S. J. Kelley

Tag Archive: Time Management

Good bye burnout; hello Eisenhower Matrix!

So the Writing in Public thing failed miserably. It was a success in that I felt guilty for not writing, which was the point, but I realized that I’m burnt out. My schedules never really had any leisure time, so I never really got a chance to recharge (turns out washing clothes is not rejuvenating). I would feel burnt out, not work on the novel to relax, but because my schedule said I was supposed to be working on the novel, I never truly relaxed, and instead was full of guilt. All time. So, I gave myself permission to be lazy. Wow. What a difference it makes to sit back at the end of the day and not have a cloud of “I should be…” hanging over my head. This is why people enjoy weekends!

While relaxing, I read a fabulous post on procrastination. At it’s core was the “Eisenhower Matrix” popularized in “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. It looks like this:

Urgent Not Urgent
Urgent and
Not urgent and
Urgent and
Not important
Not urgent and
Not important

This was paired with a cool Eisenhower quote: “What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.” The author then goes on to describe how the things that get you ahead in an entrepreneurial side business aren’t usually urgent (like writing a novel) but are nonetheless quite important. We will never achieve our long-term dreams/goals without working on Q2; it’s what gets us ahead. But these lofty goals get overwhelmed by using urgency as the sole method to prioritize where we put our effort, when in reality there should be very few things in Q1. Which means we spend more time in Q3, doing those urgent but not important tasks that keep us busy.

The post goes on to describe where different types of procrastinators fall, and the section on “Impostinators” fit me almost exactly: we look productive, but we’re working on tasks that aren’t all important and won’t get us closer to our goals. He gives examples of “spending the whole day answering emails, running errands, making phone calls, organizing lists and schedules,” etc. If this is a problem for you, I encourage you to read his lengthy post.

So now I want to look at my major goals in life and put them in this matrix. This task, in and of itself, is classic of procrastination — lots of planning, little doing — but it makes me feel better! Why do I want to put all of my goals in the matrix, instead of just my novel writing ones? Well, that was a major point I took away from the post. Q1 and Q2 tasks, the important tasks, should take priority, and urgency should be defined as “what would benefit most from being done sooner” rather than what has the closest deadline. Q2 tasks could be spending time with family, which is just as important as improving my craft.

Goal: Develop my self-publishing business
Urgent Not Urgent
Write new words
Update scene metadata
Improve craft
Learn nonverbal behaviour
Update “Writing in Public”
Read self-publishing news (The Passive Voice)
Read KBoards
Read author blogs
Listen to podcasts
Work out better schedule
Goal: Everything else (Family, Health)
Urgent Not Urgent
Sort out taxes
Sort out bills
Book camping site
Spend time with kids
Get kids’ back-to-school supplies
Make basement livable space
List stuff to sell
Do Laundry
Watch Netflix
Go down internet rabbit hole

Writing in Public: Day 1

Ok, I need some accountability. I’ve switched schedules… again. Now I’m trying working after the kids go to bed and staying up until midnight, catching up on sleep with naps whenever I can get them. It’s not working out. No schedule seems to work out. I’m tired. All the freaking time. It takes me an hour just to warm up to the idea of doing more thinking after a day of thinking and then trying my hardest to be patient while looking after children and being sleep deprived. Drained is an understatement. Ugh.

I really like Dean Wesley Smith’s idea of “writing in public” Basically, he posts what he does every day. I had considered writing my daily successes into an agenda (because there are more things to capture than word counts), but I have a bias against analog. I hate the idea of something not being backed up somehow. So I’ll try this blog. We’ll see.

So today I am coming off last night’s attempt to recover from burn-out (my medicine was 5 episodes of “Lie to Me” on Netflix). I actually find the show a good resource for my writing, and it inspired me to pick up a few books on nonverbal communication which have really enriched my writing. I plan to review them. Eventually. Some day. Because time.

So, long story short, I only got 5 hours of sleep. Still managed to get 841 words in though. I’d really like to get up to 2k/day, but 1k/day is already a stretch with the way I’m going. 10k a week would be more awesome than awesomeness. Since today is Thursday, I’ll aim for 5k this week.

