Relying on Unreliable Time

A bit ago, I wrote a post about how frustrated I was with the fact that I never seemed to get done anything that I wanted–or needed–to accomplish. I have a To-List that climbs to new heights on a daily basis and it doesn’t seem to be decreasing any time soon. To paint a picture, here are some of the things I want (and sort of need) to do:

Finish the first draft of Artemis Smith’s first story (or my fifth book). Edit Darryn’s trilogy (or at least the first book) before August 5th, so I can send it to a swap. Edit one short story and write another. Query. Start beta reading a manuscript. Read and review an ARC book. Read and review two previously published books sent to me by the same publishing house. Read books for fun. A lot of books. Write posts regularly on both this blog and my book review blog. Finally watch the first season of Outlander. Continue playing every video game that I’m obsessed with (currently, that is Elder Scrolls Online). Perhaps get back into watching TV or Netflix. Sleep in and stay up late.

And, of course, there are things I need to do, as well:

Schedule an eye doctor’s appointment. Take Shadow for walks daily. Schedule yearly check-up. Avoid yearly check-up at all costs. Get furniture and other necessities for apartment. Get renter’s insurance. Go through stuff to prepare to move. Job search. Sell kidneys to afford life. Job search. Everything I’m forgetting at this moment. Job search.

There is just so much to do. And I’ve figured out my main problem: I keep planning to accomplish things during unreliable time, i.e., I plan to do everything I want/need to do at work, while I use my free time to play video games, and then get disappointed when I don’t accomplish the things I wanted to accomplish that evening. Like I’ve mentioned before, I have a pretty flexible job when it comes to doing work and having my own time to complete things. Yet work, of course, obviously comes first. The other night, I scanned for a couple hours and didn’t get any writing done, because I had to work at work (I know, crazy, right?). Last night, a friend came to visit and I neglected this blog again. Life happens.

I’ve realized a couple other things, too. One: I’m still living with a college student’s mindset. Summer is meant to be the time where you do all the things you want, not the things you should be doing. So playing video games until 2am? Done. Choosing to play video games instead of anything else because that’s what you truly want to do? Done. You won’t have time to, later. And for me, it’s still sort of true. When I move into my apartment at the end of August, the PS4 stays with my brother at home (it is his, after all). And considering I have to buy all my furnishings and then have a bunch of new bills to pay come August, buying a PS4 of my own won’t be on top of my list (though I want it to be). So I want to maximize on the time I have escaping into the games that I love while I can.

Two: the things that used to be “hobbies” are now much more serious to me. A year ago, writing wasn’t something I did regularly. I constantly had the ideas and wanted to write, but I never gave it importance. Cue NaNoWriMo and suddenly I realized I could give it the importance it deserved. Six months later and I have written two books and started a third. Plus, I started networking, so now I beta read for more people, have critique partners, started book reviewing and blogging more seriously–even started freelance editing, just a smidge (but loving the hell out of it).

Now, I want to do it all–writing, reading, gaming, editing, blogging–on top of my regular commitments and give all of those things equal importance. Yet the time I “budget” for it is the time I can’t rely on, so I fall into this routine of never accomplishing anything, feeling shitty about it, yet not changing anything about the circumstances, instead just using my free time playing ESO and pretending everything else is getting done.

*heavysigh*

So, here is my game plan. I’m going to make a weekly schedule to start in September. That way, I’ll be moved into my apartment, (hopefully) have my job situation figured out and I’ll still give myself a summer to be lazy and get that out of my system. On the schedule, I’ll make goals I want to accomplish by listing how many hours a week I want to spend on something, e.g., working out five hours a week, editing for six, etc. Then, I’ll block out times and list the options that make sense. For example, I won’t list working out an hour before I have to go to work because that isn’t enough time to go to the gym, shower, go home and get ready. So I’ll list that activity in the morning or early afternoon. But I could list reading or editing right before work, because that’s feasible.

Giving myself options instead of listing concrete things at certain times makes so much more sense to me, now, but I’ve never tried that before. One morning, I might wake up and really want to go run a mile (that’ll be the day). But if my schedule says I should be editing during that time and I didn’t plan any other time to edit, then I’ll feel guilty if I go run instead of edit or feel guilty if I stay to edit and don’t run whilst in the mood. Instead, by listing plausible options during slotted times–but still having goal amounts of times I want to complete during the week, thus holding myself accountable–I can have more flexibility to listen to my mood and Muses and less chance to feel guilt.

Because life gets in the way. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. And I can’t plan for that. But I can plan to be able to respond to that in a healthy manner; much healthier than I have been feeling these past few weeks, constantly fretting and feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, under-accomplished and a failure.

