The Best-Laid Plans

Posted by on April 11, 2014 in writing | 2 comments

Often, I’m asked what it’s like to write full-time.  Generally, I answer by explaining that I write on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and I do all my admin work (publicity, promotion, marketing, website updating, etc.) on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I restrict my socializing to Tuesdays and Thursdays as well, and I fold in grocery shopping, laundry, and other errands on those days.

But that’s only part of the story.

Every day, I have a to-do list, outlining the specific tasks I need to accomplish.  But some days, new emergencies arise, knocking that to-do list to hell and back.  Take yesterday as an example.

Interruptions

Yesterday was a packed day.  I had my exercise class first thing in the morning, and then a long list of publicity and promotion items for the Diamond Brides Series.  I intended to knock off work early, at 2:15, because I had tickets for my first Nationals game of the year, which had a 4:00 start.  (Spoiler: They won, 7-1!  Yay!)

So, I settled down to work quickly and efficiently after my exercise class.  And in my inbox (newly arrived since my scan of my inbox upon awakening) was a new contract to review.  The contract is for me to grant new rights to a publisher for works previously published; it’s an interesting opportunity, but it requires some reading, parsing of options, and decision-making.  I squared away that document and got back to work.

And a new thing hit my inbox:  a new writer who I’ve been mentoring was getting ready to launch a book on Nook Press (Barnes & Noble’s ebook publishing arm.)  He needed an .epub version of his document — stat.  (And for a variety of reasons, including the amazingly cool volunteer work he’s doing in Sierra Leone, I’m generating his ebooks for him.)  Time out to create an .epub of his book.  I squared away that project and got back to work.

And then the phone rang.  A recruitment company was calling to ask for my reference for a woman who worked for me several years ago. (The woman had recently asked if I would serve as a reference, which I agreed to do, gladly.)  The recruiter wasn’t expecting me to be home, apparently, because she’d only left herself ten minutes before she had to go to a meeting.  She begged my indulgence, rang off, and then called back half an hour later.  I squared away that interview and got back to work.

Ultimately, I completely my to-do list, even with those three fairly substantial additions to the morning.  But a writer’s life is never calm and boring and predictable.

I have strategies for dealing with the interruptions — I close my inbox for chunks of time during the day; I only answer phone calls from known numbers during the day, etc.  But sometimes, the best-laid plans…

How about you?  How do you cope with interruptions in your daily work?  Do you protect your creative work with the same vigor?

So I’m going to hit “publish” on this post, before something can interrupt me :-)

2 Comments

  1. The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
    Gang aft agley,

    An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
    For promis’d joy!

    – Robert Burns, 1785

    Nowadays I play the Galician gaita as a form of creative outlet, and I have an audio recorder handy to capture any nifty tunes which spring into my head.

    The beauty of playing bagpipes is that I can’t hear any interruptions. Not even Cujo, our neighbor’s psychotic Rottweiler.

    On the literary side of things, I’ll observe that Jerry Pournelle, a long-time science fiction and technology writer, has a room upstairs in his house called the Monk’s Cell. It’s completely disconnected from the Internet and other distractions, so he retires there whenever he needs to get creative work done.

    Regards,

    Bob Shepard of Denver

    • Bagpipes get a bad rap! (As do recorders…) If played *well*, they can be gorgeous…

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