As a writer, or someone in the writing industry, finding the time to get it all done can often seem impossible. What with a day job, family, social commitments, eating right, cleaning house, doing groceries… Sometimes, I feel it’s a miracle I manage to enjoy a cheeky glass of red, let alone write or edit a manuscript!
When I first started in publishing, I was a Yes Man. Every opportunity seemed too good to pass up. Soon, I’d combined what had been two full-time jobs into one full-time job, editing and marketing within my 40-hour-week. I thought it would be a struggle, but I did it. And, guess what? I did it well.
Then I decided to write. I wrote two manuscripts, beta read for friends and started two blogs, one personal and one group (Aussie Owned and Read). Because even though I was doing two full-time jobs and writing, beta reading and all the other general stuff one associates with living, there were still a few hours in the day, right?
Another thing I had time for was to work for small press Entranced Publishing in marketing and to start my own freelance fiction editing business. I managed to squeeze both these extra things in around all my other existing commitments.
Which taught me two very clear things:
It’s not about FINDING the time, like time is some mystical creature hiding in my garden I can just stumble upon one day (and believe me, it’s possible weird creatures COULD be hiding in my garden).
It’s about MAKING the time, despite adversity.
It’s about prioritising: working out what needs to be done first, and knowing how far you can push things.
It’s about working smarter: I’m at my most technically proficient in the morning and most creative at night, so I’ll prioritise tasks accordingly. And yes, there’s a possibility my evening creativity could have something to do with wine, but that’s beside the point.
It’s about using what you have: I’ve stopped driving the two hours to work and started catching the train so I can tap away on my laptop, schedule blog posts, work on edits and read. Or, occasionally, sleep (no laptop required).
It’s about knowing your release: I’m not the healthiest person in the world (she says, typing around the McDonald’s crumbs that have spilt on the precariously balanced iPad). What I am, though, is a lover of exercise. And, more than exercise, I love my puppies. I start each day with my two dogs and a jog to get my head in the right space for work and, if I find myself burnt out or frustrated during the day, I’ll take an extra walk. Release is everything. And yes, much to the dog’s delight, some days the walks are more plentiful than the work. Sometimes, it’s a necessity.
It’s about saying no: I have a confession to make: I’m not great at the ‘N’ word. I enjoy working, socialising and doing pretty much everything I can in the time I have.
Recently, though, I’ve started to say no. At first it was just to meeting my sister for dinner one day. Then it was to beta reading a friend’s manuscript. Then I (gasp!) even said no to a project at work, getting my assistant to do it instead.
It still feels weird, the “N” word catching in my throat but I know I need to, every now and then. At the age of almost-30, I’m finally realised I can’t make time for everything.
Some things just aren’t worth finding that creature in the garden for.