Friday, November 4, 2011

The Fine Art of Juggling Time

by Susan McBride

Although I consider myself pretty adept at a lot of different things, balancing my time wisely is not one of them.  No matter how old I get--and how much wiser in other departments--I don't seem to have completely grasped the concept that you cannot agree to do 200 things in a finite amount of time and get all of them done. 

I always think I can do it.  Take this year, for example.  I told myself, sure, I can do revisions on Little Black Dress in the first few months, go through the copy edit, check the page proofs, and all else that the production schedule demands of me, PLUS write the first draft of Dead Address, the young adult mystery for Random House AND promote Little Black Dress upon release in late August THEN pen my next women's fiction book, Little White Lies, all by December 1.  Oh, yeah, and that's not counting all the real-life hoo-ha that comes in between (take my lovely encounter with skin cancer and Moh's surgery in May, for instance). 

Piece of cake, yes?

Well, I imagined it would be.  I mean, I kept reminding myself I'd written two books for my two different publishers while going through my boobal crisis nearly five years ago.  I know I'm not Superwoman (at least, not one who doesn't constantly trip on her cape), but I seem to want to play one on TV.  Or at least in my writing life. 

I used to always meet deadlines.  Heck, I'd turn things in early.  I was such an overachiever that at the first lunch I ever had with my agent and then-mystery editor half a dozen years ago, they remarked on how efficient I was.  "Like a robot," one of them actually said (though I can't recall which). 

But back then, I was single.  I had myself, two cats, and a condo to worry about.  It was like living on another planet.  Once I'd met Ed, bought a house with him, dealt with a health crisis, got married, and took on even more responsibilities, I told myself, "You aren't a robot.  You're human.  You can only do what you can do."  That's a mantra I repeat often, so I'm not sure why it hasn't completely sunk in. 

I still want to say, "yes, I can do that!"  Even if I worry that it's adding yet another ball to the ones I'm juggling.  "No problem!" I chirp when asked to do things spur of the moment when I realize I should be focusing on writing books and not scattering my energy and time all over the place.

In some ways, I have gotten better about time. I don't travel nearly as much as I used to.  I do say "no" when an event isn't doable.  I don't do Twitter (and never intend to), I'm not LinkedIn or GooglePlussed or anything besides Facebooked.  I'm on two group blogs with other incredible women authors who are busy balancing their real lives and writing lives, too.

And, still, I find myself in binds over and over, where I know at least one thing won't get done on time.  Where I realize I'll have to ask for an extension in order to finish my work and do it right.  Man, I hate that.

I'm learning.  That's all I can say.  Every year when I do too much, I understand the things that I need to cut out the next time.  It might be years before I'm a master at the fine art of juggling time, but I will get there.  So long as no one gives me a deadline.


  1. very hard to balance time in nowadays, but if you get to do this then can tell that you a happy person)

  2. I don't really have a lot of work commitments today so you would think that this would be a good day to hunker down and right, correct? Well, dog needs to go to vet, need to call insurance company, need to finish the leftover laundry that didn't get done because of the power outage...why does everything take precedence over writing? A post for another time, maybe? Maggie

  3. Maggie, that *always* happens. I have yet to get in a full week of writing without interruptions, no matter how clear I keep my calendar. It's like we manage to write books in spite of everything. How we do it, I think, is a mystery! Hope you get all your errands done quickly so you can have a little writing time!

  4. I know it always feels like I can postpone writing in order to do other things because I can write anytime. If things come up during the day, I can always write at night, right? Um...right. Or not. Between the tot and the husband and the house and the voice students there is always something ready to take away from writing time. It is a battle to find time to write because it isn't a 9-5 job. Here is wishing you lots of writing time! (I'm kind of wishing I find that time, too!)

  5. Thanks, Joelle! I've got this month and next dedicated to writing so hopefully I'll get this book done (I plan to!). You're exactly right about stuff coming up and putting off writing. That always happens! Here's hoping you get some good writing time in this month, too! :-)

  6. Here's hoping you all get some good writing time in. And get your chores done, and have family time, uh oh. I see why it's so hard!

  7. Lil, I'm hoping I'll get a clone for Christmas. ;-)