Monday, September 24, 2012

The Time Sheet

I may be on the Death Star of Writing, but there's no
two-headed monster lurking in there.
Copyright Lucasfilm. Image attribution.
If you're a writer, you probably don't think much about how much time you spend writing unless - like me - you're trying to cram a whole bunch of stuff into what constitutes a Star Wars garbage compactor of time.

I think that's maybe my first mention of Star Wars on the blog. If not, oh well. Regardless, I used to not think much about how much time I spent before this year.

Each of these blog posts takes me about half an hour to write. Some are more, some less but that's the average. I spend another half an hour, or more like 90 minutes when we're writing flash fiction, on my posts over at the Confabulator Cafe. That's four posts a week with anywhere from two to three hours of time put in to things that aren't paying. These are obligations I've given myself.

But those are largely philosophical, non-fiction types of assignments. In general they write themselves based on my experience and what's on my mind during the week. I tend to spend time thinking the topics over before I actually sit down to write. What I'm saying is that while it seems incongruous to invest in them, they're important because they force me to write on a regular schedule. The payment of being forced to write something I'm not necessarily comfortable thinking about is huge and has improved my writing.

Even though they sometimes take away from what I'd like to be writing: the novel, a new short story, a new novel, something more in the world of Evolver, maybe.

So I'm not really concerned about the return on my investment of time (that's long-term and something I can worry about once I make it onto a prominent bestseller list) but just finding the time I need to get deep into the Zone and bash away at the keys. (That's a figurative term, of course. Bashing one's computer is NOT recommended unless one is Bill Gates or Stephen King and you're basically made of money.)

In my day job I worry about Time as it concerns others and me, too. I developed a time sheet that I could use to track how much time I spent on a given project. I did that because I thought it would help me to find the wherewithal to find more time to spend writing.

I never used it. Not once.

As soon as I developed it and printed it, stuck it over my desk in the home office, it didn't mean anything. I'm not writing for a job, I write because I like to do it. I write because I want need to share my stories with the world. Yes, it's an investment and I'm hoping to have a return on it, but the investment isn't what's important. It's the end result. There's really no garbage compactor involved.

So even though I complain sometimes that I don't have enough time to write, it's more from frustration that I'm in the Zone and I have to come out of it in order to go to the job that pays the bills and keeps a roof over our heads.

Which also provides me the space I need to write and the other comforts. Like coffee.