I’m starting to realize that my book is going to be long. Act 1 is 25k, and I’m well into Act 2a and it’s going to be much longer. Might have to consider making my transition from Act 1-2 a midpoint, and cluing up the book at the end of what I had originally envisioned as the true midpoint. Would make a good cliffhanger, but would still probably weigh in at 50-60k, which is novel length. At least then I can get a book out sooner!

Book 1:
Day   1 …………    840 words
Total ………….. 38,881 words

Productivity analysis

Well, April didn’t go exactly as planned. Between making a final exam for my students, holding tutorials, giving said exam, and then spending hours and hours marking it for all 225 students, I didn’t get much done on my work in progress. The good news is that since the last time I posted I’ve written something, even if it’s only 3500 words. As of now book one stands at 30,861 (and yes, that final word is counted!).

I find it difficult to focus unless I know that I am working at optimal efficiency. It doesn’t escape my notice that if I just spent more time writing, and less time optimizing, that I’d have a lot more words written by now. My problem is that I just can’t do anything halfway; when I want to analyze something, I analyze it.

And so, with a little bit of excitement, but also knowing that the following may be taken as evidence of my idiosyncrasies, I present to you my productivity analysis:Productivity analysis

Isn’t it beautiful in its bland grayness? Bear with me.

If you have been reading this blog (I can’t imagine why you would be, but lets pretend), you will note that I track an awful lot of things. The above chart was made from four months of tracking data. Every time I sat down to write, I recorded the time of day, how I was feeling (in the zone, just okay, tired, or groggy), and my average words per hour, amongst other things.

Why you may ask? To be honest, I’ve read a lot about people being productive in the morning, but my angry, murder-esque tendencies tend to come out at that time of day, when I am loath to meet the day star. In the nighttime, I am a zombie waiting to breathe my final breath before falling into my pillows. In short, the ends of my days are miserable no matter which one I choose, but when you have a day job and children, that’s all you’ve got to work with. So if I’m going to be miserable, I damn well want to be efficiently and optimally miserable.

The bars above indicate my writing speed, using the axis on the left, while the line represents my level of cognitive unfuzziness, represented by the axis on the right. I thought I’d see more of a correlation between writing speed and when I thought I was “in the zone,” but this doesn’t seem to be the case. I think my writing output has less to do with how awake I’m feeling, and more to do with how much creative juice I have left to give.

My two options are really only the 4:30-6:30 am time slot, or the 8:30-10:30 pm timeslot. The cognitive unfuzziness levels of these timeslots are similar (63% vs. 67%), but the output is drastically different — 407 wph vs. 255 wph. Needless to say, I am not pleased with these results, but I’m glad I wasted a few hours looking into it, because I was just about to commit to staying up late instead of getting up early.

So there you have it, a night owl whose efficiency patterns follow those of the lark. But the data doesn’t lie, and I’m sure as hell not going to collect another four months of it looking for a different answer.

How will I get out of bed, and not fall to the trap of going back to sleep after the one-week honeymoon period runs out? Well, my husband has a very bright halogen work lamp, and I have a programmable outlet timer. Those two are about to get acquainted.

Three month plan: GAME ON!

I’ve just finished my first round of taxes as a business. Complicated. I don’t have any revenue yet, but I’m claiming my craft/marketing books and training programs. Still have to figure out how to bring my personal library into a partnership. Fun times.

I’m also trying to plan out my next three months. I’ve negotiated having Tuesdays and Thursdays off at work from late Feb – July. February and March will be taken up with my second job (teaching as an adjunct), but I’ve got from March 29 – July 7 to make something happen (the last 3 weeks of July will be taken up with family activities, since the kids are off school).

So that gives me 14-15 weeks, or about 29 full work days plus whatever additional time I can steal from evenings and weekends (with my family responsibilities, it won’t be much).

I’ve edited down Act I of my WIP, and a bit of Act II, and I’m at 27,300 words. Good words! I think I’ve gotten into a groove now in terms of style and voice.

