Tag Archives: time management

Time Management Looks Like Success (The Marketing Author 001, Part 3)

Missed an article from this series? Look for it here.

“Time Management Looks Like Success”

Last week we talked about budgeting our money. This week we’re going to talk about budgeting our time.

Before we go anywhere with this, I think it’s important to acknowledge the value that we put on each. If you’ve started building a marketing budget, and if you’ve made any progress toward securing payment on your next big marketing need, then you probably feel accomplished and progressive. Good for you; you recognize the value of money. But have you actually created the work that you’re going to pour all of that marketing dollar juice into? If not, then perhaps you need a refresher on the value of time.

Let’s start with a brief narrative about my state of mind the day I wrote this article’s first draft:

Even though I’m posting this article on Wednesday, March 15, 2017, I’m writing it on Monday the 6th, while I am currently on vacation.

And, guess what? I’m also sick. Yay!

Okay, so what does this mean for The Marketing Author 001? It means I had plans to be up early today, at an hour when I’d normally be at work, and get loads of writing, research, and whatever important things I can think of done, “whatever” including anything I normally can’t do when I’m at work. But because I’m sick and don’t want to face the world today, I slept in. I slept in hard. I’m writing this in the evening, when I’d be home from work anyway, because I got a late start today. My opportunities for accomplishing more were inhibited by my reality for having time for less. When I’m sick, I don’t want to think, or speak, or do anything other than sleep. If I don’t have to work, my excuses for sleeping in grow. That’s what happened this morning.

(And now for a quick writing break because my pizza is here and I must eat it.)

Okay, see? Distractions abound, and distractions like dinner will happen. Sickness, too. Having these things happen on vacation when I’m supposed to have all the time in the world to get anything and everything done will also happen. At some point, I just have to expect the distractions and figure out how to get around them. We all do.

This is not a surprise. Distraction is an enemy of time, and one that we all fall into at some point.

But so is disinterest. That, too, is something we all fall into at some point. Surprise!

Okay, so let’s pause, breathe, and explore this idea for a moment. We write because we want to. That’s what we tell ourselves all the time. Right? No one is forcing us to produce our business books or novels because we’re beginners who have no writing contracts. Right? We write because we want to.

But, do we really want to?

Really?

Often, unprofessional writers will make the excuse that they don’t have time to write because they work too much or have families to give attention to or have too much content on their DVRs going to waste, and if they start writing, they have to neglect those other things, and why would they want to do that? And sure, that may be true if they think they have to devote eight hours a day to writing, or fit in those requisite 2000 words before bed that every professional writer claims to write every day.

But those are just excuses. What does excuse even mean? To get out of something? What are we getting out of? Something we want to do???

Tell you what; to save time, let’s just skip to the list of ways we can manage our writing time better, since that’s what we really want out of this message. It’s always about the lists, right? Here we go:

  1. Make sure you want to write.

The end.

Yep, that’s the whole list.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Aren’t writers always having to force themselves to write? The answer is no. No, sometimes writers actually want to write. Just depends on what they’re writing. To paraphrase a quote from my favorite author, Max Barry, if you’re lacking the motivation to write a particular scene, chances are that scene isn’t very good and probably doesn’t need writing anyway. So, work on a different scene. If the whole book is going downhill, then write another book. I think this also applies to nonfiction. If you’re struggling to work through a particular piece of information, ask yourself if you really need to include it in the book. If the whole thing is flawed, ask yourself if you’re working on a topic that anyone can actually benefit from reading about.

But, what if we have an interesting or helpful topic and still have to force ourselves to write? Well, the straightforward answer is that we just force ourselves to write, just like we force ourselves to go to work. End of story. If we want to write, we will. If we don’t, we won’t.

Or, if we’re professionals who actually want to develop a business through writing, we’ll write anyway, even if we don’t want to. We’ll sneak writing into the crannies of our days. Or we’ll carve out large chunks of hours at those times we know we’re at our creative best. Or we’ll hire an assistant to type while we dictate over the phone, assuming we’ve established a budget for that sort of thing.

It’s important to realize that we give most of our time to the people or things we care most about. If we find ourselves making excuses why we can’t make the time to do something, it’s time to figure out where our hearts have gone because our hearts clearly aren’t in the business we say we’ve sunk it into.

Truth is, it’s easy to make excuses why we can’t write today. And those excuses can cut a deep gash into our allotted 24-hour days. But if we really want to become successful at this craft—the learning, the doing, and the sharing—then we gotta stop making those dumb excuses and get back to work. We don’t have to spend eight hours a day writing. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish in just eight minutes (I mean, if you can improve your abs in that much time, imagine what you can do to your brain!), so stop coming up with reasons why you can’t write. If you want to be a professional, then start acting like one, and if you are a professional, start setting a good example for those who are trying to learn from you. I still have to decide if that’s a blanket statement to all professionals, or if I’m just talking to myself here.

Next week we’ll focus on rejection.

