhere.

If you can't ditch the t.v. totally, then be strict with yourself about what you will watch. Have a list of 'must-see' shows and don't allow yourself to deviate from it too much. And if you can, tape the shows (that way, you can skip the ads and save some more time!).

2. Don't wait for the perfect moment in which to write. Use time as it comes, whether it be in hour-long blocks, or ten stolen minutes.
True story: I wrote parts of Desert Warrior (my first published book) on the bus during the rush-hour commute from work. The writing on the page was wonky but it was writing on a page. Transferring those written pages onto the computer can be done anytime, even when it's noisy or you're watching t.v. The important thing is, they're written.

3. Prioritize. For example, if you can survive on macaroni and cheese a couple of nights, do it. If you can live with vacumning once every two weeks instead of once every week, then go for it.
Before you all pounce on me for making generalizations, I will say that your choices will depend on your own life. No one is going to get mad at me if I make cheese on toast three nights in a row. If you have others relying on you, that situation changes. Your priorities are your own. But you must learn to prioritize in some way, shape or form. Maybe you want to ensure everyone in the house has good nutrition. Okay, fine. But perhaps the trade-off is that they don't have a squeaky clean house. Choices no one but you can make, but choices that are there to be made.

4. Be willing to be give up some things.
It is physically impossible for me to work full-time, write full-time and have a full-time social calendar. I'd either be dead or comatose by now. So I'm not as social as I might be otherwise. I still see my friends but I don't accept every invitation. I'm lucky in that I have a circle of friends who understand why I make the choices I do (though they do insist on calling me the "Hermit") which makes this so much easier. If you have friends who don't understand your passion, then try to educate them. And if that doesn't I said, the choices are yours.

5. Know yourself.
Don't set deadlines which are impossible to meet simply because the time isn't there. Doing this just makes you feel bad each time you don't make it. Be honest about the time that you do have.

And then use that time to the best advantage. Sometimes we writers need time to just let the muse go where it will, but to work consistently, you need to discipline yourself. For example, this week I'm editing a manuscript. Until that's done, I shouldn't be starting something else because it'll throw me behind schedule.

Maybe the above points aren't words of wisdom but hopefully, they can be of some help.


Bernita said...

I only vacuum when I know someone's coming to stay.
Other visitors can feel superior about the squalor.
Good advice post.

MicheleKS said...

I haven't vacumed in so long... I only have my DVD player hooked up to my TV (DVD's are my reward for writing), and I'm single so I can cook whatever I want and only do laundry when I absolutely have to. I also have a part-time job that I earn enough with to write more than I ever have.

Jamie Sobrato said...

Excellent advice, Nalini! I do all that stuff--or don't do it, accordingly. ;-)

Long time no talk. How are you?! I just saw your name on Alison Kent's blog and decided to pop over and see what you were up to. Still writing lots of books!

Nalini Singh said...

Bernita - love your attitude about others feeling superior, though I must admit I sometimes give in to the neat freak in me!

Nalini Singh said...

Michele, you're my kinda gal. :) Was the part time job a conscious choice to get more time to write?

Nalini Singh said...

Hi Jamie. Thanks for dropping by (love you pic!). I really enjoy Alison's blog, though I lurk more than I post *g*

Jamie Sobrato said...

I just lurk there too. I don't know why I only lurk...

Jamie Sobrato said...

Oh, and thank you about the photo. It's kind of silly. I do love yours also. Your hair is longer now! But I will not say that you need to update your author photo on your webpage, because people tell me that all the time (due to hair changes) and it drives me nuts. Like, helloooo, yeah, right, it's soooo easy to go out and get a decent photo done!

Nalini Singh said...

Lol! I do actually have a new photo but I'm still humming and harring over it. (Indecisive, me?)

P.S. Maybe we should start a lurkers anonymous club.