Once again I'm indepted to LW for today's blog subject, task management, because I empathize with her plight. When you've got kids and another job, how do you get it all done? In the writing biz, I think it's especially difficult before you're published. Unlike say, sewing or knitting or decorating, when you've finished an unsold manuscript, you've basically just got a pile of paper. How do you explain the use of that time to people who only see the pile of paper, who don't see creative effort and optimism? It ain't easy.
I also think there's more pressure than ever before on authors to promote their work. So now it's not enough to write your book and get it published (no small potatoes!). No, you've got to be thinking of a web presence and public appearances and -- oh, how I hate this one -- "branding." (I have yet to comprehend the difference between "branding" and "stereotyping.")
So what's an author to do? I got one really good piece of advice from a business book, by Kate White, called WHY GOOD GIRLS DON'T GET AHEAD... BUT GUTSY GIRLS DO. She wrote this years before she became a mystery writer as well as the editor of Cosmo.
It's a little technique called "slice the salami." Instead of thinking of a job, like creating a website, as this huge mountain to climb, break it down to smaller tasks. I'd also add, spread over time.
For example, instead of thinking about the website as one major task, break it down into a series of small tasks, spread over time, with manageable deadlines. For instance, "This week, I'll register a domain name." That's it for this week. "Next week, I'll ask my friends or other writers I know if anybody can recommend a good web designer." All you have to do that week is compile a list of names. Next week, you contact one or two and ask for prices. That's it for that week. And so on.
In that way, you're working on the problem, and getting things done, just more slowly.
In my case, I realized over the weekend that my characters are apparently inhabiting the equivalent of a ghost town. As they move through what should be areas with a lot of people, I never mention anybody else. Ooopsy. So my task in one chapter, in addition to the general tightening to keep the focus on the main couple, is also to add people where there should be people. Simple, easy to remember, relatively easy to do. I'm not thinking about the overall plot - just what I need to do at that one place.
That's my slice of salami for that chapter.