November 07, 2008


Writing requires concentration. Fortunately this is something I have been blessed with. I’ve always been able to sit in a room with the TV blaring, kids running to and fro, my wife asking me to take out the trash, and I have it all shut out. I could do this to the extent that my daughter would come up and put a little hand on each cheek, turn my head to look me full in the face and say, “Daddy?” In this way she would insure she had my full attention before continuing on.

The kids are no longer a diversion, of course, as they are grown and I don’t do this with grandkids as their visits are too rare and not to be wasted. So this means now I have nothing to divert me from writing, right?

Wrong. The election was a major diversion, occupying more of my thought process than I really had to give to it. I suppose some lingering concern still does. Studying about the impact of economic problems on publishing for a program at the conference in Glorieta and again at the Heart of America Conference in Kansas City coming up took a lot of time. (you can read the results at _the_Economy.htm ) I have some other programs to work up for the KC conference as well.

I said something to Saundra while ago about someone mentioning Christmas coming up. She said “Since you aren’t working you can do more of the shopping this year.” I blew a fuse. “Not working? Is that what you think?” Just because I don’t go to an office any more people tend to think I don’t work. I suppose everybody that works from home has this, but my own wife? I actually work more hours, not less, starting around 7am and usually going well into the evening with various diversions taking chunks out of it. And those diversions are what’s on my mind today.

There’s no shortage of them. Email and writing lists can be huge diversions but are necessary for the visibility that I need, plus that’s how I do business, how submissions come in to me. It’s how most editors contact me and how I send material to them. I have to keep a close eye on email. I spend a great deal of time just working the marketplace, looking for opportunities for my clients. There are errands to run, things around the house to do, checking on mom every day (she’s 95) and a Brittany Spaniel that insures that I get up periodically.

OK, so the agent gig is not really a diversion but my job. There still has to be a conscious choice between blocks of time for doing it and protecting time for writing and editing. The biggest chore allocating time there is finding the time to do a full manuscript read as I don’t like to do them in pieces. The author hopes I keep reading because if I stop they probably aren’t going to like the results.

There’s a lot more, I don’t work on Sunday of course, but you get the idea. I can hear the voices out there, all of you working moms saying “Poor baby, and you think that’s a lot?” I know, I know, it’s even harder for you. The bottom line is there is NEVER time for anyone to write just sitting there unused. There are always diversions. Saundra and mom are very good about helping me protect my writing time and I know not everyone has that support.

Time management is the key. We have all the time we’re going to have, we won’t be issued more. We have to allot time to do the things in our life and while doing that we have to carve out time for writing and protect it as if it were the Holy Grail. We have to be so insistent about the importance of the time that other people “get it” and help make it happen. I hope that is happening now in your writing life.

Now its time to go take the dog for a walk.


Tina Dee Books said...

LOL!!! Oh my goodness! You've read my mind. I've been sick lately, that adds to diversions, too.

I think I'll print this article out, make my family read it, sign/initial it and have them explain it back to me! Maybe then they'll get it...

I am trying to get back to keeping lists, it helps a little.

Thanks for the great post, Terry! It was written just for me, right?

Tina Dee

brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

Terry, I can certainly identify. I had to laugh when your wife said, "now that you're not working". HeHe! I think that this year my family gets it. This is work and if you work from home (most of us do)is easy to get sidetracked with things at home to be done. I have a hard time balancing that and continually pray for a maid! I think my biggest diversion is email, but my favorite diversion is my little granddaughter, Sarah.

Delia Latham said...

Great post, Terry! I disagree with Tina...I'm pretty sure you wrote this just for me! LOL I'm pretty one-track minded - once I actually get into writing. But I can come up with 101 different ways to put off getting there! Hmmm...maybe that's a good title for a book on "How NOT to Become a Writer." :)

Tammy Doherty said...

I get that working from home attitude from friends - "how come you never come visit me now that you're home all the time?" LOL

I'm more like you, Terry, in being able to shut out what's going on around me. I usually refuse to watch/listen to news because it sucks me in and takes up too many brain cells. But my 3 year old son manages to break through the concentration more often than I'd like.

I'm guilty of using housework as an excuse to not edit. Actually, it's a good thing books take so much editing/rewriting, or I'd never get any housework done!


Molly Noble Bull said...

Dear Terry,
I super concentrate, too. When I am writing, an airplane could crash in the middle of my office, and I wouldn't hear it.