Thursday, May 16, 2013

Help! I Forgot How to Juggle

It's hard to juggle these.

I failed to post here last week for a happy reason: seasonal, full-time employment. I like my job, but the first few days left me feeling wet noodle-weak and dumber than pasta. So, how do y'all do it?

Yes, I'm talking to you. 

How do you work a full day, come home, cook, clean, help kids with homework, write a few pages of the WIP (work in progress), tweet, update Facebook, and blog? 

Last week, no joke, I did not have one original thought. Not one.

Those of you who juggle jobs and family responsibilities while churning out fiction and non-fiction are my heroes. If no one praised you today for any of your original thoughts, here goes: you are amazing.

This week, I embraced the notion of getting up an hour earlier than usual and using the extra time to write. Today, I chose roasted almonds for an afternoon snack because I need quality fuel to keep me going. Tips and tricks I once knew well are coming back to me along with fervent appreciation for you who make "doing it all" look easy.

It's not. Have I told you you're amazing?

My kids are grown, so I'm not slapping sandwiches together at dark-thirty in the morning and nagging them to eat something more nutritious than a slice of cheese for breakfast. (Although, come to think of it, why did I get bent out of shape over a slice of cheese?) Better still, I no longer drive carpool. Note to those of you who do: someday, you'll drop off your last passenger and regain a fast-food wrapper-free vehicle. You'll choose the music and the car will smell of air freshener rather than day-old French fries. 

Attention, carpool drivers: you're amazing.

For the next couple of months, Sunday afternoons will serve as my planning periods. I'm going to organize my week and make time for the WIP, this blog, and, oh yeah, laundry and meals. 

Meals I can simplify. The WIP, however, is getting complicated, and if I don't corral an original thought, the characters will lose respect for me.

(Notice I'm not scheduling time to clean the house. When the dust bunnies threaten the cats, I'll vacuum. When dust migrates toward the laptop's keyboard, I'll reach for the microfiber cloth.)

Original thought eludes me for now, but my plan's coming together. I could, however, use your input. How do you do what you do week after week? What time-savers give you an extra hour or more a day to devote to the work of your heart?

One more thing before I go: you're amazing.


Anonymous said...

Hi Pat,

I remember once buying a train ticket and above the clerk's desk there was a sign that said: "Just Do It".

You need to be good to yourself and time is a precious commodity.

I think QE1 (is she a hero of yours?) said that she would give her Kingdom for a moment of time.

So be "selfish" - put everyboy on hold and do what you need or want to do.

- Patrick

Kay Hudson said...

The older I get, the harder it is--what I really need is an extra day in the week. This month I've added yard work to the list of weekend projects, and I'm afraid it's my writing that suffers. And reading. My vow for next year (it's too late for this year) is "no more volunteering--just say no!" But I've said that before. I'm afraid I have no secrets to offer, beyond chronic sleep deprivation.

Lynette M. Burrows said...

Secrets? Hmm, like you the dust bunnies have to be threatening a loved one before I even see them anymore. I did manage to get my boss to allow me to work 4 - 10 hour shifts so I have another day in my week. But after ten hours, I'm peanut butter! Besides that, I'm selfish. I make the writing a weekend priority. Even prioritized it is slow going.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Pat,
"Just Do It" is excellent advice. Of course, when I get a free hour for myself, I have to type furiously instead of drinking coffee and staring into space.

You're not suggesting I execute anyone who gets in my way, are you?

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Kay is the superb president of the West Houston chapter of Romance Writers of America and a lifelong volunteer. She is also a Golden Heart finalist who's publication-ready. Kay, the best advice I have for you comes from Patrick. Read his comment (above). "So be 'selfish' - put everybody on hold and so what you need or want to do." I am glad you're WHRWA's president, but at the end of your term, you must tell yourself (and believe it) that you've done your bit and deserve to focus on your writing.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Lynette,
You're the second person to mention the S-word. I'll give it a try.

Four ten-hour workdays are tough because we all know they don't end on schedule.

At the end of those shifts you're like peanut butter? I'm stealing that phrase and know which character will use it. Hey! While I'm still not capable of original thought, I am thinking. Good sign! Thanks, Lynette.

Lark Howard said...

Hi, Pat! I don't know how writers with contracts/deadlines, day jobs and children manage. I have a high pressure day job and rarely get home before 7:00 pm but I also have help--a husband who cooks part of the time, a housekeeper one day a week and no yard work. Still, a lot of my writing has to be done on weekends when I'm in my writer persona and actually have creative thoughts.

Jennette Marie Powell said...

I don't cook or clean. My husband and daughter do the former, and we have a friend who comes in to clean house once every two weeks (my DH helps him with other things). It helps that my husband's semi-retired and daughter's 17. This week, no writing: my time is consumed with end of year school programs and daughter's upcoming graduation, plus three birthdays in the family. Sometimes you just gotta give in temporarily.

Sheila Seabrook said...

Pat, by the time you're done your seasonal employment, you'll be all organized. LOL! It always takes me 3 months to get into the groove before life smooths out and I get my writing brains back.

I worked outside of the home for most of my adult life. From the start, I got up extra early so I could fit in an hour of writing before I headed off to work. But sometimes the job -- or the family! -- sucked the brains out of my head and there was nothing left for writing.

This will be a great break for you and even if you don't find the energy to write right away, by the time your seasonal job if wrapped up, you'll be raring to get back to the keyboard.

Enjoy your job!

Anonymous said...

Hi Pat,

No, please don't execute anybody.

I guess monarchs did get their way years ago and could remove anybody who got in their way.

Somehow I figured that as a writer, you probably admired Elizabethean England at some time in your life. But what do I know?

Good weekend - Patrick

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Lark,
Your creative thoughts are wa-a-ay better than average, so weekend writing works for you.

Oh, and my compliments to the cook. It's good to know Steve has your back.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Jennette, enjoy every minute of this week. Your daughter's graduation is a big honking deal. Congrats to her and her proud parents.

I'm sitting here, high-fiving your helpers. Nice!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Sheila,
Thanks for the pep talk. I needed it.

I'm still laughing at "But sometimes the job -- or the family! -- sucked the brains out of my head...."

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Patrick,
I do, indeed, admire Elizabethan England. Your comment happened to hit me at a moment when I'd have liked to send someone to the dungeon.

Hope your weekend was a good one.

Coleen Patrick said...

I'm with Jennette--sometimes you gotta give in temporarily! :) I know whenever I've got something new on my plate, it takes a little time to figure out and get used to the schedule.