This week’s topic is one that I suggested: “Are you a morning person, or are you a night owl?”
I asked this because many of my author friends have other lives – they’re moms, spouses, and members of the workforce – so they don’t spend the majority of their days writing. Some write after the kids are in bed and the chores are done. Others get up early to get their words in before the rest of the household arises. So I wanted to know how others cope with the endless obligations we face as authors who must write, promote, and keep up with the other details of our lives.
I admit to burning the candle at both ends. When I have something that needs to be finished the next day, I tend to stay awake until it’s done. And if I have to be somewhere in the morning, I wake up long before the alarm goes off. Most of the time, I get less sleep than the experts say I should. I do tend to make up for it on “free days” when I sleep in a bit longer or take a nap. But that happens once every other week or so.
Part of my problem is that I’m very easily distracted and end up wasting a lot of time. When I wake up early, I like to check emails, and if the weather is good, I’ll put on my shoes and walk for half an hour. Then I’ll start my work for the day. Lately I’ve had morning appointments and I have to be somewhere by 9, which means that writing and household chores get put off until afternoon or evening. Those are the days that very little gets done at home.
Those who know me well have seen my tendency to procrastinate when it comes to things I SHOULD do – housework, grading papers, editing, practicing my music, etc. I would much rather do other things, like scrapbooking, sewing, reading, and writing. In order to get things done, I’ve learned to attack the stuff I need to do and reward myself with the pleasurable stuff. For example, I’ll tell myself I need to grade 20 essays, so I’ll allow myself to sew for half an hour for every five essays I’ve read and graded. Unfortunately, I’ll also put off returning to that task by snacking, checking emails, running errands, and even (horrors!) cleaning out a drawer! So those 20 essays might take me a total of two hours to read, but with all the other stuff thrown in, I’ve invested about five or six hours. And since my list of SHOULD DO tasks is quite long, this process means that I’m spending all day trying to accomplish what others can do in less than half the time.
I’ve mentioned before my penchant for making To Do lists. I usually try to create those either before I go to bed, or just after I get up. These are the things that MUST be finished that day – or at least in the coming week. When I forget to make a list, I tend to waste a lot more time. Maybe someday I’ll figure out a better way. Or maybe I’ll slow down a bit. The university is going to discontinue offering the class I teach after next year, so I may have a little extra time. Hopefully, I won’t fill it with a new hobby.