In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Thursday, August 25, 2011

In My Words:A Writer and Time -- Who's in Charge?

First a little fun: I also blog with a multi-talented group of writers over at the WordServe Water Cooler. What brought us together? We are all represented by WordServe Literary. My agent is the fabulous Rachelle Gardner. Today's my first time blogging over at the Water Cooler. I hope you stop by and read my post: The Writer's Life: On the Edge of the Cliffs of Insanity. 

Clutter is a sign of genius, right? Right?

That, my friends, is an unretouched photo of my desk. If I'd "touched" it for the photo,you would be looking at some clean-to-the-extreme desk.

But then there would be no visual for this blog post.

I could give you lots of reasons why my desk is such a mess. I could confess there are times my desk is messier. I could claim genius status, hence this is merely a sign of that reality. I could reveal one of my nicknames: Bird of Paradise. My dad dubbed me that because he said he always knew where I was because of my droppings.

Ha. Ha. Ha. 

There is one reason, and one reason alone, for such a messy desk: I don't have the time to organize it. I don't make the time.

Right now time is controlling me instead of me controlling my time.

When someone asks me, "So, how are you?" my standard reply is "Busy."
And it's true. I am busy. Some days it feels like my schedule has my by the throat and his hauling me through life, with the scenery whizzing by.

But here's the question: I am a professional writer.

Another question: Does that desk say professional to you?

Wait. I'm sorry I asked that. Maybe I'm being too harsh ...

Look, I don't think that I or any other writer has to live up to some Martha Stewart standard of organization. (Kudos to anyone who does. And you have a standing invitation to come over to my house and clean off my desk.)

For the last six months or so, I've realized that my schedule needed an attitude adjustment. I needed to confront it. Say no more and yes a whole lot less.

  • I walked away from a non-fiction critique group that I loved. I'd been a member from it's conception--almost 10 years.
  • I embraced (albeit with tears) when God directed me away from longstanding writing avenue in my life. 
  • I recognized tonight it's time for another no. The commitment is beneficial to me. But when I look at my priorities--writing my work-in-progress and my editing commitments--it's time to say goodbye to this too. 
Clarification: By "this" I mean another writing commitment--not this blog. Sigh. Poorly constructed sentence. My friend, Sonia, questioned me about it.

And, who knows, maybe I'll find some extra minutes to put the dictionary back on the bookshelf. Load the software on my computer. Throw that Brighton catalog away. Pay for my Good Housekeeping subscription. Make my picks for the fantasy football draft weekend. (Yes, really.) 

In Your Words: So who's in charge of your schedule--you or the unrelenting busyness? How do you decide what you say yes to and what you say no to?

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At 8:31 AM, Blogger Wendy Paine Miller said...

For me another big step was learning to say no w/out guilt. Ah, that is so freeing.

Someone guessed I was a perfectionist in my comments last night. I laughed when I read that. I let a lot go so the greater things can stay and stay thriving.
~ Wendy

At 8:32 AM, Blogger Wendy Paine Miller said...

Forget to mention I LOVED your post over at the WC (isn't that a bathroom in French?).
~ Wendy

At 8:49 AM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

LOL, Wendy!
And whatever WC means, thanks for the encouragement about my post over at the WordServe Water Cooler. I had fun writing it (and revising it.)
And, believe me, I abandoned that whole trek to perfection a long time ago. There are times when I'd just like to feel less like time controlled me (and yes, I know it does) and more like I was in charge of it.
Delusions of grandeur, maybe?

At 9:35 AM, Blogger Jeanne T said...

Good post and good questions, Beth. Right now, time is controlling me, but I'm working on that. :) Your picture of your schedule dragging you through life and making the scenery a blur gave me a chuckle.

I am trying to start this school year without too many commitments. I've said no to a few things I enjoy, and will probably have to say no to more. I'm evaluating what my goals are and checking which activities do/don't line up with them. Saying good-bye to some things is hard.

BTW, WC in Europe stands for "Water Closet", and yes it is a symbol for the bathroom. If you're ever driving the autobahn and have the "urge" just look for a blue "WC" sign, and you'll be all set.

At 9:48 AM, Blogger Stacy S. Jensen said...

Funny, I said no the "wordserve" blog this morning to save time and read your blog. Now that I see it's your post, I'll have to go over there. Thanks for sharing the tough choices we NEED to make sometimes to get our time back.

At 10:03 AM, Blogger Keli Gwyn said...

Beth, I admire you for posting an unretouched photo of your desk. I recently got a nice big writing desk, thinking the larger surface would help me stay organized. Nope. Just more room to put those oh-so-important papers that remind of the tasks I need to accomplish. =)

Like you, I've been learning to say "no." I had to cut out my weekly Toastmasters meetings and will be bringing my Romance Writers on the Journey blog to a close at the end of this month. Those decisions were tough, but they enabled me to have the time I need for other things. I'm not Superwoman, and I have to accept that there are limits to what I can accomplish.

At 10:36 AM, Blogger Reba J. Hoffman said...

I recently went through an overhaul regarding my time. I mean, did I really need 14 hours of movies every day? No, but I could have needed the seven hours of American Ninja Warrior. I also needed my 18 games of internet checkers. Just one more win...
Seriously, Even though I didn't do any of those, I did have to get focused on what's really important and, because I only have 24 hours in a day, I had to say no and goodbye to some things to make room for my goals.
Great post my friend.

At 12:00 PM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Elisabeth Elliot said: To say yes to one thing is to say no to a thousand others.

I'm whittling down on some of those thousands I've said yes to in the past because I've said yes to some new things. It's hard--but it's the right thing to do.
And my desk looks better--but only because I moved the pile. LOL

At 12:20 PM, Blogger Sarah Forgrave said...

My schedule definitely feels out of control this week, but there are some unusual circumstances dictating that. Either way, I've been saying "Yes" more lately than I should, so I needed this reminder. Thanks, Beth! :)

At 4:40 PM, Blogger Debbie Maxwell Allen said...

Definitely busyness is in control here! But I do keep from having a messy desk--I write from my chaise lounge (free on Craigslist), and have a little table with cubbyholes for all the same stuff that would normally festoon my desk surface.


At 6:05 PM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Huge clarification: I am not abandoning this blog. Not at all. I wrote a poorly constructed sentence that implied the "this" I was walking away from was this blog.
Not at all.
It's another writing commitment.


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