Friday, December 16, 2016

Being More Effective, the preamble

It's a vast amount of hours gone. It happens very slowly, or it seems to. What happens is this: it's dark here very early in the evening now, and it stays dark all night. It's quiet, or relatively, where I live. Almost all my memories over the entire course of my life have happened at night. I have never liked the morning, I've liked the afternoon only slightly more. I am a pasty and pale dude. And when the night comes on, the world stills, the place quiets and my entire family goes to bed. Then, I am alone. This is all I want, all I want all day long is the peace and quiet and to be alone. These hours are vast, and they go by fast. I have all night.

In my youth, and I suspect everyone can say this, I became a different person at night. The rake came out, or at least the hedonist. Again, the world is quiet at night and so this sort of behavior is reserved for the few night dwellers. For many years of my life I would not write at night, I would not read at night. No, night was, for well over twenty years, reserved for gaining experiences. Many of my experiences I have fictionalized in most of my short stories and some of my novels. I think all writers do this. During these years of nightlife, I wrote, read, worked, studied, and otherwise did what I had to do during the day. I have been a morning writer for most of my life. I mean, during the morning I am resentful and peevish, so I should spend my time writing.

In recent years, since the birth of my son, the mornings are not for writing. Nor are the afternoons. The days are reserved for family errands, chores and earning money. And the nights? Well, I am not the rakish hedonist I once was. I can't be. Nowadays, I try to cram in as much writing as possible, as much reading as I can, and any other creative work during the nighttime hours. These are the hours when the family is asleep. It isn't easy. It isn't easy when there is the Internet at my fingers and all the distractions it can provide. I watched a very lackluster and ultimately disappointing documentary about some religious Russian mountain people night before last. I watched all boring 45 minutes.

I sometimes think I could do much more with that hour or two or five after the family has gone to bed and the time when I go to sleep. It's never been a habit to work at that hour. It has never been something I felt like I had the energy to do. I mean, I'm with a four year old for most of the day, I go to work in the evenings, and I run errands afterward. I'm tired.

Then, the thought occurred to me, I don't have to be as productive as I once was. I just have to be more effective. And being more effective has warranted more thought. I began to think what it means to be a writer. It's more than scribbling words on a page. I mean, I do that, and it's junk. Being a writer means connecting with publications, readers, editors, everyone. It takes time. Being a writer means having the discipline to submit work, market what has been published. To be a writer means, well, to work. When I get small spare time I just want to write, which is productive, but not effective. So, I've been doing some thinking, some soul (and perhaps sole) searching.

This is what I came up with for being an effective writer during the late nights when the energy is low:

  1. Make a writers plan
  2. Split the time up between activities: new material, submission of work, networking, etc.
  3. Understand that Youtube videos are short, until you watch 50 of them
  4. Break everything up in small easily attainable tasks

Next time, “The Writer's Plan.”

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