Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Time Management

I've been doing my best to manage the split between work, family, and writing. I think I'm making progress. This is the routine:

- Wake up really early, between 5am and 6am. This morning I woke up around 5:30 but stayed in bed until my alarm went off at 6am because I knew that coffee wouldn't be ready. I'm stubborn that way. I am not a morning person unless I force myself.

- Hit the computer. Check email and the weather while sipping coffee and letting my eyes adjust to the light. This is the Danger Zone of Potential Distraction, and sometimes I forego it and leap right into my manuscript for FATE'S GUARDIAN.

- Write until 8am, refilling coffee cup frequently. The IV drip is still on backorder.

- I work from home, so when eight o'clock rolls around I save my work and rotate my chair ninety degrees counter-clockwise and hit the other laptop.

- Work all day. Run or exercise around lunchtime, shower, eat and get back to work.

- After work, spend time with the family and get dinner ready. I worked in restaurants for many years so I'm the resident chef.

- Tell the kids to get their pajamas on seven thousand times. If the tub is also involved, then the count doubles. My firstborn is a better listener and usually complies after the initial request, but my other son (who turned five yesterday!) needs the extra goading.

- Talk to my wife, sip wine, and work on the manuscript for EARTH'S END. Thankfully TV season is in a lull (LOST, DEXTER, and AMERICAN IDOL are the primary distractions; WEEDS is losing my interest, it's water-skiing toward the shark but hasn't officially jumped it yet).

- Go to bed.

- Rinse and repeat.

This morning I hit 20,000 words in my re-write of FATE'S GUARDIAN. My goal is 80,000, so I'm a quarter of the way through. I really like this version of it. As I read back and reflect on the prior drafts, I think it's amazing how much I have grown as a writer.

I swear to you I will find success if it doesn't find me first.


Not The Rockefellers said...

Isn't it amazing when you start to notice your growth in your writing.

I am just beginning to see that in myself.

Best of Luck!

Peace - Rene

Scott said...

I envy the work at home part, although I don't know if I'd have as much discipline as you.

My main writing time lately has been on lunch hours at work. I tried doing the very early morning thing and it just didn't work. I was a zombie by 8 p.m.

I steal away to the coffee shop when I can. But what I'm doing now is manageable and I actually feel like I'm progressing nicely instead of failing. It's a big difference in the old mind set.

I guess I'm a little shocked that you are doing a complete rewrite of your novel. When I'm thinking about a second or third draft, I'm thinking you rewrite certain sections, edit, etc... I'm I looking at this the wrong way or does everyone just have their own editing style?

Laurel said...

We're cutting cable. It's a huge time suck and most of what we actually enjoy watching is on the internet anyway so we'll just hook up internet to the TV and make an active decision to watch something we like instead of waste 2 hours surfing the menu feature and watching yet another home improvement show by default.

Scott said...

Time management is often the bane of my existence.

I normally write in the evenings after dinner. I set aside an hour, sometimes more most nights. I'd write in the morning, but I'm up at 5:30 now to excercise, and I just don't feel like getting up at 4 AM!

Great progress! Keep up the good work.

jbchicoine said...

I’m also curious about the rewrite for FATE'S GUARDIAN. Would you mind sharing the reason why you decided to ‘start from scratch’ (for lack of a better term—obviously it’s not starting from scratch).

Was it too long? too wordy? the style not fitting the story? holes in the plot?, did you change the POV? or just what, exactly. Did you come up with your reasons on your own, or was it at someone’s suggestion?

I’m so curious about your decision making process here; I’m trying to make that decision on my first novel.

Rick Daley said...

Hanging out at the airport. I love Columbus because there is free WiFi here.

Rene- I first noticed it in the final 30,000 word of my first draft.

Scott- Per my comment above, the first 90,000 words of my first draft were sub par. I was developing the story and backstory as i wrote, and the result wasn't as much bad writing as it was sloppy story telling. I knew where it was going, but I had no idea of the stops it would make along the way. The decision to re-write was very difficult, but now I wish I would have done it sooner. Whittling away at revisions will fix typos and some sentence structure, but re-telling the story with a renewed focus is such an improvement I can't believe I was trying to shop around the old draft.

Laurel- Good call. In THE WALL, Roger Waters said "I got thirteen channels of shit of the TV to choose from." Cable only boosted the channel count, not the quality.

Scott- Morning or evening, I think the important part is finding that right time and stiocking to it. Your mind will begin to expect it, and for me the writing is better because I'm mentally prepared for it.

