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After an Upset in Your Routine Catching Up Is Hard to Do

How to get back on track after being derailed.

by
Sarah Hoyt

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August 31, 2013 - 11:00 am
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Organizing your Creative Life in 13 Weeks: Week 9

Like an upended turtle, it's not easy to get your creative life right side up after being upended.  But it can be done.

Like an upended turtle, it’s not easy to get your creative life right side up after being upended. But it can be done.

Prolific science fiction novelist Sarah Hoyt follows up her “Your Novel in 13 Weeks” PJ Lifestyle series with a new weekly experiment each Saturday to figure out the best way for all creative types working from home to better organize their efforts.

Week Zero, Introduction: Organizing Your Creative Life In 13 Weeks

Week 1/2, Preparation: The Case For Making Lots of Lists

Week One: How to Make Your Mind Like Water

Week Two: What Are the Best Apps For Artists and Writers Desperate To Get Work Done? 

Week Three: The Lone Writer Against The Time Masters

Week Four: How to Tame Your Subconscious

Week Five: How Separating When and Where You Do Tasks Improves Both Productivity and Quality of Work!

Week Six: Organizing your Life is Like Learning to Juggle Eggs and Chainsaws

Week Seven: 4 Tips So You Don’t Organize Yourself to Death

Week Eight: Organizing your Writing Life When Words Fail You

****

After the chaos that was last week, due to illness in what can only be called extended family – our friend is doing better, thank you – all I can say is that catching up is hard to do.

Yes, I had the techniques from combining Getting Things Done and The Pomodoro Technique.

The problem is as follows: I faced both a boatload of things not done, and the chaos of the week in which my sons returned to college, (with attendant difficulties in finding a given book, issues with parking permits, etc.) combined with this weird lassitude and inability to concentrate which I think is the aftermath of an emotional shock.

The combination made me forget to do the page proofs for a short story and the back-of-book text for the Omnibus of the first two of my shifter books Draw One In the Dark and Gentleman Takes a Chance.

Part of the reason these didn’t get done is that – because of the turmoil of the previous week – I never wrote them down on the index cards.  Mind you, I have the short story sitting right here on my desk, but I forgot to look at it.

Of course, this is because I violated one of the rules of Getting Things Done, which is that when you get an email you should either do it immediately (which would have been possible with either) or enter it in your system and note the priority on the calendar.  This was, of course, because I was what is technically known as “knocked for an emotional loop.”

Of course this is not new for either creative people nor frankly for mothers.  The world goes on, no matter what private shocks you suffer.  To the extent your private world – and both writing and motherhood can be extremely private in process if not in result – interact with other people’s commercial or personal activities, you’re going to have to learn to function when everything around you is falling apart.

It used to shock me that my mother could turn from, say, a problem with her parents’ health, to dealing with a client, and use her best business voice, and sound perfectly composed.

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The other lesson of this week, which I should have known before, is that if you don’t start off with the biggest thing that needs to be done, it will slip away and you’ll either forget it or be too tired to do it.

This.

My plan after the layoff was to get up as usual at 5:30 and write, continuing 'til noon. Worked great on Wednesday. Thursday, I looked at the little chicken... droppings stuff, thought "I'll take care of a couple of these", and found myself worn down and out of creative juice at 1PM with no writing done.
32 weeks ago
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