A Writerly Dilemma

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Today is one of those days where the sky looks like a dingy cotton sock, the kind that no bleach can make bright again. The clouds aren’t doing anything, really, they’re just sitting there, a solid, overarching mass, hanging in glumly.

Sounds about right for a Monday.

And today I find myself with a dilemma. As any writer knows, the well of writing is not infinite, you can only write for so many hours in a day. And in doing so, you have to prioritize your projects.

Regular visitors might recall that I was recently involved in the writing and creation of a comedy sketch show at the Second City Training Center, a show that was sold out for all four weeks of the run. And now my fellow writers want to mount the show again, but this time with some new material.

New material which needs to be generated. Of course.

It is an incredibly talented group, and each one, I am certain, will go on and do amazing things, perhaps together, perhaps individually. And the idea of another show certainly has appeal. But the question is, do I want to sink my writing energy into new sketches, into this format that, as we know, has never quite fit me comfortably?

This is going to be a lot of work, and while a lot of work doesn’t faze me, my books have been long neglected. I find it difficult to do the sketch writing and my fiction at the same time.

So what to do?

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Writing Productivity is a Process

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So summer came and went, and I find I haven’t gotten as much done as I would have liked. I’m still editing, I haven’t finished my first draft of the manuscript I’m working on, and I’m not quite sure where, exactly, the time has gone.

I did deal with challenges this summer, mostly in the form of unbelievable noise, the kind that takes up cozy residence inside of your skull, and no doubt that impacted my ability to focus. Still, I can’t help but feel that the track and I have parted ways.

But that’s the beauty of this kind of work. Forward progress–any forward progress–is still progress. Sometimes sideways progress is progress too, because once in a while, sideways is just the direction to get you where you’re going.

Is it rationalization? Perhaps, but if you don’t give yourself credit for the small things, it’s easy to get lost in the huge and looming picture. Step by step is the only way to get anywhere, and it’s OK if it takes a while to get to the next one now and then.

Productivity is a process. It doesn’t always operate at maximum efficiency, and that’s OK too.

Have a minute? Watch this video.

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Time Is a Slippery Thing

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Time is strange. It can tick so slowly away, moment by moment, each dragging longer than the last, a phenomenon best known while waiting in line at that one place you really didn’t want to go but couldn’t put the errand off any longer. Then clumps of it mush together, and just when you’re getting used to not bundling up to stick your head outside, suddenly we’re staring at the end of summer.

How can the small parts go so slowly and the large so quickly? It seems as though it must defy physics. Yet it happens, again and again, where you suddenly look up and it’s just not when it used to be.

You can try to be mindful of it, sure, carve it out into blocks, dole it out bit by bit, crumb by crumb. But time’s indifferent to such shenanigans. It moves as it wishes, which, coincidentally, always seems to be the opposite of the way we wish it would.

Perhaps it is one of those things we need to give the room to do what it will, behave as it will, because it’s not as though it listens to us, anyway. It should remain constant, but it bends and shapes itself as it wants. Best that we can do is smile, nod, and play along.

Need something to read? Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) .

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Treat Every Unwanted Task Like a Trip to the Dentist

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Yesterday, I had to go to the dentist, something I, like millions of others, do not enjoy doing. Actually, who does enjoy going to the dentist? Seriously. Even when your dental professionals are awesome people, as mine are. Whoever you are, dental appointment enjoyers, there might be something wrong with you.

Anyway, it was one of those things. No matter how much I talked to myself about how I didn’t want to go, it didn’t matter. I was going.

It got me thinking. Why not apply that attitude to other things in life that we just don’t want to do? I mean the ones that need to be done, not the ones like jumping out of planes, which only needs to be done under very limited, self-evident, circumstances. Those tasks that nag at us, or frighten us, or we simply don’t want to bother with, but need doing.

Like most people, when faced with something I’d rather not be doing, tiny voices assure me that it’s fine, I’ll do it later. And later. And later, until later subtly shifts over to that sneaky category of “never.”

But what if it becomes non-negotiable? In the case of my dental appointment, I didn’t want to wast the time of the hygienist who would be seeing me. I didn’t want to be charged for the appointment I’d confirmed. And I knew on a basic level that I needed to go.

It’s easy to lose accountability when the accountability is to yourself, and yet that’s the let-down that does you the most harm.

Need something to read? Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) .

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It’s Not Procrastination. Unless It Is

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OK, it’s not procrastination. I swear. It might look like procrastination, and it might sound like procrastination, but really it wasn’t.

I had to get the weather widget back on my phone.

You see, I’d taken it off because it wasn’t updating. The weather being what it is right now–which is changeable and arbitrary–I absolutely need to have it at my fingertips. And yes, you’re right, it’s technically at my fingertips in a myriad of ways, including going online on the phone itself to find it, but why do that when there’s supposed to be a widget?

So it took me an embarrassing amount of time to figure out how to get a widget, and not an app button, back where it belonged. And then it wouldn’t update again. So I downloaded some others, and now the widget expert that I’ve become, I tried them out.

I found one I liked better.

Incidentally, “widget” used to be a word that we used to stand in for nothing in particular. You talked about someone selling widgets for an example of whatever concept it was, usually contracts. Now a widget is an actual thing. How about that.

Anyway, I could try to turn this thing into a lesson on deviating from your set plan and ending up somewhere nicer than where you aimed to go, but I’ll ‘fess up.

It was procrastination. And you know what? I’d do it again.

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Time to Contemplate Time

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about time. That’s not unusual, really, time is fascinating. Just ask the Doctor. Or Marty McFly. Or Amber in my book The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management. Actually, strike that. Don’t ask Amber, she might have a different opinion of it all together.

It’s so intractable in its dogged, forward motion that we can’t help but look at it and wonder, what if it wasn’t? What if we had some control, what if we could delve back into the foggy reaches of the past, or drive ourselves onward into the future?

It probably wouldn’t turn out so well. In fact, we can be sure it wouldn’t turn out so well. Some laws of physics are there for a reason, I guess.

For something so abstract, it sure has a concrete effect on our lives. It’s our constant companion, ticking away at us, reminding us that now will not always be now. It’s no wonder we fantasize about making it beholden to us instead of the other way around.

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I’m Not Getting a Passing Grade in Time Management

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Tasks are like water. They flow and ooze to fit the container they’re given, not matter the size and the shape. In my case, it’s not even a conscious decision. If I give myself a bigger window, I’ll swing it open until the sash meets the frame, every single time.

I start out with good intentions. Sometimes I set timers, and that helps, shrinking the window to more of a pass-through. But other times, my brain rebels, it stalls and sputters and insists that whatever needs to be done can’t be done quite at this time, but don’t worry, requests are being taken in the order in which they are received.

Yeah, right. Meanwhile it’s prioritizing the stack of shows on my TiVo.

One thing I’ve learned fighting my true procrastinating nature is that many things take far less time than you think that they will. Sometimes they become huge in my mind, crammed with the hassle that I imagine they hold, and then, boom, I’m finished almost before I’ve started.

Writing’s never one of those things, though. Writing is it’s own animal, and it takes as long as it’s going to take.

At least, that’s what I tell myself.