Sunday, October 28, 2012

Week in Review-Preview - Layoff Diary 1

I had this really cool idea that I'd write a little "Layoff Diary" as a short feature of my Sunday updates. What I've learned/experienced each week.

What I've learned these first ten days is that things move so fast -- in my head at least -- that something that seems like a brilliant idea on Tuesday, not only loses it's luster, but I can't even remember the train of thought that made it sound cool.  Or worse, I do remember and I think "Why would I want to do that?  That was, like yesterday's thought.  I'm sick to death of thinking about that."

Which leads to the main thing that happened to me the first week: Popcorn Kittens on Speed. (For newbies, the reference is to this video, and Kris Rusch's blog post about how the excitement of indie publishing has her brain neurons firing like popcorn kittens.)

When I got laid off, I knew I shouldn't expect anything of myself for the rest of October.  I was right.  There was more kerfuffle related to the layoff than expected.  I also had a lot to process.  I have been very distracted and my mind has not been in the right place to actually write.  I have been able to do some drawing, and I can write to meet deadlines for the blog -- but thinking much beyond tomorrow's blog post has been a little beyond me.

Other than make grand plans, that is.  Thinking Big Picture stuff.  But not actual work yet.

And then, a few days ago -- just about exactly one week after being laid off -- my brain kicked into gear.  I realized just exactly how I was approaching this wrong.  I have been setting myself up to be overwhelmed, and my brain didn't like it.

The Irony of My Dare Goals:

I used to go after a novel dare the way others did: with word counts, just pushing toward a single goal on a single project. Like Nanowrimo: write a book in a month or two months or whatever.  This works when you have a day job and a life and you're not planning to change from that any time soon.  The point is to eliminate distractions.

But for the past few years I've been working on changing my lifestyle, and making the transition toward writing full time.  And for that, I found that I needed to measure my "time on the job" for the writing dares.  So I split my work week, 20 hours at the day job, and 20 hours at the writing business.

And that worked really well.  I have to say that that has helped me wonderfully to make the mental transition.  I was already working 3 days at day job and 4 days at home. I'd just take what I do on those 4 days, and do it 7 days a week.  It seemed like the perfect way to transition to 40 hours a week on the writing business.

And it will probably work in terms of habits.  The problem is with substance - what I'm doing, not just how long. I'm going to be fitting a whole lot more different tasks and pressures into that 40 hours. A whole lot more opportunities too.  Just punching a time clock is not going to solve the problem of managing so many tasks.

That's part of why I am so distracted. I've got a lot on my plate, and now everything is integrated into my life so deeply that there really isn't a good dividing line for that 40 hours.  It's more like 24/7 now.

And that's okay for everything with an external deadline.  You pay the bills by the due date, and get that blog post done before bed time.  And most other things will take care of themselves -- either becoming urgent or forgotten.

But the writing needs its own special place.  It's ironic, but I think the best approach to writing when you go full time is the same one I used in the beginning, when I wasn't planning to give up the day job:

Focus on, and account for, just one work-in-progress at a time, and let everything else take care of itself.

Just like a regular old vanilla novel dare.  And with so much on my plate I like to think of it as like being badly in debt, and the solution as being a little bit like Dave Ramsey's Debt Snowball.  I'll talk about that on Wednesday when I post my official goals for the rest of ROW80.

A Round of Words in 80 Days Update

This Segment's Progress:

Wednesday Day 24 - 135 minutes
Thursday Day 25 - 210 minutes
Friday Day 26 - 90 minutes
Saturday Day 27 - 210 minutes

This Past Week's Posts:

Coming This Week on the Blog:

Monday - Test of Freedom, Ep 5 "The Ladies' Expeditionary Force."
Because of computer problems and other things, I'm postponing both of this week's episodes until next week.  I'll explain more on Wednesday.

Tuesday - Covers!  (And maybe a published book announcement)
I've got some art to show you, and I hope to have Misplaced Hero published.

Wednesday - New Goals: The Writing Snowball
New priorities for my New World Order.

Thursday -Test of Freedom, Ep 6 "Hingle and Sherman"
Postponed until next week

Friday Favorites - Uhhhhhh ... a Surprise!
Seriously, I don't know what I'm going to write about.  I haven't even thought about it.

See you in the funny papers.


Kate Copeseeley said...

It's funny, getting laid off was what prompted me to finally FINISH a book. After that, things just seemed to flow better in my mind and I understood how to budget my time better. Before that, I was all over the place, unorganized and writing only when I could fit in a free minute. Now I try to budget my time better. I don't always succeed, but at least I try.

Good luck on your next book. Hope you get it published when you're planning to. :)

The Daring Novelist said...

Well, getting laid off is definitely going to prompt a lot of productivity in me. It's just that there's a lot going on right now.

Thanks for the well wishes. Good luck to you too.