Monday, July 27, 2009

The Next Phase of Life

Now that conference week, and the resulting brain drain, is over (for the most part), I’m moving on to obsessing about the next big event on my calendar: the first day of school. The Worsham house is busy pouring over school supply lists and discussing teacher assignments. For Drama Queen, this time of year has become old hat, though she mourns the end of summer. For Little Man, something very exciting occurs this year: he starts kindergarten.

He’s been in preschool for 2 years, so he is as prepared as he can get for this big event. And don’t worry, Mommy is prepared too. Sorry, but I’m not one of those women who weeps uncontrollably when the baby of the family leaves the nest. I enjoyed the preschool experience from the moment I first dropped him off, and am counting down the days until I can do the same for a much longer period. I know that isn’t how most women feel, but I can’t help being different.

I’ve been looking forward to this phase of my life for several years. So often, it seemed like what little time I had while he was in school got eaten up by errands, calls, and other people’s demands. But I, selfish as I am, want this time to be about me and my writing. How awesome to have uninterrupted hours in the day to write and revise, plot ideas and fine-tune submissions?

But I’m worried at the same time. I don’t want this precious gift of time to be wasted or devoured by other things. Yes, I’ll have to make the occasional run to the bank or grocery store, but I don’t want days to go by before I realize that I’ve gotten absolutely nothing accomplished in the pursuit of my goal. So many women don’t have the chance to stay home and write without worrying about a day job. Though I’ll have my resume writing service to handle, I’m still going to have more time to pursue my writing career than I’ve ever had.

I’d love to hear any advice you have on keeping this time set aside for my writing goals. How do you stay focused and not let others intrude on that precious time? I’ve gotten pretty good at saying no to outsiders, but I have a much more difficult time with family and close friends. Any advice for me?


P.S. The Playground’s Problem Child is guest blogging today at the I Heart Presents blog. Check it out!

P.P.S. Tomorrow is a very special day over at Publisher’s Weekly columnist Barbara Vey’s blog! Barbara told us about this over our annual breakfast at Nationals and you will love it!!! From Barbara: Tuesday, July 28th will be the world premiere of a very special Drive By Video™ that I put together at Thrillerfest. It's starring 8 super men authors and tells a story. This is a not to be missed event. There will be prizes and a poll (a la American Idol).


Maven Linda said...

Don't answer the phone.

I'm serious. If it's important, they'll leave a message or call back. Same goes for your cell phone. And let family know that you'll be checking your messages at a certain time, but not before then.

Of course, you'll be checking your messages before then, because if it's a honest crisis you need to know, but the chats and "oh, since you don't work, would you mind blah blah blah" stuff can all wait.

Christine said...

Ditto on the phone--it's a tool, not a dictator.

Two things:
1) write first, internet and emails are a reward. They come last.
2) set aside one day for errands and only run them on that day. Try to make appointments for doctors, etc., on that day as well or after your writing times.

Enjoy the first day of school!

Christine said...

Oh, almost forgot: know the people who talk longest and wait till you have time to talk before you call them back or call them. I've got two here that I love, but they don't hang up. And if it's Long Distance, I make sure I've got time. At least, I try to. Life does happen.

Linda Winstead Jones said...

Ditto on the phone. And don't hesitate to tell everyone that you work from x to x everyday, and if they want to call and it's not an emergency, please wait until x. My family knows not to call in the morning, because that's my most productive time. They wait until lunchtime, or afternoon. And even then -- if I'm on a roll those times go out the window, and that's when they can leave a message.

Long after I was published, my grandmother would call to ask for something, because I was the only one who didn't work. She was well into her 90s so I always answered. Everyone else can wait.

And when I have errands to run, I do them all at once. I make the rounds. Post office, bank, grocery store, home. No running out every day, or every other day, for one purpose.

Good luck! :-)


Playground Monitor said...

My youngest graduated from high school 8 years ago and I still struggle with this. What can I say? I'm easily distracted.

I agree about the phone. Even my sister who has no gadgets got caller ID on her office phone because she said $7 a month was cheaper than a secretary. My phone sits right by my computer so I can see who's calling. If it's urgent I take the call; if not, the machine picks it up.

I had to laugh when LJ said her grandmother would call because she was the only one who didn't work. All mothers are working mothers and now you have a writing career on top of that.

Another tip is to learn to say "NO" so you don't get yourself over-scheduled. And if you don't already, keep a desk calendar so you're not depending on your brain to remember it all.

Problem Child said...

Hmm, my blog at IHP isn't up yet. Curious...

I only have one piece of advice for Angel, and that's don't let the fact you have a long stretch of time make you think you have more time to waste. It's easy to think, "wow, I have six hours today without kids, I'll surf YouTube for a while. I'll still have plenty of time to get stuff done."

It never works out the way I think it will....

M.V.Freeman said...

Actually, I have nothing more to add, in fact, I need to take this advice. :)

Instigator said...

Yeah, I agree with PC. I'll often end up doing nothing productive writing wise because I had day job stuff in the morning, I'll just check a few sites over lunch and then...somehow it's 3:30 and I'm leaving in an hour.

I also agree with running errands once a week. I grocery shop on Sundays. That is it. If I forget it or someone didn't tell me we needed something then we do without until the next Sunday.


LeaannS said...

1. Put the school's office phone number in your caller ID so you know if they call. That's the only number I answer if I'm working. Of course, the school nurse at our school calls on her cell phone, which is truly annoying because then no name comes up. I finally put that number in my cell phone, too!

2. Schedule exercise into the beginning of your day, as soon as you drop the kids off. Once I start ANYTHING, I won't go back to exercise, so I get it out of the way first. This is the best time to get yourself as healthy as possible since you have fewer interruptions. It is easier to take an hour out of the beginning of your day and get it over with than to try to arrange it later. I actually put on my exercise clothes to take the kids to school so I am ready to start as soon as I walk back in the door.

Angel said...

Wow! This is some great advice. I'm definitely figuring out that I have to at least start on my priority projects first thing in the morning. Before I know it, most of the day is gone and I don't feel like working on it later. But, if I start writing in the morning, even for an hour, I have no problem coming back to it later in the day.

Leaann, I started the "exercise as soon as I dropped them off" thing last year and it works great!

Looks like I'm going to need even bigger doses of my self-control as this goes along. Thanks, ladies!


Betty Bolte said...

I loved it when I could be home writing while my two kids were at school. I was very productive then, unlike now when I have to juggle the full-time job with family responsibilities and writing. My best advice is to focus on your writing, which is your job/career, and ignore the dishes in the sink, the phone (as everyone has mentioned), the lure of an excuse to get online or to go shopping. Exercising first thing not only gets it out of the way but energizes your brain, and gives you chance to think about what you will write later, too. My best ideas come while I take a walk, when I can squeeze that into my day! I'm envious of your at home alone time to write. Enjoy!

Kathy said...

Uh, evidentally I still have much to learn...