Friday, May 27, 2011

Spinning Plates: Writing, Reading, Critiquing, Revising

Picture from this site

Do you ever feel like this guy? 

I do. 

Except in my case, it's more like the plates, symbolic of my priorities, are strewn about the floor in chips and pieces. I'm the least qualified person to talk about writers and priorities, which is probably why I feel drawn to the topic. 

*whispers* I don't even have a set time to write every day. 

That's right. I said it. I'm a lump writer. I write in huge lumps when I 'get the time.'

And I know you're just as busy as I am, if not more so. So how do you do it? I'm looking at you, Kiersten White. And you, Elana Johnson. And you, Blogger buddies.

In our line of work, there's a near constant need to be doing something, whether it's writing, reading, revising, or critiquing for someone else. Each of these activities requires the mind's whole focus, so you can't exactly multi-task like these plate spinners, right? How do you cope with the feeling when you're reading that you should be writing? Or the feeling while you're critiquing that you should be reading? Or the feeling while you're writing that you should be cleaning? Or making dinner? Or calling your mom? 

Seriously. How do you spin all these plates and keep them in the air at the same time? 

Or is it more like this guy who does his level best, but can only keep them all running for a few seconds?

How do you decide what comes first? And what do you do when you don't feel like doing any of it?


  1. I'm a scheduler, though I don't write it down or anything. I read blogs in the morning with my coffee, write for the after-dinner hours and do other things in between, when I can. It's making sure those late hours are set for writing that helps me most of all, because I don't feel guilty about not writing at other times.

  2. Awesome, Chelsey. You've got it together!

    I try to blog in the morning and write at night also, but with my two little tykes running around all day, it's only their brief nap time and after bedtime when I can focus entirely on one thing. So it becomes a nightly self argument: critique, read, or write? Or spend time with my husband, who's only home then?

    I think I need to regroup, buckle down, and follow more of a schedule. It's going to be *gasp* hard work. :)

    Looking forward to more ideas from you writers who do have it all together.

  3. We tried really hard to get it together in May, but we just had too much going on (both of us are teachers with kids in sports, so May's been super busy!). Today is the first day of my (erica's) summer vacation (and my kids are still in school for a week and a half, horray!), so I'm trying this:

    AM: 30 minutes of blogging/blog-visiting, emailing, etc. followed by 30 minutes (or more, if I'm accomplishing anything) of writing. Break to clean house, weed garden, etc.
    After lunch: 30 minutes of writing.
    PM: same as AM

    It doesn't seem like a whole lot, but I know that if I'm not feeling it in the first half-hour, I'm only going to force out a bunch of words that will get deleted later, so I'm hoping this will keep me focused.

    Good luck!

  4. For some reason, I thrive in chaos. Noise is my friend when I write. I often have mood music playing in the background or audio. When I can’t be near the computer I carry a notepad and write or edit. I am currently working on three different manuscripts because each one brings something new and fresh, so I’m not hashing over the same story line. Otherwise I get bored easily. So the more bedlam for me…the better.

  5. I like to have as many plates in the air as I can! Seriously, I write when I can. When I do a first draft, I usually write every day, but not always. A break is good sometimes.
    CP edits are done asap so I have the rest of the week free to do my own edits/writing. Sometimes it works, others it doesn't. I'm quite la la la about it. LOL.

  6. I feel like a plate spinner. (Great analogy.) I work four days a week, I'm in the middle of getting a master's degree, and I take on some freelance writing projects sometimes. Since I'm in a fine arts program, I have to meet manuscript deadlines, so I have to make time to write. I can only procrastinate so much (and I totally blame Spider Solitaire on some of that procrastination). In my program, we have to read a certain amount of books to annotate in a bibliography. So, I have to read as well.

    There are some trade offs I've had to make to keep up this schedule. I watch an occasional movie but no TV. (No time for following shows.) Since I'm inspired by what I read rather than what I see, I find that I don't really miss TV.

  7. :) Solitaire and the like sucks us all in at times, Lin. Good point about trade-offs.

    Erica, thanks and good luck to you, too! That sounds like a very good plan. I think keeping it flexible but assigned is great.

    Angie, I think you have some kind of magic brain. I can NOT write and especially can't critique when my kids are up. I get too swept up in one thing or another. I've been that way since kindergarten when they tried to make us switch centers every fifteen minutes. I was never ready to switch. I'd rather spend all day on one thing and learn/do it really well.

    Lindsay, great idea! You mean I should, like, NOT procrastinate? ;) I think that would solve all my problems. *sigh* Wish I could be you for a day and break some of my bad habits.

  8. I think you just do the best you can. :) I'm notoriously slow with my writing because I procrastinate. Once I get something in my head, it CAN come out on paper quickly. But not always. I always feel like I have less time for commenting lately...

    Just keep swimming!

  9. This is so hard! I feel your pain. I don't keep them all spinning. But I try to keep the most important ones going at all times. :)

    Best of luck!

  10. I really do fly by the seat of my pants. I tend to dedicate evenings to writing/revising, though lately I have slacked off seriously on that... yikes! LOL. But weekends tend to go on more frivolous things, i.e. watching DVDs. yay!!

  11. I try to write in the mornings, but the truth is I do it when I can. And there is so much other stuff too--the blogging SNing critiquing, etc that digs into the writing time. I find for me, time to read is always the thing that comes last and often is cut from the routine. I'm trying harder to keep up with my reading, but it is a juggle all right.
    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse


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