That's why I always work on Fate's Guardian in the am and Earth's End in the pm. For some reason, it provides a great deal of clarity in my thought. I am a creature of habit.

Calling for boarding, time to go...

Rick Daley said...

JB- real quick...I queried Nathan Bransford and he requested a partial but ultimately declined the full. he said I have a clever premise and I'm a talented writer, but the narrativce was too sprawling for him to connect to it. I asked for clarification on "too sprawling" and his advice was to cut the unneseccary exposition and find the heart of the story. When I re-read after that, I realized that to do that it would be easier to re-write than to try to force the changes into the manuscript.

If you'd like, I'd be happy to send you the 50 pages I sent him and the new first 50 and you'll be able to see the difference.

~Aimee Maher said...

"I swear to you I will find success if it doesn't find me first."

I like that. Most people don't finish the first book/. Of the ones that do, even fewer write another one. The people that stick it out and never give up will find success. I'm a firm believer in that. It takes some people 20 years, but it happens.

jbchicoine said...

Based on the premise that it’s easier for me to analyze someone else’s work, and then apply what I’ve learned to my own, I would love to compare your 50 page versions. My email address is in my profile, whenever you get around to it. Thanks for the offer.

MattDel said...


I'd be interested in seeing those differences too if you're willing, being that I'm currently working on a rewrite of a fantasy novel (first volume in a trilogy) that I tried to cut down the focus on.

Positive examples are always helpful.

P.S. Email's in profile as well.

scott g.f. bailey said...

Rick: You know me, I'm a big fan of methodology. If I hadn't found a daily rhythm of work/write, I would never have finished the first draft of my novel, nor finished any of the revisions (goodness, I'm on something like draft #6 now).

Nathan gave you good advice. I think the biggest problem writers have is focus, but once you've found "the heart of the story," clarity becomes much easier.

Keep writing! I'm going to email you at some point, but I'm too busy now. I suck.

Davin Malasarn said...

"Tell the kids to get their pajamas on seven thousand times. If the tub is also involved, then the count doubles."

I'm not an expert on time-saving tips but...

Seriously, this was an interesting post. I'm glad you're making progress! Routines work well for me, but it's rare that I can get into one that actually fits in 24 hours.

Laurel said...


I noticed it in the final 20K of mine and then a book I wrote to sort of cleanse my palate before editing. At the time the "cleanser" book was strictly for fun and I truly didn't think it would amount to anything. I haven't filled in the holes in it but honestly when I go back and re-read parts of it the writing quality is markedly better.

I'm also engaged in a monster re-write.

Anita said...

Very admirable. I am nowhere that scheduled.

Laura Martone said...

Wow, Rick. I work from home, too, but I'm nowhere near as organized as you. I'm totally jealous of your ability to adhere to a schedule. Go, you!

As to rewriting my entire novel, I don't know if I could do that. I know it's way too long right now - but I'd rather try one more major edit and see where that gets me, before reassessing. But, hey, man, if you can completely rewrite FG (and you think it's better!), then go for it.

Incidentally, as someone who's already read and compared the two versions of your novel's beginning... I think it was very educational - and I could totally see a difference!

Rick Daley said...

Thanks everyone. And so there is no confusion, I adhere to this strictly, every day.

Ha! Just kidding. Many days I do, but some days, like today, involve a late evening the night before with co-workers, cigars, and wine and the morning routine is somewhat disrupted.

I'm in Chicago on business through Thursday; JB and Matt, I'll send you the MS versions this weekend.

storyqueen said...

I used to make my kids take the longest baths* in the history of the world so I could write. They'd come out all pruned-up and shrivelly......ah, those were the days.

Now, like Scott, I write during lunch if it is during the school year, in the summer, I am the master of my own time....hahahaha!

*They have moved on to the longest showers in the history of the world, at 1:30 a.m. after they finish studying.......ugh.


L. T. Host said...


I feel your pain with the AM distractions. I, too, am easily sucked into the vortex of the internet if I don't crack down right away. It's the only way I get any work done. I tell myself, click that little red X next to reddit, facebook, or whatever, and write!

I'm only successful about 80% of the time.

I too envy the "work at home" part... but I fear I lack the discipline to actually work, from home.

Rick Daley said...

The earlier I start, the less likely the Internet will distract me. If I clear out Google reader an my inbox by the time I go to bed, the morning is much more productive.