Thursday, September 29, 2011

Riley’s Handy Dandy List

Today Riley Redgate is my guest here on The Write Time. I am blogging over on The Mighty Jungle today.

I met Riley Redgate over at AQC, I was fortunate to have her critique my query when I put it up for review. It wasn’t sugar coated, but it was well said. So as I learned more about her the more impressed I became. Here is a bit of what I've pieced together about Riley: She is a competitive piano player; in a service club, leads an a cappella group, runs cross country, manages/acts with a theatre troupe, She is valedictorian, and right now she has two mss in the works and one steaming up in her brain that's crying out to be written! She claims to never sleep. I tend to believe that based on the time stamps on some of her comments on AQC!

Go check out her blog In The Jungle.

I told her she was a prime candidate to post on my blog, she has accomplished a lot. So here is Riley!

First of all, big thanks to Dean for inviting me here! Perhaps writing about time management will ... er ... make me better at it. Because yep, that's right, I'm not an epically efficient time wizard.

Actually, funny story! I used to be an epically efficient time wizard. Back in middle school, oh man, I was so good at time management. I had schedules for myself. I had blocks of time set up for 1) homework, 2) piano practice, 3) sports practice (soccer, tennis, softball), 4) rehearsal, 5) hanging out with my friends every so often, 6) reading, and 7) necessary bodily functions.

Just kidding. I didn't plot out my necessary bodily functions. I was/am a little neurotic, sure, but not THAT neurotic...

Anyway. Notice what's missing from that handy-dandy list?

Oh yeah, that's right. WRITING. My high productivity levels met a swift and messy end when I discovered something I enjoyed doing that took up tremendous blobs of time. And it was just a vicious cycle from there, believe me. Here's a little how-to guide for emulating my sophomore year (for those of you with whom I'm unacquainted, that's two years ago):

Step One: Get home from school; spend time writing.
Step Two: Start homework far too late; work into the wee hours of the morning.
Step Three: Wake up bleary and exhausted.
Step Four: Slog through school.
Step Five: Come home and spend time writing ... but since I'm exhausted, this takes far longer than it should.
Step Six: Start homework at midnight; spend hours doing what would have taken half an hour had I slept more the night before...
Step Seven: Wake up dead.
Rinse and repeat.

You can imagine how much fun that was! Yeah, not at all. But that's okay - I've come up with an easy, fun, perfect solution.

I have a pretty busy existence. Here's some quick math - every Monday through Friday, I have:

-cross-country practice for twelve-and-a-half-ish hours
-rehearsal for twelve-and-a-half-ish hours
-school for forty hours
-piano for two or three hours; chorus is the same.

So that's 70-ish hours absorbed out of 120 available hours. Subtract eating (I don't eat breakfast; so let's say a small 2.5 hours for food) and general hygiene (2.5 other hours) and I have 45 hours left to play with. According to my father, teenagers are supposed to have 9 and 1/4 hours of sleep a night (HA HA HA yeah right). That's already not feasible; that would require 46 and a fourth hours.

What's the easy, fun, perfect solution to this mathematical paradox, you ask? Where's the writing time coming from?

Tricked you! I was kidding - there is nothing easy, fun, or perfect about having to carve time out of nowhere to do the thing that calls your name 24/7.

What I do know is that going a day without writing would be more frustrating than going a day without food. And... er, yeah, I'm well aware that sounds WAY overdramatic, but it's no exaggeration. Eating doesn't give me any sort of spiritual fulfillment or intellectual satisfaction. After eating, I don't feel like I've gained anything or done anything of worth. Writing, on the other hand, is my outlet. It's what I wait for during those 8 hours of school and 2 hours of running and 3 hours of rehearsal. So yes, I'm willing to sacrifice sleep for it.

Weekends are another matter. More specifically, weekends are heaven. Provided I don't have too much homework, I will sleep and write and sleep some more and lounge around being slothlike and then writewritewrite.

Usually, though, it's a struggle. But hey - you give some, you get some. Personally, I'm way happier having lost bunches of sleep and gained a novel than I would be if I'd just been well-rested all the time.

That said, I don't budget writing time only out of my sleeping hours. I plan characters during my lunch period (yeah, I'm that weird girl scribbling in her car during lunch break), plot while I'm running my cross country workouts, and if a class is being particularly useless... well, I may just find an alternate activity. I maximize the output of every second I can get.

It's a big question, whether we're willing to give up normal activities (i.e. sleeping) for writing, especially when we're in the 'thankless' stage of the process (unpublished, unagented, un-everythinged). But in my opinion, writing is all about risk. How much time am I willing to give? How big a plot am I willing to write? How daring is my concept? Can I really sacrifice sleep and energy for the novel brewing in my mind? We have to put everything we've got on the table, write with reckless abandon. And sure, maybe it's reckless to abandon the conventions of studenthood to stay up typing and retyping the same sentence into Microsoft Word, debating whether the use of passive voice is appropriate here, wondering if my characters are well-rounded enough. These are not problems for normal people.

I guess I'm fine with not being normal.

Thanks again, Dean, for having me! Write on! =]


A.M.Supinger said...

Hee hee! I loved this! Great post, DC and Riley :)

Bethany Elizabeth said...

So, this whole switch idea is awesome, especially about time management. :) School just started again for me and I'm trying to arrange my time. Basically it falls into multi-tasking. Hanging out with friends while studying, writing while waiting in between classes, editing during classes... So, my grades may suffer a bit. Ah well. :)

catwoods said...

For the fourth attempt at leaving a comment today--obviously the blogger gods hate me.

Thanks so much for the great post and another fresh look at managing our time. Love your blog.

Also love Riley, who is a true inspiration to us all. I have no doubt you will succeed and look forward to watching you grow in your writing endeavors.