Saturday, April 9, 2011

My Agenda, Not Yours

How many times have you felt so overwhelmed you didn't know where to start?  You have to balance so much as a writer.  Most of us have families to care for, and even if we don't have children, we have other responsibilities, such as possibly a full-time job.  And I mean, honestly, we need to make time away from writing activities too - we need to have a social life, "fun-time".

24 hours

That's number we all start out with each day.  Sounds like a lot of potential, doesn't it?  But then, let's factor in sleep.  Right there, we'll cut out an average of eight hours.  That leaves us with 16 hours. 

Now, many of us have full-time jobs.  Cut another 9 hours (which allows for 8hrs work, and 1 hr commute total).  What now?  That's right (simple math, I can handle this) 7 hrs.

From that 7 hrs, deduct approximately 4 hrs for hygiene, preparing meals, and eating.  We now have 3 hours a day to use during the work week.  Come the weekend, we gain back 12hrs/day Saturday and Sunday (no work and commute.)  This gives us a total of 39hrs a week.  Does it sound like a lot?  Right off the top shave more commuting/travel time if your work is further away.  And think about it, usually weekly, you have to shop for groceries, if you're a parent, you have to care for your child (or children), spend time with them in play and instruction.  We have domestic responsibilities such as housecleaning and laundry, to take care of.  We also need to have some time for recreation, and/or a social life with friends.  Factor in as well, most of us exercise, if not daily, at least a couple times weekly.
*Based on a week day for a full-time working person
Let's just say that 24hrs/day can be really deceiving when we actually might only have a few hours "extra" a week.  Then as writers, we have to write.  We may have a website or blog to maintain.  We may beta read for others.  We have to develop compelling queries, and intriguing synopses.  We need to speed time editing, and refining.

Sometimes, it's hard to balance the demands on our time.  As a writer who cares about other writers, we may feel guilty not responding to personal emails, or requests for beta help right away.  Maybe we have too much going on to beta for others.  We shouldn't feel guilty about it.  We give when we can, but we also have to think about ourselves too.  If we don't spend time on our work, then how are we supposed to ready it for query, land an agent, and get published?

Please know, I'm not saying to turn our back on our fellow writers - far from it!  I'm just saying that sometimes we have to remember ourselves in the craziness of life.  Maybe you're like me, and feel the incessant need to reply to emails, or other correspondence immediately.  What would it hurt for it to "sit" for a while, especially if you're in the middle of something?  After all, we all have priorities, but mine are not yours, and yours are not mine.

I'm going to end this post with some words that I've drawn from over the last couple weeks.  It comes from a good writer friend of mine, Jennifer Schubert*, who gave me permission to quote her.  She had originally shared it on a popular online forum for writers (AbsoluteWrite).
"I cannot control everyone. I can control myself, and I will do what I need to do. I will do my work, and sometimes yours too, but there are only so many hours in a day and I have zero control over how important other people feel this job/issue is. If, at the end of the day, I have done all the things that I need to do, then I need to stop worrying about it.
We're all waiting for someone to take us seriously, aren't we? Our query. Our partial, our full, our training schedule. But everyone has their own timeline. Everyone has a list of things that are important to them, and my priorities are not theirs.
That's okay."
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*You can see Jennifer Schubert's guest post appearance on Welcome Mat Wednesday here.