Each Act looks like it will be 24,000 words after editing. I’m a taker-outer rather than a putter-inner, so I have to learn to write in the leaner style I’ve developed while editing. In any case, this would make each book 96,000 words, and I want 3 books ready to go for launch, so 288,000 words less the 27,300 equals 260,700. That means I have to write 17,380 words/week.

Holy crapola!

Assuming I can get 7 hours in on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and an hour in on every other day, I’ll get 19 hours a week. Let’s make it 20 to have round numbers. That means I need to write 869 words per hour. My top speed was about half that. Let’s hope I’ll be a bit quicker now that I’m more practices in my protagonist’s voice; yikes!

I’m going to make my goal 17 k/wk, 1100 words on MWFSS, and 6000 words on TR.

For the next two weeks, I’ll focus on doing scene-by-scene outlines of the three books. I’ve got a 9600 word narrative of where I want Book 1 to go, and another 3400 of ideas of the overall series, but I need to flesh out the nuts and bolts of how I’m going to translate that into scenes, and need to work on Books 2 and 3. I’ve got about 18 hours in the next two weeks to make that happen.



So much of the battle to become an established self-published author boils down to motivation. When I plan out my schedule, it looks like I can get in 10 to 15 hours a week to work on this business, but when reality knocks I’m exhausted, the kids want attention (and to be honest they should be getting more), and it seems impossible to work constantly without having some down time to read, watch a movie, or otherwise unwind.

Readers of this blog will know that I’ve waffled between getting up early or staying up late to get things done. Alarms don’t seem to work for me for longer than a one week period – no matter how much sleep I get it, even if it is 9 or 10 hours, I despise getting up in the morning. Conversely, if I stay up late my creative juices have run dry, extracted in the masticator that is my day job.

I’ve tried many ways to get around this conundrum. Since waking up to an alarm is so difficult, I have instead started setting an alarm to remind me to go to bed at a reasonable hour, and since my faculties are usually not as compromised in the evenings, this is easier to stick to. My latest is to set an alarm to remind myself to get ready for bed at 8:30 pm, and when I inevitably awake at night, if the clock says 4:30 or later, I get up. There’s a bit of science around this. If you wake up naturally, you are usually at the end of the sleep cycle, and thus even if you have had less sleep, you will be significantly less drowsy. This was how I managed to get up this morning. Let’s see how it goes.

I’ve also upped my game when it comes to cues, particularly after reading Heidi Grant Halverson’s book Succeed. I’ve made some very specific goals (related to my novel, healthy eating, exercise, and family), printed up some Don’t-Break-the-Chains, and have written some goal statements on the whiteboard that I pass every morning on my way to the shower:

“When my alarm sounds, I will finish whatever I am doing as quickly as possible and go to bed.”

“If I get up early, focus, and avoid distraction, I will develop my indie career and make steps toward being my own boss.”

Next week, I will once again request to go down to working 3 days a week at my day job, instead of 5. This will be the third year that I have reduced my workload in an effort to make this indie career work. In the first year, I continued to work 5 days a week, but got off a few hours earlier each day. That didn’t work out because no one else seemed to respect the fact that my workday ended earlier, and where I am management I don’t get paid overtime, so essentially I was working normal hours for less pay. I learned from this when the second year rolled around, and asked to work just 3 days week. This time I was sabotaged by my need to take on a teaching job that consumed the other 2 days more than I had anticipated. By the time that job ended I was burnt out, but did manage to put in about 25,000 words, so there’s that. This year I will again go for the 3 days a week, but unfortunately I do have another teaching job. I’ve taken the last 2 weeks off from my main job to try to do all of my lecture prep in advance so that the month of March isn’t a complete wash. Looking good so far, but only time will tell.

Getting back on the train

I’m not one for excuses, but when I’m looking over this blog I want to know the type of things that tend to set me back. My last post was in May. May. That’s not to say that I stopped working toward my goal. During that time I devoured information about the indie publishing market. I’ve read many, many nonfiction books on the topic. I also started listening to the Rocking Self Publishing Podcast, with Simon Whistler, and it has been absolutely fabulous.

