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Short or Long, One or Many?

How do you structure your writing time? By this, I mean do you work in several short spurts scattered through the rest of your daily schedule? Or do you have a longer block of time to devote to your craft? Do you write early in the morning or late at night? Do you write every day or only on certain days? I think that much of these are individual quirks but also a subject that I’ve had to revisit recently.

I’ve always had difficulty concentrating on more than one writing project at a time. Whether it’s the initial draft of a novel chapter, a revision pass on a short story, or a blog post like this, it is tough for me to shift gears. I am easily distracted.

One of my cats tries to help me write.

I think this ties back into the question about how to structure writing time. With full-time work hours, fencing practices and training, personal commitments, and cat wrangling, my writing time is haphazard at best. It is very rare to find more than two hours of uninterrupted time. Often, it is a fraction of that. So when I battle to carve out a block of time and to focus in the first place, trying to shift between plot points and characters is more disorienting than herding those cats. When I try to hop between several tasks all that I end up with are several unfinished projects.

But here I am writing a blog post when I’m in the midst of the first draft of a new short story, as well as the ongoing novel. How is that possible?

Magic? Nope. That would be awesome though.

It comes down to discipline. It’s one thing to think about writing, read books and articles about how to write, or to make to-do lists or goals. In the end, it’s that butt-in-chair effort that is important. Oh, and stop clicking on the nifty internet games, articles, and twitter feeds. I’m getting better about that. Small steps…

The short story draft has a deadline at least. I’ve always been a procrastinator, but when there’s a deadline, I’ll get it done. Although perhaps with only five minutes to spare.

Another cat helps me write.

In other arenas I multitask very well. Perhaps it’s just the written word that unleashes the more scatterbrained parts of my personality. I’m often reading multiple books at the same time. Is this another symptom of the same problem?

So, how do you manage your writing time? Do you set goals by word count or time?

Do you juggle several projects at once? Do you have any tricks or tips to help keep your focus? Do you have to stop to herd cats?

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