Wasting Time to Make Time

Moonday Madness

A blog about the craft of writing

This is the third in a series of blogs about organization and what keeps me on track. The first post, Goal Setting Survival is HERE and you can learn about Flying Past the Lure of the Toilet HERE.

It’s crazy.


But one of the things that keeps me writing, and keeps me organized is not writing.I know, I know, you are wondering how I could possibly get more writing done by not writing?

This is going to be a tough one for most readers and authors to swallow, because ulike goal setting or organizing a clean house, this one seems to be a time sucker. Not a time free-er. But I have found that the more I take care of myself, the better I feel, and the better I feel, the more I can get done and that frees up my time. Doing something that feels like wasting time actually is benenficial.

Here is a list of time wasters that I need to do when writing that, instead of cutting my writing down, infuse it with energy.

1. Take breaks

Taking a break every forty-five minutes to an hour refreshes my muse. I run up and down the stairs doing laundry. I set the time for fifteen minutes and get a snack, a cup of coffee, sneak a bite of chocolate. I dance, do yoga or pull weeds. Anything that is different from the act of looking at the computer and gets me out of the chair. The most important piece of this is to not check emails or tweet or look at the next fascinating blog. The idea is to get away from the computer and refresh.

2. Take time for a nutritious lunch

I cook my lunch. Yes, I do. On those days when I’m lucky enough to be home, writing full time, I have a real honest-to-goodness meal. My favorite meal is whole grain (real whole grain, not that fake stuff the bread companies tell you has whole grain) bread, topped with humus and sauteed onions, garlic and spinach. Brain food.

Yes, it takes time to make it. I do have some time saving secrets: I saute my onions and garlic ahead of time and just add those to the pan with the spinach. That cuts the cooking time down to about five minutes. And I actually take the time to sit down with a cloth napkin and eat it. Okay, it’s frequently in front of the TV or with a book, but it’s away from the computer. And, despite the TV or book I find it something relaxing and rejuvenating.

3. Exercise

This is the one that I think most people think will drain them. Make them tired and hence unable to work efficiently. But I have found that waking up and getting out of the house, taking a bracing walk (not so bracing with summer here) with the dog, has me coming back to the computer rarin’ to go!

I walk every morning, unless the world conspires against me. And I go to the gym twice a week to do the elliptical and lift weights. You’d think I’d be in fantastic shape! I’m sure my heart thanks me and maybe, in a few years, my body will too. Meanwhile the walking is great for my working. The weightlifting and elliptical, well, I do those at night. I come back ravenous and exhausted, so I sleep well and wake up ready for the next day.

This may sound like  preachy post. A list of all the things  you “should” be doing. I want you to know I didn’t just jump up one day and start acting like a fitness guru, eating right and doing yoga in between my writing stints. This has been a hard-won battle forced upon me by exhaustion and my body saying “I give up!”.

You need to find what works for you. But for me, these are the things that I have to make time for to make my writing really work for me. When I slack off, don’t exercise, don’t eat right and try to push things through…those are the times I have writing frustration. I sit in front of the keyboard zoning out, distracted and un focused.

What works for you? Do you take breaks? Schedule time off with your friends? What things do you do that take time away from writing, but send you back to the computer refreshed and rarin’ to go?


Filed under Moonday mania, writing organization

18 responses to “Wasting Time to Make Time

  1. Jessica,

    I hear ya on the exercise. I am a slug and have to drag myself down the basement stairs and on to the elliptical. I thought having one at home would eliminate the excuse of travel. I thought setting up so I can watch a favourite show on PVR (45 mins on elliptical = one episode of CSI sans commercials), but, no. It is still a challenge. When I do it, I feel better.

    I could go on, but that would be a whole other series of blog posts (hmmm…) but I agree, even if I don’t always put it in practise, that taking breaks, any kind of breaks, is more productive and healthy than sitting at the computer and working without a break.

    Write-a-thons with you and Gloria help me to do that. I’m no good on my own!

    • I love the write-a-thons! And its because of you that I found that 45 minutes writing then 15 minute breaks are my optimum. Okay, sometimes I go longer, but when I hit 60 minutes my creative brain turns to jello. And as for getting on the elliptical, the only reason I am getting to that gym twice a week is my workout buddy. It’s just like the writing. Having a commitment to my husband that we are going makes both of us overcome those days where we just don’t want to go. That goes for the walks too! If I didn’t have a Labrador begging to go out the door when that snow was coming down, I know I wouldn’t be out there in those big heavy boots!

  2. I practiced all the things you mention, Jessie.

    And, they work.

