It’s just a matter of time

As a small child I read a book – I think it was Cheaper by the Dozen – in which the father of the children was a time and motion specialist. I remember the book described in vivid detail how he saved time in the bath with his time-and-motion-optimised bathing routine. The idea galvanised my young imagination and became a minor obsession I still pursue to this day. (Yes, I did apply his bathing routine and yes, I am the world record holder for speediest showers ever).

The magic of time and motion is that it maximises the time you have to spend on important things, by making the necessary things as efficient as possible.

Aspiring to be a writer means being a time management ninja. There are 168 hours in a week. Unless you are very lucky, you’re working to earn a living. That’s 8 hours a day, 5 days a week taken care of. Plus travel time. Then there’s sleep: recommended at another 8 hours per night. It seems I’m not the only writer who struggles with insomnia, which helps add a few extra hours back in but then there’s still all the other stuff: shopping, cleaning the house (I keep this one to a bare minimum), spending time with family and friends. If you can carve 2 hours out of every day (as I try to) to work on your writing, it’s a major achievement (as is trying not to think about that thing where it takes 10,000 hours to achieve excellence too much).

But then how do you spend it? There’s research to do. Plotting. Actual honest to goodness sitting at your desk churning out story. Reading it. Reading other stuff so you learn what’s good and what’s not. Editing. Proof-reading. Re-structuring. Writing new bits. The tasks are never ending – and that’s just one part of the job.

Yesterday I attended a Qld Writers’ Centre panel on Publishers and Agents and I was reminded how important it is to get your writing out in the world. I can’t pretend I haven’t heard it before, and its common sense anyway. Of course a writer that’s has won awards will get more attention than one without. Of course a writer who’s built themselves an audience is more valuable than one without. I’m just not sure how I can find time to read literary journals, get a sense of their audience and style, pitch pieces, write pieces, edit pieces and polish submission AND do another draft of my novel.

Something’s gotta give….


Read about what else I learned yesterday in How to get noticed (in a good way).

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