Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How the hell I do it... [with coffee, okay]

When folks find out what sort of deadline madness my life consists of, the first thing they ask is HOW THE HELL DO YOU DO IT?

No. Really.

Firstly, I have a day job. I'm a sub-editor for one of the largest newspaper publishers in South Africa. I'm just a little cog in the daily deadline wheel. While my day job might not be the most exciting after almost ten years, it's still one that I enjoy. Our deadlines are quick. Often we work under incredible pressure, not only subbing text (editing it) but laying it out too. So it's a little bit of wordsmith, and a little bit of playing designer.

But then I love writing too. Hell, since I've been a little girl, I've wanted to be a writer. This is, however, where working at the papers offers another benefit: I'm friends with editors who publish my writing. These could be op eds, book reviews or travel stories (the latter's cool 'cos I sometimes get to travel, for free).

We're not always helluva busy at work, so I can sneak the writing in between the deadlines.

As if that's not enough, I also write fiction. Unlike normal people, I don't go out during lunch (well, most lunches, that is). I stay in and write. It's the only time of the day when I don't get disturbed and you'd be amazed at how much you can get done in an hour without any interruptions.

Then there's the editing. I take on selected freelance clients across a range of genres (everything from BDSM through to horror), and I normally try get this done over weekends. But more often than not, my authors usually come to me in a state with some *interesting* deadlines, and then I see what I can do to accommodate them. I've been known to swing a 100k-word novel over a weekend. I'm kinda crazy like that but I love the pressure.

On top of all that, there's the Tales of Darkness and Dismay line that I direct for Dark Continents. This is also very much a selective process bringing out novels, anthologies and chapbooks.

Where do I find the time?

It's fairly simple: I am the boss when it comes to making "to do" lists. Excel spreadsheets are my friends. I might not sit for hours each day with the freelance stuff, but I set short-, medium- and long-term goals.

Then, most importantly, I decide *when* I'm going to do stuff that's chilled, like watching an episode of Supernatural while having dinner, going to the gym or playing guitar. Or simply just reading. I'm lucky in that I spend almost two hours a day commuting by train. This is my sanity time where I plug in music, relax and read.

I do admit I don't have much of a social life. Due to health issues in the past, I no longer go out to clubs or large events. To be honest, I prefer living quietly. The husband already has his film production company, so our lives get pretty *interesting* while they're in pre-production or shooting. Not to mention his photoshoots, which invariably turn the house upside down. Writers' meetings and book launches are the highlight of my month. Sometimes we go out on accommodation reviews or road trips to visit family.

Mostly, it helps having a home environment that's a haven. You need to create a space in which you feel comfortable to work that's yours alone. Let the rest of the family understand that when you close your door, it's closed, and you're not to be bothered. Then, set yourself goals for just that hour that you're working, be it editing 10 pages, writing 500 new words... And do just that, without any distractions. That means closing browser windows and hiding your phone in your desk drawer, if need be. Then, aim to do this every day at more or less the same time, so that it's a routine. Don't be afraid to refine your goals.

You'd be amazed at how much you can get done.

Oh, and don't forget to make time to just relax too, hey. Go walk the dog or take on a hobby that *doesn't* involve being crouched in front of a screen.

Now, go check out my books and feed some to your Kindle. (Had to put some sort of commercial thingiemajig in, mmmkay?)

1 comment:

  1. My lunch break is often where I make the most progress on my writing! even 500 words a day adds up. In the winter, when I'm not taking my bike to work, I write on the bus. Less exercise, but more words -- another reason to love winter.
    Wish I could be as organized as you in taking on freelance writing and editing gigs. I tend to overbook myself and end up with little time for chilling out. :(