Monday, November 16, 2009

Smell the Roses

As writers we're often reminded that we need to take time to smell the roses. When someone tells us this, it usually means they believe we're working too hard and need to take a little time off for play.

I'm guilty. But sometimes I'm not.

Each day my goal is to write a certain number of words, edit a certain number of chapters, whatever. Running here and there or chatting with neighbors or playing too much with the doggies . . . it all takes time. Not to mention laundry and vacuuming dog hair and other yukky things.

Some days, I meet my writing goal by three o'clock. Some days, six. Some days - not too many - I don't meet it.

Those are the days when I encounter a problem and spend the time on research or deciding which fork in the road will cause the most problems for my protagonist. I don't meet my word goal, but the time is spent constructively on writing, so that works for me.

And some days, too many real life things I can't ignore - perceived necessities like buying food or going to the dentist - converge and I don't write at all.

It's when I have too many of the 6:00 p.m. days in a row that my live-in handyman notices and tells me I spend too much time at the computer and need to take a break. No matter how many times I tell him those six o'clock days are the ones where I've spent too much time away from the computer, he doesn't quite get it.

So I've learned to live with it because I love living with him. And I've learned roses have a delightful aroma that doesn't make me sneeze.

16 comments:

Terry Odell said...

Hubby tells me I'm working too hard every now and again, and suggests that I find another task, but if I tell him I'm on a roll, or working to a goal, he's cool with it.

Helen Ginger said...

I'm the one telling my husband that he works too hard.

I need to be more organized and less prone to drifting off schedule.

Helen
Straight From Hel

Stephen Tremp said...

My wife and I need to practice taking more Sabboths, sabaticals, vacations, weekend getaways, and such. Life's too short. Sometimes you have to eat dessert first.

Stephen Tremp

Jackie Houchin said...

Roses. Ah, that delightful posie of poems, so sweetly fragrant (especially Mr. Lincoln) but so militantly guarded by those wicked thorns. (Gads, where am I going with this?)
Oh, yes, smelling them. I admire your goals Carol and your keeping them most of the time. Perhaps if you cut some of those lofty blooms and put in a vase beside your PC, you can do both. (Unless you have a cat like mine who insists on tipping over ANYthing that has liquid in it.) :o) LOVE your posts! Always keep them as one of your goals.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

If I don't take certain time away from actual writing my writing reaches new heights of stinkdom. I do try to work every day on my current project, but some days I'll spend doing research or thinking about how to word certain passages. Or I'll work on another shorter project which can give me end-joy a great deal quicker!

Elspeth

Galen Kindley--Author said...

I’m pretty good at balancing what needs to be done with what I actually do and what I want to do. However, this year…for a variety of reasons…I didn’t go fishing as much as I wanted. That will have to stop!!! Gotta figure out how to move fishing onto the Must Do column. Ha.

Best Regards, Galen

Imagineering Fiction Blog

Sheila Deeth said...

Those goals tend to chase after me, but don't run as fast as husband and sons, who always seem to have more important stuff that I have to do.

Carol Kilgore said...

Terry - That works for me if I'm nearing the end. He knows how hard I push to finish. Not so much any other time.

Helen - I don't know how much I'm organized - probably not much. But I do need structure in my days or I get lost and don't accomplish anything.

Stephen - Dessert first! My live-in handyman's motto :)

Jackie - Thank you. I'm happy you enjoy reading my words here. If I don't have goals and reach them every once in a while I become as prickly as those darn thorns.

Elspeth - When I'm writing first draft, I try not to think about the words. Usually I'm transcribing the movie in my head. Sometimes I think something truly telling - like "her face reflected the horror she felt." I know it's bad but I keep it knowing I'll edit later. When I'm editing, I try not to dwell, but it's more difficult. I make several editing passes, so each time I get it as good as I can on that round. It's the final edit where I spend the most time thinking about the exactness of it all.

Carol Kilgore said...

Galen - Writing is solidly in my "Must Do" column. Fishing, not so much. But I did finally figure out a way to move reading for pleasure into that column. Along with not writing for at least one day a week, sometimes two.

Sheila - Yes, here, too. Isn't it funny how that's always the case.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I remember when I worked at a full-time job, one that required lots of extra hours, sometimes even on weekends. How did I find the time then to do all the stuff I now claim interferes with my writing time? It's clearly because I no longer hesitate to stop and smell the roses.

Carol Kilgore said...

I'm a big believer in balance. So even if I'm a workaholic when I'm pushing to finish, I take a break before I start again. I think the real thing for me is being able to stick to a schedule, as much as that sounds like a rut to those for whom schedules and structure aren't too important. I guess I'm pretty far from being called impulsive.

cassandrajade said...

If it isn't my husband telling me I'm spending too much time at the computer it will be my cat. Quite pointedly. She doesn't like being ignored for too long, particularly if I'm still typing when she's decided it is time to eat. Thanks for sharing this post.

Carol Kilgore said...

Cats are like that. Dogs, too. But we love them anyway.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I tell myself that I am only going to spend so much time doing a particular task, but then I give myself five more minutes, then five more and so on until it’s too late to get the other stuff done, so I often end up doing more at night than I’d like to (and more than my husband would like me to) – but someday I’m going to learn to listen to myself when I say stop!

Carol Kilgore said...

First I learned I needed a daily goal. I tried a certain number of pages and found myself stretching to get at least one word on a new page and counting it as a full page. Scratch that one. I tried the time thing. Learned I can goof off with the best of them during "writing time." Right now the word goal is working. I hope it continues. I do stop when I reach my goal - sometimes a little beyond to finish a sentence, paragraph, or just a little more to complete the thought. Anything else I have in mind, I make 1-2 word notes about. It leaves me ready to begin the next day. I don't always have anything else in mind :)

Laura Eno said...

With nano, I've forgotten what a rose is...