#ReVISIONweek Day 4: REVISE YOUR SCHEDULE (OTHERWISE KNOWN AS– SAY NO TO DISTRACTIONS

Wahoo, #ReVISIONweek-ers! You’ve made it over hump day.

The revision train is full steam ahead as we enter day 4.

train race GIF by Burger Records

I hope you’ve picked up a few new tricks and feel good about the revisions you’ve made so far.

Today’s post is all about PROTECTING WRITING TIME by the talented and amazingly funny, Michal Babay. Stay-tuned, Michal will be announcing extremely exciting news soon! I just know her post will help you prioritize your writing time. To your writing heart, you must be true…

olivia newton-john GIF

By Michal Babay

Last year, after nearly missing a writing deadline because life kept distracting me, I had an epiphany.

It was time to revise…

EVERYTHING!

Well, everything writing related: my schedule, focus, and priorities.  

Here’s what happened:

As soon as I heard about Tara Luebbe’s mentorship program, Writing With the Stars, I couldn’t wait! I immediately pulled up the application page and filled in my name, my dream mentor’s name, and the date. 

Then…my cat barfed. 

On the nice rug.

So I put our three dogs outside (they’d begun “helping” me clean up), wiped down the rug, opened windows for non-barfy air, and gave the cat fresh food/water. 

And since I was already in the kitchen refilling her water, I washed dishes, wiped down counters, ate a sandwich, tripped over a suitcase left by the door, yelled at my empty house, let the dogs back in, called my daughter’s school to arrange a meeting, called my son’s school to arrange a meeting, called my old principal to discuss those meetings, realized it was my day to pick up carpool, grabbed the keys, and I was outta there.

It wasn’t until weeks later, right before the due date, that I realized I’d never completed my application. In desperation, I pulled an “almost” all nighter. And it was miserable.

Time. It all comes back to time. 

As in, how should I spend it?

What are my priorities TODAY?

Where did it go?!

As a die-hard procrastinator and pantser, it takes a few tricks to get my butt in chair (BIC) and stay focused. Luckily, there’s a world of wisdom out there from writers wiser than myself, and I’ve gathered a few to share: 

Trick 1: Make writing part of your daily schedule. 

Writing requires time. We all know this. We’ve read the craft books and we realize those words aren’t going to write themselves. 

BUT… life.

We all have numerous demands on our time (day jobs, kids, elderly parents, etc.). However, we can’t let those demands kill our dreams.

In order to take ourselves seriously as writers, the work must be part of our daily schedule. 

Some ways to do this are:

  • Find a time that works for you, and stick to it: Join the 6 a.m. club (or 3 p.m. club, or even the 11 p.m. club if necessary!). 

Here’s what RJ Palacio says about her writing process for WONDER:

“It took me about a year and a half to write WONDER. The only time of day that I could find to write, since I had a full-time job and two young children to keep me busy during the day, was in the middle of the night, so I got into this routine where I would wake up at midnight and write til 3 am. I did that every night until I finished the first draft of the book.”

  • Now realistically, some days our schedules go out the window. Life happens.

  That just means it’s time for yet another revision!

Look for hidden pockets of time in those crazy days: doctor’s waiting rooms, kid’s soccer practice, while the noodles boil, etc. 

Instead of playing games, write.

A friend of mine revised her manuscript in hospital waiting rooms. And that manuscript? It’s a published book now!

A story written in 5-minute increments is still a story.

  • How do you revise in a hospital waiting room if your computer is at home? So glad you asked! Use Google Docs. This way, as long as you’re holding a smartphone, you’ll always have access to your manuscripts. Revise your stories anytime, anywhere!

But, speaking of phones…

Trick 2: Put your cell phone AWAY! 

When you are able to dedicate a solid chunk of time to writing, that phone needs to disappear. 

Seriously.

It’s time to revise your focus!

  • Turn your cell phone to silent and put it away (FAR AWAY. Like, the other side of your house, in a closet, or under that giant pile of mail). The farther away you are from those distracting pings and dings, the more focused and productive you’ll be.

Psychology Today published an article about this:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/why-bad-looks-good/201807/how-your-cell-phone-habits-impact-your-productivity

But, it’s hard saying good-bye for a long time. How long is long enough?

Trick 3: Use a timer

This will vary for each of us. For me, 60-minute writing chunks work best. That way I get into the flow and my BIC doesn’t get too sore. 

And guess what? I’ve found that most days, even after my hour ends (and I’ve indulged in coffee/food/ and some doggy attention) the work has taken root in my psyche and it calls me back to the computer. So I revise my schedule and reset that timer.

My critique partner, Lauren Kerstein, taught me this trick, and it’s been a game changer!

Here’s the basic 60-minute sand timer I use:  

No photo description available.

But, what about those days that you don’t feel like working?

Trick 4: Find an accountability partner. 

Set a goal with an accountability partner for days when you’re really struggling to focus. 

Then …hold each other accountable! 

The knowledge that another author is expecting an email with my latest WIP or revision is enough to get me moving. Now!

To this end, my critique partner, Katie Frawley, and I designed a writing challenge specifically targeted at lighting a fire under our butts.

And we cleverly named it: #FireButtChallenge.