So here’s my permission to continue dedicating my free time to Elder Scrolls, editing Darryn’s story before the deadline and then worrying about everything else without a deadline when my “summer” is over. Here’s my permission to not feel guilty about wanting to do everything. Here’s my permission to feel stressed trying to balance it all (notice I didn’t even get into trying to fit in things like hanging out with friends, catching up with family, one day hoping for a romantic partner to make me swoon or anything of that sort. Yeesh). Here’s the recognition that relying on unreliable time makes an already difficult task impossible. Here’s the promise that I will do better in the future, so I can continue doing everything that I love and be happy, with minimal stress and gross feelings.

Cheers.

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About Nicole Evans

Nicole Evans is a writer of fantasy and science fiction. She is currently unpublished and is working fervently to get the “un” removed from that statement. She has five completed manuscripts: a trilogy about destined heroes that fail anyway, a science fiction standalone that pits the natural desire to love against the natural instinct to kill during the extinction of the human race and a new series about a writer who can't get published and gets the chance to live a life that all writers dream. She also has two scripts done. Currently, she is about to start writing the second of a nine book series while planning two more. (If you can tell, she really likes this whole writing thing.) Considering she has run out of space for putting rejections letters up on her wall, Nicole now uses her spare time doing the typical things that nerds do: blogging, dying repeatedly during video games (which she believes is retribution for the characters’ she’s killed), wishing she was the character she is currently reading about and trying to fight off the real world by living in her own head, with varying degrees of success. Nicole has a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Film and Media Studies, and works part-time as a supervisor in a library at the University of Kansas. View all posts by Nicole Evans

7 responses to “Relying on Unreliable Time

  • Joyce C

    “Sell kidneys to afford this life.” HAHAHAHAHAHA

    Also, I totally understand your frustration. Because that guilt and feeling overwhelmed and like a failure is something I’m battling at the moment as well. Life does get in the way. Especially with a day job that eats up a whole chunk of the time you could have spent writing. By the time you get home from work, all you want to do is veg out and watch FRIENDS reruns over dinner. But it’s a choice we need to constantly make – chill out and take longer to reach our dreams, or power through the suck and work hard for what we want!

    I like that you’re prepared to face this challenge with a positive mindset and a game plan! By announcing it here on your blog, you’re already holding yourself accountable to your readers. I’m waiting for good news from you – hopefully you manage to accomplish your word count goals in September! I’m also giving myself a deadline that I will try to stick to. This WIP has taken longer than necessary to complete!!

    Power through!! And don’t beat yourself up for a bad day or two – just compensate by writing more the next day 🙂

    Joyce

    • inkstaind13

      “But it’s a choice we need to constantly make–chill out and take longer to reach our dreams, or power through the suck and work hard for what we want.”

      I love that.

      I think it is so important to realize what you just said, but also not to beat ourselves up for a bad day or two (or three or a week or even a month). As long as we don’t give up. As long as we keep working, regardless of any setback or personal demons or hiccups.

      When is your goal deadline? Perhaps we can try and keep one another accountable? 🙂 I believe in you!! (Also, I’m glad you enjoyed the kidney joke. :P)

      • Joyce C

        I’m aiming to finish the first draft of this WIP before I go on my Beijing trip in October. I’m in the middle of Act 2 now. That seems like a reasonable goal, I suppose?

        No matter what, I want to have something complete (that means, critiqued and edited to near-perfection) by the end of this year. It’s high time we shelved the excuses and get things done! 😉

      • inkstaind13

        I believe in you!! I know you can do it and I can’t wait to find your books on the shelves and be like, “Hey, I remember when she worked her ass off to get this done and now look at the beauty she has created. Imma buy it.” 😀 Have a blast in Beijing!

  • philcharlesr

    The problem with any creative pursuit is that the payoff is not palpable in the short term. That’s where I bring my gaming time in! I set an achievable word count for a day. If I am pressed for time, I’ll also set a time limit. If I have made a genuine effort to reach my word count for that amount of time, I allow myself to feel a sense of achievement. (A genuine effort means cutting off access to social media, and only opening my internet browser to check facts relevant to my writing). To get a palpable reward, I then turn on the xbox.

    It’s also important to have days off though! In terms of my professional life, I practice the piano either five or six days out of seven, and have one or two days where I don’t put fingers to keys. I’m lucky that I’m self employed, but I have done full time shop work for a few years as well. Back then, I committed to an hour at the piano after work.

    It’s a pain at the time, but it feels great afterwards. Cage the instant gratification monkey for a short time, and then let it out with a vengeance. Gaming is great, but it’s even better when it’s a reward for your hard work.

    • inkstaind13

      I like the using gaming as a reward type thing. I use it usually as a way to escape and simply relax, but I think I could potentially morph it into a reward/accomplishment thing! I’m glad you’ve figured out a system that works for you and hope it continues to go well! 🙂 (And your books is the one I mentioned in here. I *promise* I will start reading it soon.)

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