    SO, why the past tense? Because deadlines loom and I felt I didn’t have time to maintain my routine. What happened during those “saved” hours and 15 minute snippets of time? Beats the heck-out-of-me.

    Timely post, amiga mia. I implemented a new routine this week, incorporating all but one of the items you suggest. I eat lunch at my SBUX table and clear emails. But, it’s healthy! My most productive days are ones when I get up and “at ’em” early. Use the timer for 45 minute write-a-thons and 15 minute knock-something-off-my-list-a-thons.

    Maintaining notes on my progress. I’ll keep you posted!

    • You betcha Gloria! As long as it works for you and inspires you, that’s what counts! And you can see by my response to Sherry, I love those 45/15 sessions! Many’s the day that has kept me on track!

  3. Hi Jessica! My conputer sent your post announcement to my Junk email! Yikes! That is like turning off half of my own brain, your posts are so close to my thoughts.
    This morning I’ve already walked at the two miles at the track and then walked home as my husband had the car. Then I showered and got ready to face the day (make that made myself presentable for others to see me as i do my day) and hit the computer. I did Twitter while walking. I know, multi-tasking, but it helps to fill in the walking time when I’m by myself. So here i sit and have already dragged out and revamped an emotional short that I’ll take to my critique group on Wednesday night. And it’s only 10:30 a.m.! Oh, and for one of my breaks I loaded the dishwasher. Just about now to go looking for a couple of pictures to go with a mag submission I’m working on. Should give me my 15 minutes away from the screen to find what I want–me in my orange ski suit in the seventies. Bet you wish you could see it!

    • Hip! Hip! Hurray! for the walkers!!
      I love how much in common we have! I too frequently use my fifteen minute breaks to sneak in my cleaning. It goes perfectly with my Fly Lady routine and it gets me moving and crosses those pesky chores off my list. The key is ignoring till later what will be done later, for instance, loading the dishwasher!
      I am hoping you will let us know when that picture of you in the ski suit (and the magazine article) come out!

  4. Oops. Should have done a reread to catch the typing glitches. Sorry!

  5. Breaks work. Great points!

  6. Hats off to you, Jessica! I have now added exercise to my goal list because I am not doing it and my back is suffering. I’m terrible about dragging myself away from the computer. I know that exercise is one of the most beneficial things for our memory. I took 2 exercise videos from the library to change up my usual body ball routine, and I did each once in 2 weeks. Arggg. I know it’s good. I feel the benefits. I beleive it boosts creativity. I must get on it!

    • Oooh! body ball videos? Are those the enormous balls I see people using at the gym. We have one, but I just sit on it at the coffee table when I do paper edits. Its at least a different place to sit! I hear those workouts are tough. Good for you Sharon!

  7. I definitely need to schedule my breaks, where I am not on the computer. I’m not sure I could do every hour, but at least every two hours. My husband and I walk the dogs 15 miles a week, Sat and Sun are our biggest days, but I need to do it more during the week.

    Now that I’m on Twitter, I must definitely turn off Tweetdeck while writing.

    Looking forward to campaigning with you.

    • Twitter is such a lure! I have to really watch how much time I spend on twitter and checking emails. I agree with you, turn it off and just write. That’s why I schedule e-time, mostly. I am guilty for sure of succumbing when the writing isn’t flowing well!

  8. I totally understand your concept, although I’m no big fan of healthy food 😉
    Honestly, I need artificial stuff or at least lots of sugar or something quite salty etc. to get me going.

    Aside from that, I noticed that I feel generally happier and fitter if I spend my time “useful”. For that purpose I created several little cards with basic activities and I try to do as much of them as possible each day. They include: spend time outside, do some sports, read in a book (fiction), read something else (all from nonfiction to comics), learn, clean up, write, play (a game) … I think that’s all. Those activities are meant to make me deal with all the stuff I want and should do. For example, I have loads of unfinished video-games I’d like to enjoy, just as I like to read and I have to keep my house reasonably clean etc..
    If something special occurrs I adjust my cards, for example I put “creating a costume” on the same card as writing for a time, so that it would be ok if I spend some time on any of those activities.

    I have to admit, however, that I haven’t managed to do much of those activities lately – and it starts to “show”. I’ll try to get back on my feet now.

    • What a great idea to have cards. Do you shuffle them then do whatever comes up? I used to think I needed sugar, but the less I eat, the less I need. Everyone is different and that’s what makes blogging and comments interesting. Hope you get back to some of your “fun” activities!

  9. Pingback: Hootsuite, A Defense Against the Onslaught of Social Media | JessicaAspenWrites

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