Friday, January 06, 2006

Nappy You Here--Part 4

And so, following Stanislavski’s teaching that a set of physical actions aimed toward a goal can create the desired emotions—I put my pursuit of joy aside and took a good, hard luck at my daily work schedule.

It hadn’t been working very efficiently lately.

Mired down in whatever book I was working on, once I reached my office I’d find all kinds of reasons to procrastinate the opening of my book file. First, of course, I had to do devotions. Then e-mails. Then there was always marketing stuff. And I write a blog. When I finally did open my book file, my attention wouldn’t seem to last for very long. I’d write a couple of pages, then need a mind break. So I’d check e-mails again. And maybe one linked to an interesting article on the Web. Which mentioned a specific blog I didn’t know about . . . And before you know it, my “mind break” had stretched to an hour. All of this because I couldn’t get a handle on the story. And I would wish and wish I enjoyed writing more. But how could I enjoy it if I wasn’t feeling productive? Meanwhile the deadline would draw nearer. Now, I’ve always managed to pull off the book in the end, and once it was done, I could actually like the thing. But how about liking it while I’m in the midst of it?

With prayer and an open mind to change, joy, I set my work day as the following:

In the office first thing in the morning—somewhere between 6:00 and 7:00. I no longer think about running first thing, which is a major mind shift. I’ve run 5 miles a day for over 20 years—usually first thing after getting up. (With a day off about once a week.) Now I run later in the day.

In the office (coffee in hand), I immediately sit down to write. I can do nothing else until my page count is done. No opening e-mails! If I mind starts to wander, I pull it back. I focus.

After the pages are done, I turn to devotions. Reading the Bible, praying, praying my daily 10 Psalms.

Then I do email. By this time I’ve sat at my desk long enough that I don’t want to linger. Get the things done, and get on with it.

Some quick blog reading. Check comments on my own blog and skim a few other blogs that I keep an eye on.

By this time it’s about noon. Sometime in the afternoon I run, plus take care of marketing issues (which continue to increase), write my blog. Actual hours in my office can still easily run 9-10 hours, but now they’re productive.

A few things help to keep me on schedule. One—appointments during the day are killers. I’ll keep those to a minimum. When I must have them, they’ll be in the afternoon. Two—this one’s a biggie. My 16-year-old daughter is about to take her driving test. License in hand, she’ll be driving her own car to school. This will be the first time in 23 years I haven’t had to structure my work schedule around a kid’s. Do you realize how huge that is? This week I’ve been making my morning schedule work even though I’m interrupted to take her to school. And I’ve managed to fit in my run and other work in the afternoon, even though I had to structure it around picking her up. Soon I won’t have to do that anymore!

Freedom will be sweet.

These last four days I’ve followed this schedule. I’ve not focused at all on emotion. I’m not praying that God will “make me happy.” Joy in my work is that distant goal. But my focus is on the action, the step-by-step objectives of fulfilling the day’s requirements. That is what I pray God’s help for. And, boy, did I run into problems right away that could have upended my schedule if I'd let it. Back in my California office on Sunday night, I discovered my computer had crashed. Before, I would have chucked the next day's page count in order to pursue getting that computer fixed first thing Monday morning. But I didn't. I got up Monday and did my page count and other tasks first, using my laptop. Then with the time I had left in the afternoon, I dealt with getting the computer in to be fixed. I also had some appointments that I'd made last month. But I worked around them.

Already I feel happier. I’m more productive, and in that productivity, I feel more competent. I’m convinced that tasks achieved, day by day, will one day lead to having the real joy and excitement in my work that I once had.

One of the BGs wrote me an e-mail today. Said while she was praying for me, God told her “in her spirit” that my joy for writing would be restored, and that He would reward me for writing even when it hasn’t been a joyful task. That resonated with me. I felt God’s promise in my soul. I’m claimin’ it.

2006 is gonna be dynamite. Already is.

And that’s the way my year has started. Hey, only took me 4 days to tell the story. Better than four months, which I’ve been known to do.

Besides my new schedule, there’s all kinda cool stuff I have to look forward to this year. I’ll be filling you in on some things soon. Good things happening with books, that unique marketing for the Kanner Lake series that I’ve hinted at, Web of Lies releasing next week, my first foray into Costco, and more.

And speaking of the Web of Lies release—they’re baaaaack. The spiders, I mean. Last night one sat on my bedroom ceiling above my pillow. Just waiting for me to lie down in the dark . . .

See ya Monday. If I’m still alive.


Gina Holmes said...

"Freedom will be sweet." Hah. Thanks for the smile first thing this morning. I still have a decade plus to be able to say that.

I reviewed Web of Lies on Novel Journey today, btw. Good stuff--your book not my review writing, which could use a little BC magic.

Robin Caroll said...

And just why don't I have an advance copy of Web of Lies???? Sheesh, I've gotten influencer copies on all the others. Poor me, I must be slipping! SIGH...guess I'll just have to wait until it actually comes out!

Domino said...

Emails! I need to make them a reward for my having done the writing first. I can focus. I just know I can.

Good plan.

Jennifer Tiszai said...

I was just thinking today about how I always feel more productive when I stick to my schedule. Everything seems to fall into place better and everyone around me is happier. At times I have wondered if I should be more free-flowing about it. But I've tried that while the kids have been off school and have not gotten nearly as much done. Your words made me think that it's not even so much getting stuff done, but the end result of satisfaction and joy.

Thanks for sharing.

rose mccauley said...

Thanks for sharing your new plan, Brandilyn. I've always had my quiet time first, then got some other things out of the way before I sat down to write. And I've not been as productive as I should be. Next week I am starting Janomo (one of my friend's take on NaNoMo)and am gonna pray about starting the day off with writing until I reach my self-imposed quota of 2,000 words, then have devotions and see how the other stuff falls into place. Sounds like a plan! rose

Dineen A. Miller said...

I'm so glad you you're posting this. Congrats on the soon-to-be freedom. I have a daughter driving on a permit now. Looking forward to being freed from some of the running around soon.

A shake up and revamp of scedule seems to be a common theme. I'm trying the same thing myself. I find when I can walk away from a productive day, I have peace inside. Lots of obstacles this week, but I'm stickin' to it!

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I'm glad that God showed you such a proactive plan to regenerate you. It sounds like you and God have it all under control. I'll keep praying for your strength during this trying time!

Was the spider, one of those black and silky ones with the red-orange hourglass tattoo? :-)

Lynetta said...

Thanks for the inspiration. I have been struggling with unproductivity lately, as well. I think I'll rework my schedule and hopefully see the same results.
Blessings in the New Year!

Camy Tang said...

Wow, you're so disciplined. That's my uber-challenge for 2006--to improve my discipline.


D. Gudger said...

I know in my little heart of hearts that a schedule is what I need, but for some reason I dread the schedule thing b/c life is sooo unpredictable - most of all I'll be a mom around the end of March - the adoption agency called and my DH and I have been chosen. Many of you are talking freedom, I'm really gonna have to figure out how to make it all work :)
Thanks for sharing and being a good example!

D. Gudger said...

I know in my little heart of hearts that a schedule is what I need, but for some reason I dread the schedule thing b/c life is sooo unpredictable - most of all I'll be a mom around the end of March - the adoption agency called and my DH and I have been chosen. Many of you are talking freedom, I'm really gonna have to figure out how to make it all work :)
Thanks for sharing and being a good example!