Friday, July 1, 2011

Work Time Goals

There are a couple of problems with this whole "stay at home mom" thing. And I'm not even talking about my two-weeks-after-school-ends "Mom, I'm bored" problem. (Although, in all honesty, if she doesn't SHUT UP soon, I'm going to have to mangle her.)

The first one is, I'm used to doing things on my own time. This is not usually a problem, and my schedule is flexible enough to allow certain amounts of screwing around. (Before people call me lazy, keep in mind that I KNOW what you all do in your corporate offices, and I'd say at least 75% of the people I know who have a "real job" screw around more than I do. Facebook games, anyone?)

However! (You knew there had to be a but coming, right?) Having my own schedule doesn't always lead to my getting everything done! How this can be, I'm not entirely certain. It does often seem that my life is like some mysteriously crazy game of whack a mole. Every time I think I've got it covered, something else sticks up a furry little head. I made the mistaken assumption that once the child-thing was out of the house several hours a day, I'd have "plenty of time" to do everything. So why does it seem like I can't get anything done?

Back when she was a wee-one and sat in a rocking swing most of the day, I wrote an entire novel in less than nine months.

That was six years ago.

And then she started walking and talking. And so I've done very little work since then.

Part of it is the housing situation... We have one "family room" that's supposed to be a dining room/living room combination, but instead is a living room/computer room (we don't have a dining room table; we eat at our computer desks.... and anyone who'd like to argue with me that "family dinner" is more important than my sanity... I have a sledgehammer with your name on it.) We have two tiny bedrooms - and the master bedroom is so small that my dresser is actually in our daughter's room because there's no room for it elsewhere.

And unlike me, when I was my daughter's age, she plays OUT HERE. (When I was seven, I spent most of my time hiding in my own bedroom. My mother didn't ALLOW toys in the living room. Or anywhere else in the house, except my room. If I wasn't in my bedroom, I had to be watching television. Which I wasn't allowed to do past 4:30pm anyway.)

And of course, after he gets home from work, the husband is in here. All the time. There's NO WHERE to go in this house. The bedrooms are tiny and stuffed full of furniture. Not to mention the lighting in my bedroom at least is terrible. I don't even read books back there most of the time.

It's just not the most productive environment. I feel like there's always someone on top of my head.

I've tried doing the coffee-shop thing a few times, but my favorite coffee shop is about ten miles away, and I just can't see forcing myself to have Starbucks in order to get some alone time. Aside from that, I always seem to have a sign on my head that says "Oh, please, bother me." I can't seem to go anywhere that someone doesn't decide to sit down and start talking to me. Wearing headphones and reading a book doesn't stop them. I've even had one batty old lady jerk the headphone OUT OF MY EAR.

(Although I have finally seemed to have snarled at enough people that the patrons of the laundromat don't bother me anymore. And oddly enough, I get a lot of work done when I'm there. But who wants to go do the laundry 2-3 times a week?)

But honestly, these are all just excuses...

I haven't been writing as much as I'd like BECAUSE no one is forcing me to do it. When I started writing Marked Man (or, started re-writing it, because originally, in 2004, I'd written it as my NaNoWriMo project and then I'd had complete hard-drive failure in January and lost the entire thing with no backup copies...) I had reader anticipation. My friend/muse/researcher/editor had been particularly interested in this story and I wrote to satisfy her expectations.

I've been writing well on deadlines, for these short stories, written to spec. I've even really enjoyed working on them, and generally feeling quite happy with my progress.

But I did some math yesterday. (Why yes, while I complain about my child's math geekery, I'm guilty of it myself.) I'm writing 1 short story every other month. And while I am getting paid for one of them (and obviously, I hope to get paid for the others as well!) that's really not very productive in the long run. $50 - $100 every 2 months is not what you'd call "real money." Heck, it's barely a dinner out! And not quite that if I plan to do any drinking.


I need to write more. I need to re-discipline myself to writing several times a week, and doing more than 200 words in a session.

Since I have a couple of projects: two short stories for spec, and a series of urban supernatural romances (a 4-novel set... and I've already done some headwork for them... I think they'll be fun) I want to get back into writing as an actual job.

When I wrote Marked Man (six years ago? Really? jeeeeeeez) my writing goal was 2,000 words per week. That was four sessions per week of 500 words a session. Or, one page, four times a week. Four pages in a week. That's NOT much. I certainly know many people who are significantly more prolific than that.

But I don't think it'll do me any good to compare myself to other people.

I'm going to do what works for me.

For July, my goal is to write at least 2,000 words per week. I can work on Shifting Steam (due August 10), or work on Ripped (due Oct 1) or work on True Sight (the first of the four urban supernatural romances... ) I'd also like to edit Marked Man, so I'm also going to make revisions a goal. I'd like to revise 2 chapters per month, at least. (it's a 29 chapter novel... which might take a while to revise with a goal like that, but since I can't seem to find an actual editor to do more than 8 chapters of suggestions before they crap out on me, I have to do a LOT MORE WORK to get it into shape... I know why people pay editors, but honestly, right now, I can't afford it!)

I've already worked out a rough timeline of when I want Shifting Steam done; so it should go out to my beta readers by July 27th. That's a 5-10k story, of which I've already done ~2,000, so on the goal of 2k per week, I will finish that handily on schedule with a bit of work on one of my other stories. 2 Chapters revised on Marked Man. And perhaps an outline drawn up of True Sight.

It's going to be a busy month!

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