We’ve all known a friend or co-worker who had half a dozen excuses as to why suggested solutions to their problems wouldn’t work. They laid their problem at your feet. You’d listen patiently and then give suggestions. They’d say “Yeah But…” to each and everyone. I call these folks “Yabut Frogs.” Some people just like to roll in their own garbage. They don’t want their problems to be solved. Not sure if their motivation for this behavior is sympathy or attention (shrugs). Don’t care. I’m too busy choking my own internal Yabut Frog.
As I write this post, I’m sitting in another hotel room in the third city I’ve visited within a month’s time. Dusk is falling and frankly, it’s too damn cold to go walking around. Here I sit pondering one of the questions I get asked most frequently at writers conferences.
“How do you kick out so much work?”
It’s a fair question. Based on my earlier statement, you can see I travel for my day job as a project manager. Sometimes I’m on the road far more than others. It depends on the project(s) I manage. Right now I’m juggling three national projects and working on the first book in an epic fantasy series. How do I do it? Well, it comes down to three things (in reverse order):
#3 Be Where You’re At (aka Time Management): One of the best investments I’ve made was taking a course in Time Management. It taught me how to focus on what I was doing in the here and now. In other words, I am present in the moment. I define a goal for the day job or my writing and I focus only on that task during the time I’ve allotted.
Example: I allotted two weeks to complete the edits on the first eight chapters of my epic fantasy. I allotted a few hours each night for the task and committed to have the edits completed before leaving on the trip I’m on now. Goal accomplished.
#2 Lifestyle: I never know when I’ll get the call to hop on an airplane. I also never know what to expect when I get there. It could be a regular work day. I go in at a decent hour and am off by 4:30 local time. Then there are the harry trips. I arrive at the office by 7:00 am and don’t get back to the hotel until 9 or 10 pm. The goals I set for my writing time during these trips are planned in advance.
Don’t let your Yabut Frog start croaking excuses as to why you can’t write! Choke it!
Set reasonable goals: What do I mean by reasonable? Start with something compact like the opening scene of a prologue or finishing edits for the first part of a chapter. If you finish your first goal, then treat yourself. Then move onto the bonus round. Have another goal of something you’d like to accomplish if you have time. Starting an outline for the second book in your series or finishing that rough draft of a short story you’ve been fiddling with.
Personal note: I make sure I finish my first goal, even if I complete it at the gate in the airport on my return trip. However, as much as I love to write, I do take time for fun. A friend of mine is taking me to a local haunt. Will I skip a night of work to visit a pub housed in a building built during the time of the American Revolution? Oh yeah, you bet I will.
#1 Desire: You have to want it bad enough. Yeah. I know it’s a cliché, but that doesn’t make it wrong. If you want your dream bad enough, you’ll find the time and the discipline to make it happen. And you will choke your internal Yabut Frog.
I’m going to wrap up with another cliché: “It’s the journey.”
Writing goals are important. Adhering to the time frames to accomplish those goals are equally important. However, it doesn’t matter how many pages you write if you don’t remember to enjoy the journey. Readers are smart. They can tell how much love you’ve put into your work. If you don’t love it, they won’t love it either.