My in-laws visited for about three weeks, so things were a wash during that period, but since then I’ve been trying to get back into a regular routine. I still waiver between wanting to stay up late at night, and getting up early. During the day, I’m energetic, and think it won’t be any trouble to stay up late, after all I did it all through university. At nighttime, as soon as the kids are down, I may be able to make it for a half an hour or an hour or so before my eyelids start closing on their own. And I say to myself, “well, just get up early!” And yet when the alarm clock tolls the dawn of a new day (and I set it so that the new day starts before the actual dawn), I have become a zombie.

So I printed off a sheet for Monday through Sunday, when I would wake up, work on the novel, have leisure time, and sleep. I entered a period of optimization. I realized that I am not a robot. You would think that would be immediately apparent, butt it’s not. I love to read. I’ll often start a book at night when the kids are in bed, and because it is so good I will read until 2 o’clock in the morning and therefore be a zombie for several days. Yet when I was trying to maximize the amount of time I would spend writing, I essentially eliminated all leisure time. This does not work for me. I’ve also realized that I need more than the standard eight hours of sleep a night, and benefit from occasionally getting extended periods of sleep. Thus, I bring you my new schedule:

Day Wake-up Shower Write Leisure Sleep
Monday 5 am 5-5:30 am 5:30-7 am 8-9 pm 9 pm / 8 hrs
Tuesday 5 am 5-5:30 am 5:30-7 am n/a 8 pm / 9 hrs
Wednesday 5 am 5-5:30 am 5:30-7 am 8-9 pm 9 pm / 8 hrs
Thursday 5 am 5-5:30 am 5:30-7 am 8-9 pm 9 pm / 8 hrs
Friday 5 am 5-5:30 am 5:30-7 am 8-9:30 pm 9:30 pm / 8.5 hrs
Saturday 6 am Later! 6-7:30 am 8-9 pm 9 pm / 9 hrs
Sunday 6 am Later! 6-7:30 am 8-9 pm 9 pm / 8 hrs

Week of May 4, 2015: Cannot find simple floor plan software to help me visualize my world

Stat summary for the last two weeks can be found here.

I think it’s good that I’m starting to track how much time I spend on the business side of indie publishing and how much I spend on actual writing. For the week of April 27, 2015 I spent a total of 13:25 on the author career, and 9:41 of that was used on business related things (learning the business, trends, advice, etc). This is not an acceptable ratio!

I got my butt in gear the next week but came to a point in the novel where my Main character is exploring the school, and I realized I needed a clear picture of the school in my mind. I tried program after program to draw a “simple” floor plan of the school so I could orient myself. It was a major block; I couldn’t keep going unless I knew where I was. Going through the motions made me realize that the space I had envisioned was physically impossible because I had huge rooms next to ones that were very small, but for the plot they had to be similar in size. It was a mess.

I spent 26:07 last week on this career, and used 15:17 for trying to come up with a good map. I’m still not there. That said, the exercise was not entirely fruitless. I added more groups inside the school, and came up with their past histories, which groups conflict on a number of different controversial topics, and how the groups work together. Lots of this will be important to the plot, and I feel I have a much better grip on who these people are. I started an excel sheet to lay out what the different groups think about various things (I’m being intentionally vague).

That said, I still do want to make a floor plan. I tried several software programs. I just want one that lets me edit the walls with a snap feature, and let’s me copy floors for multi-level buildings, and maybe see the floor beneath. Just something simple to let me draw boxes and stick windows and furniture in them! Here’s a quick summary of the software that fell short:

