Monday, August 11, 2008

The Art of Juggling

Question of the day: How does a writer balance novel-writing with freelancing? I'm writing my first novel and have allowed (I know it's me) my freelancing to fall by the wayside. Well, that's no good is it? I'd love to stick to a schedule, but my writer's brain doesn't always follow the plan. Do you set certain days or times aside for one project or another? Not to mention fitting in time for relationships, kids, exercise and the dreaded, awful laundry!

The way that this worked best for me was to have a very refined, delineated schedule. Keep in mind, however, that I do have child-care, so that certainly helps, and these days, I'm focusing mostly on fiction and celebrity profiles, so I'm not as busy juggling the magazine work. But yes, there was a time when I did both full-throttle, and I really think the only way this works is to be 150% organized.

I found that, for me, I focused best on fiction in the morning. Because I have such a tendency to procrastinate working on my novels, I really needed to attack it first thing...or else I'd find dozens of excuses not to attack it at all. So, my mornings broke down like this: walk the dog (or, these days, take my son to school), have coffee while I surfed the web, eat breakfast while I got the rest of my web-surfing out of my system, then at 10:15ish, start working on my novel. I'd do that for at least an hour - usually about two - until I reached my designated word count for the day - the goal was usually about 1500-2000 words.

From there, I'd take a break for the gym. Because I live in NYC, I walk everywhere, so this gym-time was also combined with errand-running time, and after my hour at the gym, I'd pick up lunch and eat while I once again checked in on my favorite web sites. The afternoon -broken up by another dog walk at some point - was devoted exclusively to magazine work. At this stage in my career, I knew exactly how long an interview or a story would take, and really, if I focused on the articles and got a good early jump from my deadlines, I wasn't too harried.

That said, I do remember that I wrote both of these books over the summer months, which are usually a bit slower in our industry, and I also remember that I intentionally took on slightly fewer magazine assignments. The biggies, yes, I'd do those. The easy-to-work-with editors, yes, I'd also do those. But the smaller FOBs or the real PIA pieces that weren't really worth my time and would suck out a lot of energy...well, I started passing on them. Part of being so well-organized is knowing that you can and must say no to things. So I did.

So that's what worked for me. Readers, how do you juggle all of your writing day to day?

1 comment:

Amy Nathan said...

This is what I call Karma. Kismet. Ok, maybe it's a just a freaky coincidence.

If I'm not mistaken, that was my question...and I just revisited it today on a new blog I started for myself. I'm riddled with questions on how to make this work for me. It's not IF it can work, mind you, it's HOW.

I'm great when I have a deadline. What I need is to be great with self-imposed deadlines.

Thanks for sharing your schedule. I like the fact that you add in the gym and the dog walks and lunch. And email. I appreciate knowing that you have an idea of how many words you want to write per day. I never thought of that.

I may have to actually write down a schedule, so that I can check things off, until it becomes a routine.