If you’re interested in joining us, write us on Twitter at @KatieFrawley1 or @MicBabay, and we’ll tag you next time we spring a #FireButtChallenge on the world!

Trick 5: If it’s not one of the B’s (bleeding, barfing, broken bones) IT CAN WAIT!

As you saw above, a number of distractions led me away from my writing. So I’ve learned to say NO to anything that takes away my writing time (which explains why I tripped over that suitcase instead of putting it away).

Of course, there are hundreds more ways to revise your schedule and find time to write.

Your challenge now is to identify the key distractions in your life, and work to minimize their impact. 

What’s YOUR favorite tip?

Let’s work together to revise our schedules, and thus, revise our writing!

————————————————————–

Michal and Lauren (2)

Michal Babay was born in Israel, raised in Arizona, and currently lives in Southern California with her husband and three kids. After many years as an elementary school teacher and resource specialist, Michal decided to say “YES” to her writing dreams. She now spends her days wrangling teenagers, telling the dogs to stop barking, ignoring cat barf, and saying “NO” to distractions. Michal is represented by Laurel Symonds at The Bent Agency. You can follow Michal on Twitter at: @MicBabay. You can also visit Michal’s website at http://www.MichalBabay.com.

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145 thoughts on “#ReVISIONweek Day 4: REVISE YOUR SCHEDULE (OTHERWISE KNOWN AS– SAY NO TO DISTRACTIONS

  1. Yes! I have three young kids and have to carve out bits of writing time here and there. When my youngest dropped her afternoon nap I started setting a timer for both of us. She needed to play independently during that time and I needed to write, but then summer happened. Thank you for the reminder to get back to it (and maybe then I will not get started writing at 9:30 PM).

    • It’s really hard sticking to a schedule in the summer when kids are everywhere. But it’s a great idea to start the timer again now that everyone else is back at school Good luck and happy writing!

  2. I think the chores are such a distraction because it’s finite and achievable. That’s hard to come by when writing. I’ve recently begun to schedule chore breaks. I’m finding it easier to leave the chores knowing I’ll get to it at the scheduled time. Early days in this new format…hoping it works.

    • So true! So true! There are few tasks in life that are finite and achievable. And yet, at some point, you will finish that manuscript, sell it, and see it on the shelf! I just know it! You will achieve your goal!

    • I love this idea! My chore time is in the afternoon (or during 15 minute stretch breaks in the morning). It’s so much easier to focus when I know there’s a set time for chores later on in the day. Good luck with the chore breaks, and happy writing/revising!

  3. I schedule some task for which I have a huge mental block right before or after the block of time I’ve scheduled for writing.
    That way I’m eager to start writing as soon as the other time block is done. Sometimes, I start writing before I realize that the other task is important too and needs to be completed.

  4. I needed a private distraction free area because, no will power 🙂 There were no spaces in our house like that, so I hinged together two old doors and placed them around me desk. Bingo! Wall! And? My wife and kids KNOCK even though the space is still open behind me! I made it about a month or so ago and it’s helped tons.

  5. GREat post and this is the revision I need most. The time revision. I should have no problem as I’m retired, but dog, chores, mow own “have to list,” they all get to me! TY.

  6. This is so great! Especially knowing I’m not the only crazy full time working, mom of a toddler who wakes up and writes in the middle of the night 😍 Whatever works to make you dreams come true right?!😍

    The cell phone thing is super hard for me as our computer crapped out so almost all my writing is done on my phone. I’ve written some by hand, but transferring to to my phone always kond of irritates me. I may actually have a few stories i forgot about because I had hand written them so i stopped lol. I mainly use paper just for rhythm patterns and physical dummies lol

    • Paper and pen is a great tool for writing that ugly first draft. It helps me stay focused (since there’s no twitter on my notepad!) and taps into a different part of the creative brain. Great idea – thanks for reminding me that it doesn’t all have to be done electronically!

  7. Okay, this post really hit home. I’ve got three young kids and a full time job that has the potential to be a big time suck. Some days I really want to write and can’t make it happen, and then I get frustrated. Other days I just completely forget about my writing. I’ll have to think about whether there are ways I can schedule in writing time every day.

    • Hi Teresa, I hope you find some pockets of time for your writing. But also remember to be kind to yourself! Even if you jot down a story idea on your phone or email yourself a few sentences to add into your manuscript later on, that’s a win!

  8. Thanks for the tips. This has been my single biggest challenge for years. I’ve had to learn another trick: When I sit down to do writerly things, my own work has to come first. Not critiques, not blog posts, not social media promoting those blog posts, but manuscript: outlining, writing, revisions. All that other stuff has to fit in between the cracks.

  9. Great post Michal showing the importance of “me time” for writing. I use a bullet journal and I write ‘write’ in it 5 out 0f 7 days. I also have a PB accountability group with accompanying spreadsheet. Some days I don’t write or critique or submit or revise or research but that’s okay because I know 5 out of 7 days I will :-).

  10. So right about the cell phone! The spread -They never waste their time- on “Adults never do that” by Davide Calli is hilarious and so much this.

  11. Hmmmm, I read this post with my phone right beside me. Ruh roh. I bet I’ve identified a big distraction. Thanks for all of these great tips.

  12. Pingback: #ReVISIONweek and another win! – Helen Ishmurzin

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