  • Sweet Home 3D was nice, and let me see the floor beneath, but the interface wasn’t great, and it was slow. Amazingly, they had no pan ability in the 3D view. The only way to get around it was to do a “virtual tour” and make the person 20 feet tall. The walls wouldn’t line up well, but at least I could copy them.
  • Room Arranger was the best I think; it had a nice guide feature, but you had to edit the walls separately from the contents of the room (including windows and doors), and there was no easy way to copy a bunch of walls to make multiple storeys. I did the most work in this program, but in the end it took almost a whole day to plan out the first floor of a dorm and the bathrooms. o_O’
  • I tried Home Designer but it wouldn’t run under my Windows XP Virtual Machine.
  • EZBluePrint 3D seemed ok, but lacked a grid and the interface was just plan odd, but the snapping feature was one of the best.
  • I even watched some video tutorials on Google SketchUp, but you have to make things like windows and doors from basic shapes and that’s way too time consuming.
There seemed to be quite a selection of online options, but I have to make a massive building and grounds, and don’t trust that my information won’t go piff. I like having things as files that I can put on Dropbox and my external hard drive.
I don’t yet have an answer to this issue, except maybe drawing everything by hand. I think it would go faster that way, but my space perception is about as good as a one-eyed newborn kitten’s. Software programs let you add furniture to the room so you I can say things like, “gee, when I put everything I need in that room I only ill 20% of the space… it must be the size of a football field!” To draw it by hand I’d have to lookup the normal sizes of things for scale, and I couldn’t just drag a wall smaller to get it to fit.
Next week I’ll probably come in here with my head between my legs and say I drew the damn thing by hand, and spent the whole week doing it… at least it gets me thinking about the world.
Oh I just thought of something! I’ll ask the folks on KBoards! Stay tuned…

More on seasons / episodes

After reading more about ebook pricing, I’m thinking my initial plan my need to be revised.

Writing / Editing Release Date Book Length Price
May 4 – 31, 2015 Oct 4, 2015 Season 1: Episode 1 ~25k FREE
Jun 1 – 28, 2015 Oct 4, 2015 Season 1: Episode 2 ~25k $2.99
Jun 29 – Aug 5, 2015 Nov 1, 2015 Season 1: Episode 3 ~25k $2.99
Aug – Oct 11, 2015 Nov 29, 2015 Season 1: Episode 4 ~25k $2.99
Oct 12, 2015 Dec 26, 2015 Season 1: Omnibus ~100k $5.99 (save 33%)
Oct 13 – Dec 15, 2015 Feb 7, 2016 Season 2: Episode 1 ~25k $2.99
Dec 15/’15 – Feb 16, 2016 Mar 20, 2016 Season 2: Episode 2 ~25k $2.99
Feb 17 – Mar 13, 2016 Apr 17, 2016 Season 2: Episode 3 ~25k $2.99
Mar 14 – Apr 6, 2016 May 15, 2016 Season 2: Episode 4 ~25k $2.99
Apr 6 – May 1, 2016 Jun 12, 2016 Season 2: Omnibus ~100k $6.99 (save 42%)

While books are on pre-order I’ll list them at a reduced price of $1.99 per episode, or 4.99/5.99 per season.

I’ve also come up with a new writing schedule. I reduced my hours at work to 3 days a week, but my Tuesdays and Thursdays seem to get swallowed up by my to-do list backlog, and I get less than 2-3 hours of writing in. I thought if I had a more strict schedule on those days I could treat it like a job. I wouldn’t be late for work or not put in the time, so why should I not put the time into this career? The schedule below allows for 8 hours of sleep per night (I need 8.5 to feel normal according to my sleep experiment, but this will probably do).

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday (1.5 hr/day; 6 hr/week)
8:15 pm – 9:45 pm Novel (1.5 hr)
9:45 pm – 9:50 pm Get ready for bed
9:50 pm – 10:30 pm Leisure

Tuesday, Thursday (7.5 hr/day; 15 hr/week)
8:30 am – 10:00 am Novel (1.5 hr)
10:00 am – 10:30 am Break
10:30 am – 12:00 pm Novel (1.5 hr)
12:00 pm – 12:45 pm Lunch
12:45 pm – 2:15 pm Novel (1.5 hr)
2:15 pm – 2:45 pm Break
2:45 pm – 4:15 pm Novel (1.5 hr)
4:15 pm – 5:00 pm Life stuff / Logistics
8:15 pm – 9:45 pm Novel (1.5 hr)
9:45 pm – 9:50 pm Get ready for bed
9:50 pm – 10:30 pm Leisure