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Chronicles of a Second Wind

Originally posted to MySpace on:

April 10, 2007:

How does a man driven by creativity get his brain to stop nagging him? A pressing question to a philosopher, maybe, but not to me. “Finish what you started” seems like a worthier battle cry for such an occasion—stop leaving the past unresolved—don’t go to sleep on an empty stomach (okay, the last one might be overkill). The message, it seems at its most rudimentary state, is to complete a project that the creator thinks is worth his attention in the first place. If it’s not valuable, it won’t nag him. Simple philosophy…in theory.

I caught the game creation bug back in the ‘80s, found a creation engine, and thus the means to see my computer game ideas come to life in the first half of 2000, and went to work on a project (of organized chaos) called The Adventures of Powerstick Man. It starred the hero of a mock comic I had made in the early ‘90s about a tennis player turned spandex wearing crime-fighter who threw deodorant as his superpower. His story began with his birth as a superhero and ended after a short spelunking quest that earned him the coveted “Cove Ruby,” an item that didn’t really help him any because the game was over. There was so much more planned for the game, with several new towns, a deeper story line involving the kidnapping of mayors, and a slew of pop culture parodies that would make the writers of Scary Movie groan. It was my gaming opus, and my ticket into an underground world of RPG making geeks, where popularity depended on the quantity of message board posts and the clever use of “elite speak,” where “e’s” became “3’s” and “t’s” became…something. And, like so many who fell victim to the black hole of message boards, I had lost my steam after the first release. It was a fate I thought I could avoid. I was wrong.

I never learned “elite speak,” by the way, or cared to. My geekiness was intended to live in theory, not in reality. Anyway…

I tried to assimilate my identity into this indie-gaming world through various forms of writing, mainly through reviews of other people’s games. I spent nearly a year of my life critiquing these amateur projects, trying to wow readers with big ways to say little things. And I gained attention. Through my reviews, I became a valuable resource to the independent gaming community. I wrote articles on character development, fought for the appropriate use of dialogue, both in action and in presentation, and even submitted the occasional fanfic in the form of documentary radio scripts. It was a golden age for me in this secret world; I was like Roger Ebert, but younger and skinnier. And I couldn’t get back to my project.

The fire of participation died by 2002, and with it, several false starts on other games. The Adventures of Powerstick Man lingered in limbo, waiting for the day that its story would be completed. But that day never came. I tried to revive it a year later with a new presentation, calling it “Version 2,” but again the fire died as soon as it had flickered. My passion for game-making hit a dead end, as did my creativity in all forms. I searched for other methods to keep myself plugged in with the fans (the few that called themselves fans), but my taste for the subculture faltered. Nothing ever got done with this group. Nothing ever got done on my hard drive. With personal crises taking over, I had nothing left to give to my creations. I burned out.

Several projects ate space on my hard drive by 2003, most of them with nothing more than a title screen and a couple of graphics. I still dabbled with my perpetually labored project called Tightfloss Maiden, which to this day remains close to release, as it was in 2001, but not close enough to actually unveil it. In the end, unfortunately, my desire to work on anything creative subsided in favor of personal misery. The golden age became a rusted age, and I couldn’t take it.

By the end of 2003, however, something remarkable happened: I went back to school. I was refreshed. And with the refreshed journey, I went back to my writing. I started revamping my old collections of short stories, releasing two self-published books by early 2005. In the last quarter of 2005, I wrote the first draft of my novel. Throughout all of 2006, I wrote and released my third collection of short stories to the public. And now, as I write this, I’m back to the editing stage of my novel, with a second novel in the drafting stage. Add these to the screenplay floating around various agencies for the Scriptapalooza contest, and it seems I pulled out of a major dive. But alas, something still lingers.

During a brief creative spell in 2005, I decided to return to the original version of Powerstick Man and add some features for an Extended Edition. My intention was to re-release the game as it used to be, but with more options for the player. It was a means to draw its fans back to the character and back to the charm that made it a cult classic (and also to spur interest in the graphically enhanced Version 2 that I had hoped to also release someday). But again, after a slight addition to the character roster, I went on to something else—my novel. And there it sat untouched for another year.

And throughout that year, the unfinished project nagged at me. Six years had passed without a fair attempt to finish it, or even to progress it, and it haunted me. I couldn’t stand it. But I kept putting it off, favoring the work on my prose over it. It was the annoying guest that refused to leave. It spilled over into my other unfinished gaming projects. One project became nine, all of them waiting for their turn to see the light of day. It was madness.

Finally, I reached the point that I couldn’t take it anymore. After spending a weekend dabbling with another creation engine that specializes in point-and-click adventures, I thought, “I could do this again.”

I’m writing this journal, in March of 2007, because the second wind is blowing, and I’m curious to see what becomes of it. Certainly, it could be a short breeze, destined to die in two weeks’ time. Or it could be a strong gale, lasting until the project sees an end. Either could happen, and I’m curious to see which becomes reality. My novel still demands my attention, as does my economic freedom—both of which are threatened by the idea of revisiting these old projects. But that marks the creator’s heart. A creator without passion isn’t a creator but a do-boy. He has to give his attention to these things anyway.

Having said this, I’ve put The Adventures of Powerstick Man on a new train, and I’ll record its journey in some form as it unfolds.