Musings on Creativity, Time Management & Productivity

Anyone who knows me, even a little, knows that I am the Queen of Procrastination. No seriously, I am. I will fight you for that title!

Because I’ve met my UK editor several times face-to-face (and occasionally ‘over drinks’ when I become a little more… honest), I have found this fact harder to hide from her than, say, an editor who I don’t see regularly. Editor J has already established that I need a hard deadline in order to get anything done. Woe betide anyone who says something vague like, “Oh, just get it to me sometime during the next couple of months.” This is a surefire way to guarantee you will get it right at the very end of those two months. But still within deadline, of course!


I am quickly learning to trick my brain into thinking things are due sooner than they actually are. For example, The Stone Demon is technically not due until mid-January. However, Editor B has made it known that Flux will “love me forever” if I can get it turned in before Christmas. I have therefore put a mid-December deadline down on my calendar, and am trying very hard to forget I really have another month if I need it. Um… oh, wait… ;)


I was talking to a Twitter pal the other day about making a living as a writer, and I said that – very broadly speaking – you either need that One Big Deal or you have to write lots of different things. Clearly, in my career so far I’m taking Option 2! But I am not unhappy about this. I get bored very easily (I’m a Gemini, this explains a lot about me), so it’s nice to have plenty of variety in the projects I work on.

Would I turn down the One Big Deal? Of course not! But I would probably keep working on different things, across different genres and media, wherever possible. I think that’s the way I work best. Or at least, it keeps me happy to try new things and work on both short and long projects.


And yet… I am still struggling with time management and productivity, despite the multiple deadlines banging at my door. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not struggling to the extent that I’m in danger of missing deadlines. I don’t think my pride will ever allow that, even if it means no sleep and existing on a caffeine drip.

My recent post, wherein I tried to change up my routine and split my day into two halves (one half spent on new writing/first draft stuff and the other focusing on revisions/edits), has already bitten the dust. Not, I hasten to add, because I totally and utterly failed at it. The routine was actually going okay, although I was definitely not starting as early as 9am. Heh. I tended more toward an afternoon session of work and then a late evening session. Still, I can’t say that the Quantum Writing experiment was a total success. I did find myself feeling quite scattered, trying to do more than one ‘writing thing’ in the same day – despite the long break between work sessions. We’ve all probably heard of the concept of Flow, and I am beginning to think I might need more of that than I used to believe.

But I’ve had to put that experiment on hold because of a genuinely Sekrit Project that I couldn’t possibly turn down! (I cannot speak of the Sekrit Project yet, because for once it’s actually someone else saying I must keep it secret. I will spill the beans as soon as I can – as long as I don’t screw up said Sekrit Project so badly that I am removed from it, forthwith.) I am no longer doing CampNaNo (sorry, fellow campers!), because I have to put first draft writing on TSD aside for a couple of weeks.


So, I’m trying something new with productivity and work process. Again. I am going to try to focus on one thing at a time, and see if that helps me to actually finish things more quickly.

I’ve found some of these resources helpful:

Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work

Getting Creative Things Done

Seven Productivity Tips For People That Hate GTD

Time Management for Creative People
(This last one is a free e-book by Mark McGuinness and I highly recommend it. I also like his blog, Wishful Thinking, which is about how creativity and business fit together.)

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24 Responses to Musings on Creativity, Time Management & Productivity

  1. Kate says:

    Haha, you’re a Gemini. <3

  2. the_themiscyran says:

    I may have to thumb-wrestle you for that title, oh self-appointed Queen! :)

  3. Tegan Allen says:

    Great post!

    If you ever find a way to beat Bad Old Procrastination, you must tell us at once! If I am ever to get published, I must first stop chasing projects and then dropping them when they stop being fun, and indeed I must work to some timescale other than “at some point in my life…”. I mean, who wants all the hassle of kicking off a writing career when their 90? ;-)

    • Kaz says:

      Heh. ;)

      But seriously, it’s true that finishing things is The True Secret of Writing Success. Or at least, it’s the first major step on that journey. It’s really tough, though, to keep at it when you feel your excitement flag.

      I would also say (not that you asked me for advice!), that if you’re finding something is no longer ‘fun’ – as in, the project ITSELF – then you might have taken a wrong turn with it. Sometimes it can help to go back and re-read everything to see if you can figure out where that might have happened.

  4. Dan-Phi says:

    You started writing this on Monday and just got around to posting it, didn’t you.

  5. Isabel says:

    Multitasking is difficult — good luck on your new method, and on Sekrit Project! Can’t wait to hear more about that. :)

    You’re Gemini! I’m Cancer. :) I honestly never knew what that meant in terms of my personality, but I just looked it up and it’s actually an almost perfect fit! http://www.gotohoroscope.com/cancer-meanings.html
    It even says that it is “very easy for them to become excellent artists, writers, composers, or musicians.” Writers! Yayy!! :D

  6. Tez Miller says:

    However, Editor B has made it known that Flux will “love me forever” if I can get it turned in before Christmas. I have therefore put a mid-December deadline down on my calendar, and am trying very hard to forget I really have another month if I need it. Um… oh, wait… ;)

    All depends on whether you need to be “loved forever” or not – I think you do ;-)

  7. Tiffany says:

    You are such a tease with all Teh Seekrit! :P

    It’s funny–I would guess that most people would find me a great procrastinator. It takes me forever to get something in, mostly b/c I think nerves/perfectionism wring me out right until the deadline. I try to meet all of them but lately lots of things have been forcing me not to and I just feel horrible about it. I think the secret for me has to be less Internet time, which is really, really hard. Good for you for continuing to try techniques until you find the one that works for you!

    xoxo

    • Kaz says:

      SEKRITS. I has them. ;)

      I am the same, with the nerves and fear of failure the main cause of my procrastination.

      *sigh* I keep trying, though. I hope we BOTH figure something out.
      Kxx

  8. I like the multiple deals way of making it as a writer, because for us readers that means you have more books coming out more often :D :D

  9. Cassia Pabis says:

    I have to admit, of all the authors I read blogs on, I identify with you the most. While I would not wish for your title, I am a multitasker with such limited focus sometimes that I often wonder if I have ADHD. I am in the process of writing four books (one is actually a rewrite) while working full time (40 hours a week), and taking care of twin four-year-olds as a single mom. In fact, while I was typing this, I had to stop and put them on a project to get some play dishes and food and something to serve as a menu to play “Restaurant” just so I can finish typing in relative quiet. I laugh often when Gena Showalter claims the only reason she has so many books out is because she had OCD and focuses entirely on the story she intends to write at the time. I wish I could have that kind of focus, but I also find that because of the multitasker in me, I would become very bored working on a single project at a time, too. On my web browser right now, I have my blog dashboard, a search engine, two author blogs, and a Yahoo Answers link up in the tabs. So, I am reading up on other writers blogs, researching for a book, and checking on anything new on my blog comments and other blogs I am following while I am typing this. Whew! It took me a half hour to write this and I type 77 wpm. Geez! Time-consuming!

    • Kaz says:

      It was so great to hear more about you and your writing, process, etc. You sound BUSY!! Wow… I really wish you all the best with writing around a day job (I have done a lot of that, over the years) – though I don’t have children to care for.

  10. Carolin says:

    Heeee. Good luck with your sekrit project. I’m excited for a possible reveal.

    Also, thank you for the links to those posts. I love reading up on motivation/creativity/etc. :)

  11. Firewolf says:

    Focusing on one project is really hard. That being said, I never finished a thing until I managed to focus on one at a time. LOL.

    Good luck!!!

    Julie

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