Saturday (4 hr/day and week)
10:00 am – 12:30 pm Novel (2.5 hr)
8:15 pm – 9:45 pm Novel (1.5 hr)
9:45 pm – 9:50 pm Get ready for bed
9:50 pm – 10:30 pm Leisure

In total I’ll get in 25 hours a week this way. I have 10 weeks left on this schedule, then one week of vacation while kids are in summer camp (writing binge like T/R schedule; 37.5 hrs), then 2 weeks vacation of nothing, and then I’m back to working 5 days a week, so I’ll only get in 1.5 hours every night (10.5 hours per week). Note that all of these times are actual writing/editing times. In my “leisure” and during my 20 min coffee / 30 min lunch breaks at work I’ll read business related things such as blogs like The Passive Voice and forums such as KBoards, and will try to squeeze marketing in those times as well.

According to my spreadsheet I average a measly 390 WPH writing, and edit at 2500 WPH. I’m hoping to finish editing Episode 1 this week, so starting Monday I’ll have 75k remaining. Each episode will take me 64 hours to write and 10 to edit, so about 75 hours total. By the time I add covers and promo planning, about 85 hours, or 3.5 weeks (lets round to 4 weeks because I have to learn book layouts and how to upload, etc). I’ll use my summer camp week to arrange promos, covers, beta readers, etc. I want to have the whole thing done before work picks up again and also before the first release, because I like to go back and add hints to make sure they’re all a cohesive document. I won’t be able to do that with season 2, but hopefully things pick up enough that I can work less at the day job all year, not just for a few months.

Weekly Progress

I’m a new writer who’s still trying to work out how to be productive and write faster. I also love data, and track my output in a spreadsheet. Here I just wanted a place where I could post the weekly totals that I discuss in my Sunday updates, so I could see everything at a glance. I’ll be updating this every week.

This form of progress tracking replaces the one I used previously, which didn’t differentiate between editing and writing, and as a result the words per hour calculation wasn’t accurate. I also realized that I was spending a lot of my time on the business aspect of self-publishing, such as reading about marketing and promotion on KBoards, but I wasn’t tracking this at all. So when I would look back on the total amount of time I spent each week on developing this side career, it looked quite low. My old way was like tracking the production line, but paying no attention to the hours logged by the marketing division or the research and development team. This new way of tracking truly captures how much time I am spending on launching my writing career.

Key: W/E = Writing and Editing; B = Business (learning, production, marketing, management); O = Other (learning craft, outlining); WPH-W/E = Average words per Hour when writing/editing.

Wk Week start W/E B O TOTAL WPH-W WPH-E  Net words 
W-1 Jan 26, ’15 6:15 n/a n/a 6:15 273 1,707
W-2 Feb 2, ’15 10:10 n/a n/a 10:10 236 2,533
W-3 Feb 9, ’15 8:05 n/a n/a 8:05 364 2,365
W-4 Feb 16, ’15 9:22 n/a n/a 9:22 375 3,435
W-5 Feb 23, ’15 10:25 n/a n/a 10:25 295 2,768
W-6 Mar 2, ’15 11:16 n/a n/a 11:16 446 4,367
W-7 Mar 9, ’15 10:19 n/a n/a 10:19 450 4,955
W-8 Mar 16, ’15 n/a 6:36 6:36 735
W-9 Mar 23, ’15 2:31 n/a 1:20 3:51 413 n/a
W-10 Mar 30, ’15 n/a 0
W-11 Apr 6, ’15 n/a 0
W-12 Apr 13, ’15 3:02 n/a 3:02 572 2,239
W-13 Apr 20, ’15 9:42 n/a 9:42 475 2,099 476
W-14 Apr 27, ’15 3:44 9:41 13:25 2,735 50
W-15 May 4, ’15 5:33 5:17 15:17 26:07 530 4,004 1,584

Week of March 9, 2015: Best week yet, but writing takes so long… getting discouraged.

