Saturday, September 10, 2011

Writing-Related Tasks vs. Writing

Daring NovelistI hope y’all will bear with me as I explore yet another productivity-related post this week (yes, I really am obsessed.) It’s on my mind a lot right now. :)

A couple of times this week I was reminded about the importance of writing-related tasks. Not writing…but either preparing to write (research, sketching out a mini-outline, scheduling time on the calendar to write), doing promo, learning how to do something that results in finding readers (a social media application, self-publishing information, etc.)

Once was during a conversation with another mom about the number of hours our sons were spending practicing their instruments for marching band. This week is a record 15 hours (of actual playing.)

The other mom asked me if I spend that much time writing in a week (she was thinking, in general, of the arts and practicing skills).

I told her that ordinarily I don’t write 15 hours in a week (although I’ve been under deadline crunches where I’ve written 6 hours a day. But fortunately, those don’t happen often.)

That wasn’t really completely true, though. I’m not usually putting text on a page for 15 hours a week usually, but I’m spending far more time than that on writing-related tasks—sketching out ideas, making lists of where I’d like to take a story, promoting books that are out, writing blog posts and guest posts, scheduling tweets while building my author platform, learning the ropes of e-publishing, etc.

Those are all important things. Although they’re not writing.

I’m definitely streamlining my writing-related tasks, as I mentioned in my post on Wednesday. I’ve got to keep my online time under control so that I can write as much as possible.

But, even streamlined, these writing-related tasks are still important and necessary.

Writer Camille LaGuire had an interesting post on necessary vs. productive on her blog, The Daring Novelist, this week. She defined necessary as:

…tasks which are necessary but not productive: Creating to do lists, dealing with email, research, studying, learning, practice, eating, sleeping, reading, sharpening pencils, shopping, filling out paperwork.... these are all necessary things. Some of them very necessary, and even immediately relevant to the task at hand. But they are not the task itself.

Camille goes on to say:

What's necessary is necessary. Leave enough room for it. And leave slack in both the necessary and the productive parts of your schedule so that you have elbow room to work.

Although I know that no writing-related tasks are necessary if there’s not , at some point, some writing done, it still made me feel better to think that there is value in what I’m doing in the promo, the research into platforms and social media, etc. It supplements the writing. And, although I’m streamlining it all as much as I possibly can, it’s okay for me to realize its value and make time for it…and schedule some buffer time between it and other tasks.

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I don’t think we can shut off social media or industry research, etc., cold turkey…not for very long, anyway. Because they’re necessary to our writing, too.

What necessary tasks are a part of your writing day? Are you giving yourself enough time to do them? Do you feel guilty when you do them…even though they’re necessary?