I must admit that I love a balanced approached to time management. But I didn’t always. In the past (and no so distant past–we are talking like 3.5 years ago), whenever I had a publishing deadline I used to stay up all night long or more. Yes, on more than one occasion I stayed up two nights in a row. And did write a lot during those marathons? Well, yes.
However, higher productivity doesn’t necessarily lead to better writing, although it should lead to more writing.
But do all super successful authors do this? Well, no. Just like writing there is no one formula for living the life of a writer. For example, Louis Sachar writes for one or two hours a day. The rest of the day he lives. The same with Kate DiCamillo. Both authors feel strongly about only writing for a bit in the morning and then living their life.
On the other end of the spectrum, J.K. Rowling has said she was writing Harry Potter for about 10-12 hours a day, for days on end, pretty much not doing that much else. Just another choice, really.
And there’s the middle ground–where you write very steadily, and then as you near a deadline, you temporarily become a writing machine. Just another choice.
So my recommendation is to make a choice and be aware of what you are doing. But it is far too easy to go to the other end of the spectrum and want to be writer. Read like a writer, think like a writer, go to conferences and be inspired by published authors and, ahem, never actually write because you are so so busy. Perhaps, you have lots of hobbies, caregiving responsibilities, householding duties, many kids to juggle, an intense job or maybe you do lots of volunteering. That’s all fine.
Just be mindful of your choices. Because how you use your time is, well, ultimately your decision. There is nothing inherently wrong with volunteering, or watching some Netflix or any other non-writing activities. The question is how much writing do you want to do? What feeds your soul and, thus, your writing. So yes, if drinking teas, taking walks in the woods and volunteering feeds your soul–then go for it. But if you are volunteering to escape writing (if writing is what you want to do) it is worth re-considering.
I certainly went through a chunk of time where I volunteered way too many hours (as I mentioned earlier), which affected my health and well-being. When you lump this on top on staying up into the wee hours writing (well, that’s the only time I had since I was volunteering so much), and not exercising, then it’s not a good formula, at least for me.
So now I make sure to write regularly but ALSO exercise, eat well and remember to go to bed!
So today, I’m going to remind you of the importance of balance because I want to remind myself. And, perhaps the most important thing is to discover for yourself what works best for you.
Jessica Rose says
Thanks for your thoughts on the subject, Hillary. I’m currently giving more attention to thinking about writing, being part of a critique group, going to author talks and conferences, rather than writing every day. I am glad that I am giving more children’s lit stuff my attention than I used to outside of the summer, but yeah, there is only so much time in the day and my work isn’t writing itself!