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Monday, June 13, 2016

Adapting, Adjusting and #Amwriting(darnit)!

RESTARTING THE ENGINES -- 100 DAYS INTO MY NEW LIFE

So I'm now more than three months (3 mos!) into being a retired military budget director, and I've officially hung out a new shingle that says "Full-Time Author." (Woot!) It's been a while since I've done a recap on where I am career-wise, and this seems like a good time for an update.

Despite my occasional (occasional?) grumblings over the time gouge of my day job, the lengthy commute, the uh...challenges of the position--especially the missing month of August over the last 21 years--I have to admit it was a great job that carried some truly wonderful perks, and I had the pleasure of working with a really "effective team."

But in all honesty, the transition to working from home hasn't been as much of a breeze as I thought it was going to be. Since today is Monday the 13th (always a far worse day for me than Friday the 13th), I'm going to talk about the dark side of having a lot of time on my hands.

SO I'VE GAINED 50+ HOURS A WEEK. WHERE IS IT ALL GOING?

The paradox of time management is that the more time you have, the less you tend to manage it. I get easily distracted by everything. Oh, look. NASA's Unexplained Files. Shiny! Ohhhh, I forgot I recorded Space's Deepest Secrets. And it's a show about Dark Energy. Gotta watch this! Research, you know. But firrrrst, I think I really, really need to see The Martian again. It's been a whole week since I last viewed it. *Eyes pile of laundry bursting out of laundry basket with dismay.* *Looks at sunny, sunny day outside on the patio.* *Quirks one eyebrow.* *Looks at laundry again.*

You see my dilemmas?

I'm enjoying all this "time" so much that the "management" part is slipping through my fingers.

It's like I'm a kid who's suddenly free of her very strict parents and wants to only do all the fun stuff because there's no longer a voice of conscience to guide her.

Granted, it hasn't been all fun and games. A "two to three day" tile job turned into a 30-day pull-our-hair-out ordeal before it was completed. That ended up cancelling much of my productive time in March as I tried to live my life confined to an extremely furniture-crammed master bedroom. To channel Mark Watney, "That was even worse than it sounds, so let's not talk about that, ever again."

I also had a hefty time investment into getting the SFR Brigade Portals project off the ground, along with authors Pauline Baird Jones, Veronica Scott, and another 37 of Science Fiction Romance's finest. (For the curious, that's some exciting new free offerings for readers and you can investigate it further on the Portals website.)

That included designing a dedicated Portals site, submission of the first chapter of Inherit the Stars which went into Portals Volume One, along with first chapters by Donna and Greta. Pippa will have a chapter in Volume Three and Sharon in Volume Four.

So that took up a good chunk out of April and May.

Then, in late May, we made a trip to Fredericksburg, Texas (neat little town!) to pick up the newest member of our household, Luna.

She's also a miniature longhaired dachshund, like my writing buddy, Katrina. In fact, Katrina came from the same breeder and she's (in human terms), Luna's aunt. But she's also been an Only Dachshund for many years who at first wasn't thrilled about having to share me, or her "Writing Buddy" title with this little encroacher.

She's now warming up to the idea that having a rellie around to hang with maybe isn't so bad, after all.

I also made a small time investment that paid off in a big way, when I entered Inherit the Stars in the Carolyn Readers Choice Award. Score! My novel was named the winner of the specialized category. (Riley Moreland broke the official news on the Whiskey With My Book review blog.) The win came with a nice promo ad to appear in the July Romantic Times blog (they've gone all digital--did you hear?) and they also gave me this nifty badge for my blog and website. Ta da!

But, funny thing, none of this gets books written. Does it?

That shingle I hung out awhile back? The one that says "Full-Time Author." I seem to be missing the "Full Time" part.

TIME FOR PLAN B (BUT WAIT....WAS THERE EVER A PLAN A?)

I really did start out with a plan. I had every intent to set some firm goals, making daily log entries in a special planner to help me stay focused on my progress and positive about my accomplishments. After the first twenty days, all the entries sounded like: "packing up boxes so tile can be laid...more packing...still packing...fifteen more boxes packed...still packing...packed some more..." It got really hard to feel all glowy about my achievements when the answer to every question asked was: I packed boxes.

The planner got shelved by about week three.

Now that my existence is no longer about packing, and then unpacking, furniture and boxes, I'm working hard to do some mental re-centering. Discipline seems to be the key word that my chaotic schedule is missing. So, I decided to carve out some exclusive time just for writing. Every day. Ask any fabulously successful author and almost all are going to tell you, "You must write every day. Even if it's only a few hundred words."

So, yeah, fabulously successful authors, I hear you. And I promise to do just that.

Plan B is now imposed:
I do solemnly vow to spend a minimum of thirty hours a week working on one of my writing projects. Not blogging, not reading emails, not Facebooking, not Tweeting, not watching television for "research purposes"...writing and editing!

That still gives me nearly 14 hours a week more available time than I had when I was working.

So...that should be a piece of cake, right? Done deal. Easy peasy!

Yeah. I'll keep you posted on that.

Meanwhile, I gave myself a swift kick in the pants by:
  1. signing the contract for a short story in a fall anthology (you are going to LOVE this anthology--more later)
  2. committing to three more novelette/novella length works--one of which I've already purchased a cover for! and...
  3. forging on with getting The Outer Planets wrapped and delivered to readers.
All by the end of the year. I can do this!

I'll be back with a full progress report in September.

Have a great week!

4 comments:

  1. LOL, Laurie, do I really feel you! The "retirement" transition is much harder than anyone (except maybe the folks at AARP)takes into account. There are SO many distractions, and real life doesn't stop just because you stopped going to your day job. There is a very real time of mental and emotional readjustment that you have to acknowledge and overcome. Then, too, you have to make the switch to thinking of your writing as a job, which, believe me, can take a lot of the fun out of it at first! Set reasonable goals so you can feel success at meeting them. (There's a great article in the RWA magazine this month about "writing chunks" that might help.) And, darn it, go watch those movies if you want to! You're retired!

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  2. Thanks so much, Donna! Glad it's not just me. I'll definitely give that RWA article a read. I've set kind of a crunch schedule, but felt I had to after losing four months of productive time. I HAVE to get some titles kicked out. No ifs, ands or buts about that!

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  3. I was sooo much better organised when I was working. You had to get all your housework done on the weekend and it was done. Now? People like the checkout chick at the supermarket say, "Got any plans for the weekend?" And I say, "When is it?" I find the best I can do is set a writing goal as in word count. If I write 1,500 words a day, that's good. Any more is a bonus.

    But don't forget to enjoy the Ooooh, shiny. That why you retired, after all.

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  4. Thanks, Greta! I think pacing is definitely the key. Sometimes I set too high or too many goals, and then get discouraged when I can't do the impossible. A little progress every day would equal a lot of progress in the long run. I need to look at this differently, I think. And you are SO right about being more organized when I was working. It's really tough to suddenly have no schedule and expect to get more work to the nth done, but that just isn't reality, I've learned.

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