Week Week start date Days I wrote Words written Time used WPH (avg) WPH (writing)
W-7 Mar 9, 2015 6 4969 12:31 397 449

Re: Scheduling

So this is the end of my second week of early mornings, and it’s working out fairly well. I fall asleep quite easily between 8:30 and 9:30, but still have a bit of trouble hauling myself out of bed. Also I’ve noticed that when I first started this I used to start writing right away, but now that I’m getting used to the schedule I spend time “waking up” with email checks just like I used to do in the evenings, so even though I get up 2 hours earlier, I only get about 1h20 of writing time in. And I hate when I’m on a roll and have to stop because I have to go to the real job.

This of course makes me flip flop back to ‘why not just go back to nights?’ If I’m going to ‘waste’ 40 minutes, I rather use that time to ‘wake up’ with a jog after the kids are in bed and then plow away with writing. That would also mean my social schedule gets less perturbed, and if I was on a roll I could run with it and push through work on less sleep, going to bed early to catch up. That inconsistent sleep schedule is bad for your overall health though. And my husband says I’m less cranky when I get up early, and less dead when I come home from work, heh. It’s what I’ve been doing all my life though, so I feel myself gravitating to it.

Re: The long, long road…

This week was also the first major discrepancy between what I wrote and what I kept. So even though I wrote 4969, only 4550 remain. That stung.

I should be happy that I’m up to almost 5k a week. In the beginning that seemed like something I would never reach, but I still feel like it’s not enough. Right now a lot of my weekly count is happening on the Tuesdays and Thursdays I have free. That’s going to end, and then what? Back to the 1500-2000 words a week? Can’t happen; I need to meet my goals. I’m impatient! The end of the road looks so far away, and then there’s editing, and cover design, and marketing, and business stuff, and mailing lists, and figuring out how to stay anonymous.

I read somewhere that whenever you tackle a long task that you should visualize yourself a year from now, and looking back would you have wanted to start in on it earlier, even if it was just a little bit every day? And of course the answer would be yes. Even if I only have half a book the answer will be yes. But once I’ve got my mind into something I just want to dive right into it and burn through it until it’s done. The fact that I can’t because of my job is killing me.

I used to love my current job; I even proclaimed that it was the best job in the world, and I really did feel that way. Now every tiny little thing is getting to me, even if 90% of the time things are good, the 10% eats at my brain. And it comes down to the fact that I still work for someone else.

That’s never really fit with me.

I started a dog walking business when I was 9. I did desktop publishing layouts in high school and early university but I felt more like a contractor. In my current part-time teaching job I feel like I’m in my own game, me and the students. I have a Department Head, but s/he doesn’t tell me what to do; I just give him/her the grades. There’s a freedom there. But in my bread-and-butter job I have a clear boss who I report to every week (and my new boss manages very differently than the old one. I used to feel like a team member whose ideas were appreciated; now I feel like a cog in the wheel who should just shut up and do the work.) While I enjoy the work and feel like I’m making a difference, the fact that it’s employment won’t change, and the environment is so very dependent on the personality of the person I report to. It’s the fatal flaw that’s gnawing at me, and making me quite unhappy with what most people would fall head over heels for.

I was reading on KBoards that there’s no need to try to advance in two careers at the same time, and it hit me that that’s really what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to get a promotion at work (largely so I only need to work one job to make ends meet instead of a full-time job plus a part-time job), and I’m trying to make this writing thing viable. I need to not give so much of myself to my day-job. I put in many hundreds of hours of unpaid overtime a year (I’m salaried, so it’s expected), but I need to start delegating and protecting my time. Something has to give, and I can’t expect my little boys to be the ones who have to go without their mommy. Sadly, that has been the case during peak periods at work, when they’d be heading to bed when I came home. That lasts 4-6 months. Brutal.

As an aside: I’ve never really blogged before I started this one, but man, writing all that stuff out is therapeutic. Reminds me of a study I read that showed that people who journal tend to have a better outlook, almost as much as those who go to therapy. I can see that.