Saturday, March 27, 2010

Getting Your Sh*t Together

In keeping with my current thought processes on organization and maximum production, I thought today i'd write about something that really gets me steamed. 

Yesterday, I confided my struggles in staying organized. That organization is essential if I'm to get every accomplished that I need to. So today, I want to talk about the flip side of the coin--keeping your shit together.

The writing relationship is interdependent with other people; it has to be.  Writers rely on cover artists, editors, proofreaders, beta readers and promotional experts to get their books not only ready for publication but out there in the public eye.  All the people in this chain have to be able to depend upon the others to get their work done well and in a timely manner.  Waiting for someone else to hold up their end of the stick is not only annoying, it's costly. 

If, for example, I'm editing a book for an author, she is going to rely upon me to get those edits done quickly and thoroughly and get them to her.  She can't proceed with her story until I've gone through that manuscript and made the necessary corrections--spelling, grammar, telling her what works and what doesn't and generally helping her to find ways to strengthen it.  If I decide to jack around and go play in Walmart for a few days, leaving her manuscript on my desk collecting dust, I'm not just affecting me.  I'm affecting the writer--who's stuck, the cover artist--who's waiting for the author's manuscript to be done, the proofers--who can't do their work until I've done mine, the promotional people--can't publicize excerpts if they aren't ready, and the publisher--this should be obvious.  If the edits drag on, the release date of the book can be delayed or pushed back.  This will impact people that I don't ever interact with and probably don't even know--the website manager, for example, or the third party sites that have to be informed the manuscript won't be ready.  And the domino effect continues all the way to someone's living room (maybe yours) who is waiting anxiously for that book from your favorite author to come out and is horribly disappointed when it doesn't. So playing at Walmart instead of editing may not seem that important at the time, but the end result might be the loss of readers for that author.

Laid out like that, it's kind of daunting, isn't it? Sure--procrastination is a fault many people share.  I am the queen of procrastination when it comes to things like washing the dishes or making an appointment at the vet.  But with writing--whether it's mine or someone else's--I can't afford to put things off.  I have to do my work to the best of my ability and as expeditiously as possible. 

So take a minute and think about what effects your procrastination might have. Think about who you're affecting with your inability to get things done when they're supposed to be done. Then sit down and try to figure out a way to alleviate your desire to put things off and see how it affects you overall.

And above all, get your shit together.  For every moment that you delay, you're wasting someone else's time. 

A Plan...and a Schedule-- Celina's "A Month In The Life"

I was making out a list today. I'm a professional list-maker.  I don't make grocery lists; I make life lists.  Sometimes I try to make a real schedule for my day and stick to it.

I usually don't.  I'm too easily distracted.

Unfortunately, I have so much to get done over the next month that I don't dare attempt it without being very strict about how I'm going to spend my time.  Between writing deadlines, editing deadlines, promotional deadlines and the convention, if I don't schedule my meals I won't be able to remember to eat.  Yesterday I literally forgot to eat.  Although missing a few meals won't hurt me--and after my butchery appointment at the dentist's yesterday eating very well might have hurt--that's not really the best weight loss program I could follow.  So I'm hanging out with my calendar and my appointment book and I am making a schedule for every day in the month of April.

And then I started to think.  A lot of people have asked me, "Celina, how in the world do you manage to get everything done?"  So, I decided that maybe in April I'll show them. My journal has been stapled to my side for the past few months anyway.  So beginning on April 1, I'm going to use my blog in lieu of my journal.  I'm going to post my schedule every morning and while I'm working, I'll make notes in my journal about my progress.  You'll be able to track my word counts, my distractions (mostly a couple of TV shows and the daily crisis call from someone in my family) and my deadlines.  You'll know just about as soon as I will if I screw everything up (which will happen, I guarantee you) or if I exceed my goals for the day.  If nothing else, it might help some of the younger writers who wonder how an author whose last name isn't Rowling can manage to survive financially while writing full-time or how I can manage to split my time between writing and editing.

Make no mistake--it's a buttload of work. My eighteen hour days are not a myth.

And, as an added bonus, I'll keep that blog/journal going throughout the Romantic Times convention.  You'll know who I met, what I did and what was notable about the workshops and events I attended.  If, towards the end of the day at RT my typing becomes worse, you'll know I'm updating my post in the bar. 

What good is a convention without a Happy Hour?  I ask you!

Heck--I'll even do a play-by-play of my pitch sessions.  Benefits for everyone...

So brace yourselves.  For the entire month of April, you get to walk that proverbial mile in my shoes--and if we're lucky, neither one of us will trip over my big feet.