Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Writer's Wednesday - Working Smart

Considering that I'm writing a blog post right now, this might strike some readers as slightly ironic. Though I'm betting our author readers are going to be nodding their heads as I say those oft-spoken words..."I'm working offline"...

One of my new year's determinations (because for some reason the word "resolution" just doesn't do it for me) is to work smarter, not harder. My husband is pretty good at this actually. I suppose it is easier for him now, he is a one man show so when at work, while he has phone and e-mail going, he doesn't have people popping in and out of his office to chat, or a lunchroom to escape to. He works his hours and they are mostly very productive.

And so even as I write this blog, I'm saying what we all know is true - the internet is a MAJOR distraction and procrastination tool. And some of the time it's not that big of a deal. You glean useful information from that surfing and google alerts. You make all sorts of networking contacts, you find the perfect casting and song for your new book, yada yada. Meanwhile, writing time seems shorter and shorter.

I have some goals this year and to accomplish them I'm going to have to work smarter. To me that doesn't mean disappearing from cyber space. I don't want to do that at all. What it means is, structuring my online time and my writing time and KEEPING THEM SEPARATE.

This is the key. I know this works because before Christmas I had to do it when I was working on revisions. I took a "warm-up" time to read e-mail and answer what I had to. Then unless it was my editor or critique partner or husband (the big three) I ignored my e-mail and did not open Explorer. Short of disconnecting completely, I left the internet alone.

At lunchtime I'd have a quick check of things, and then it was back to the business of writing.

And guess what. Nothing fell by the wayside, and boy did I get a lot accomplished. Promo stuff, blogging, all of that - happened in my allotted time before 9 a.m., at lunch time, or if I had to, for a brief amount of time after dinner (as I am doing at this very minute).

I am not sure if I'll work this way every day from here on in, but with a couple of crazy deadlines and other projects on the go for 09, I think it's worth a shot for more than just crisis management. It's all about allotting time and not letting distractions take over. After all, all work and no play is no fun at all. But ultimately, it's far more satisfying to accomplish what you set out to do. It keeps the editor happy as well. :-)

So now I'm curious - what are your working smart, not hard strategies?

Donna's latest release is The Rancher's Runaway Princess, out in Australia and New Zealand this month. Otherwise she was never here - she's working on her next Larch Valley book for Romance.


  1. You're so right - the Internet can be a real time waster, as well as a blessing. Restricting on-line time is the only way. A kitchen timer helps me keep track of time spent surfing. I used to have another really bad timewasting habit, too - on screen solitaire -but I got my o/h to disable that!

  2. LOL Christina - and you know what else? I'll be ONline today because I'm participating in a Harlequin Romance promo. But lately I've really begun to realize that I'm spending wayyy too much time aimlessly surfing when I could be doing other hanging out with the fam and reading from my tbr which has grown to gargantuan proportions! (Not to mention that writing thing)

  3. I also use a timer to stay on track. I find one hour blocks work well for me when I'm writing.

    I totally agree with the internet thing. Some days I get into a loop of checking my email, then my FB, then some blogs, then back to email, and around and around. Before I know it, my morning is almost gone.

    One thing I did do is cut down on my blog reading. My list of must read blogs kept growing, which of course took more and more time away from my actual writing. And you know -- most of them I don't miss. I've also gone no email on a lot of my loops, which has helped.

    Anyway, great entry, Donna! :-)

  4. Absolutely. Donna - the net is such a time-stealer.

    Since the new PC arrived last week, my connection is slightly different, so I have to physically click on the icon to get my mail (instead of my PC beeping and flashing up a message to say I'd had an email from xyz). This means I don't get distracted by incoming mail - and I'm less likely to mess about, chatting on email.

    A timer works for me, too. I also use it the other way: ten minutes for Scrabble Burst, and I'm strict with it, because otherwise my "limbering up" takes a big chunk out of my day!