Monday, August 29, 2011

Dare Day 2

The first day of this 600 minute dare was painful. Saturdays are always filled with errands and with decompressing. (The decompressing will be easier when the new schedule kicks in, though.)

The second day, however, still did not go as well as I expected. but that's okay. I realize that I'm being reasonably strict with myself with my definition of "nose in book," and I'm really getting stuff done. I got 800+ words done in a single 41 minute session. But I had some uncounted time spent getting my mind into the right frame.

This is a time management trick for intense tasks: You don't count the prep time, like the cat vacuuming or sharpening of pencils or pacing around the room, or fiddling with your calendar or clock. But you do set a time to stop fiddling and go. It's like an actor doing his warm up routine and having a meltdown and doing all sorts of apparently counter productive things, until it's actually "SHOWTIME!" and then all that stuff gets shaken off and he steps into character, and turns that performance light ON and it's suddenly all about the audience.

Here's the question I still have open in my mind: Given good work done in short periods of time, should my minutes goal be lower? The average for this dare goal is 90 minutes a day, which seems fine except that I only managed 90 minutes on a day off. Will I be able to do that much after a full work day?

And I suspect the answer is... yes. Why? Well, because not all the tasks I need to do are as intense as what I did yesterday. For instance, I need to do read-throughs on the existing writing - minor editing, a "continuity and clues" check. That stuff is nose-in-manuscript and it does count. It's also something I can do with a tired mind. I'm thinking I might actually get more done after a long day at work. And those tasks don't require any fiddling and avoiding and cat-vacuuming before doing them.

I look back on when I have been struggling the most, I realize those are the times I tried to give myself a break and scheduled the cat-vacuuming tasks for after work. Maybe that shot me in the foot. Maybe I should put in just as much writing time on those days -- but it should be the easy and mindless ones. Proofing and editing and reading and not taking. Sometimes that results in new writing anyway, but it doesn't have to, no pressure.

Maybe I need to do the cat vacuuming on days off -- because it helps the focus. It also takes the pressure off all the other tasks I have on weekends. And even if I don't do more work on those days, I can do more intense work.

So I shouldn't lower the goal... I suspect that, as I train my mind to seek those Minutes That Count, the goal will start creeping upward.

Now, enough cat vacuuming. Back on my head...

See you in the funny papers.


Li said...

:-) I'm definitely one who has to set a specific time to go and write. Otherwise, I start working on other projects and time slips away.

a said...

I'm liking your reasoning, Camille. As you get better at "turning on" at a moment's notice -- which I think does come, with time and practice, to anyone who measures their product by the clock -- I'm hoping you will indeed be able to raise the goalposts.

The Daring Novelist said...

The whole "counting minutes" thing is working for me really well. Telling myself that I'm going to work at, say 8pm and keep it up until whatever causes my muse to rebel.

Saying I'm going to stop fiddling and sit down to do "a few minutes" at 8 causes no rebellion. It's only a few minutes. And then a few minutes more. Stop the clock, take a break. Oh, but I have one more idea, start the clock again.

The other part of it is that, since it is clocked minute by minute, there is NO mixing of tasks. Phone rings? Clock stops. Period.

My biggest issue right now is forgetting to start the clock sometimes.