Monday, August 20, 2007

Give a Busy Person a Job ...

Computer
Maybe one of you can explain something to me. Why is it that the busier I am, the more I get done? Doesn't it seem like the opposite would be true? Shouldn't the opposite be true?

I have a deadline in less than two weeks, and no, I'm not ready to send the book to my editor yet. I have every intention of getting there, though. I just may run a bit short in the sleep department before I'm through.

A year ago, I agreed to teach an online class this month, which requires that I post two "lectures" every week and answer questions as they arise. There have been lots of questions this month, and I'm not the kind of teacher who answers briefly. I want to make sure I've explained myself clearly, so I tend .... I won't say I tend to ramble, but I do try to be thorough.


I've had some family issues to deal with. Nothing, thank God, having to do with my kids or the Incredible Miss Abigail, but still troublesome, and they've led to more phone calls in a day than I'm used to taking while I'm supposed to be working.

Two weeks ago, the galley proofs for PEPPERMINT TWISTED arrived on my doorstep with instructions to read the proofs carefully, check for typesetting errors, and return the package to my editor in NYC by last Friday.

I'm heavily involved in the administration of a non-profit organization, and the president is out of town this week, which means that in my spare time I've been drafting statements and approving things I generally don't get involved with on a daily basis.

So why is my writing humming along so well? Why can I write two chapters a day without really breaking a sweat (now that the cooler in my house is fixed and the temperature no longer hovers near 100 inside.) Why do I get so much more done when I have a lot to do?

This isn't the first time I've noticed this phenomenon at work. Years ago, while working at the Evil Day Job 50-60 hours a week, I consistently wrote 3-4 books every year. I was one of the most prolific authors I knew. I wrote through everything that came my way -- family issues, surgeries, moving, kid troubles -- and I never seem to have any real trouble getting a book done. That's not to say that my manuscripts always arrived sharp and crisp on the morning of my deadline, but I wasn't ever far off.

Then (joy of joys) I quit the Evil Day Job to write full time, and what happened? I suddenly developed "issues" that had never plagued me before. With all the time in the world to write, I suddenly found myself spending less and less time at it. A thousand excuses presented themselves every day and, unlike the excuses that came my way when I worked the EDJ, these suddenly seemed Too Important to Ignore.

Don't get me wrong ... I haven't been a complete slug since I quit the EDJ and became a fulltime writer. Every so often, a month like this one comes along and nudges me back on track. But what I don't understand is why it's so damn easy to slide off track again, and why I never feel myself sliding until I'm avoiding my work in progress to catalog my DVDs -- again.

1 comment:

forgetfulone said...

You're so right! As a teacher, if you do your job right, they ask you to do more! Same thing with volunteering. I guess we should say no or play dumb.