Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Boundaries and Inspiration

image I’ve said it before, but I still haven’t done it: I need to set office hours. It’s a little ridiculous. I work all day because I feel guilty that I’m behind or not getting more done. But I never catch up. And so I sit at my computer from 9am – 11pm.

The problem is that what I get done in fourteen hours is probably not that much different than what I would get done if I limited myself to eight or ten hours, you know?

So along with taking the time to be inspired, to think, to read, and to imagine, I’m setting boundaries. Starting tomorrow. I have no idea what I’m going to do with the extra hours, but… I am more productive if I take the time to read, work out, go to a movie, take a walk, whatever.

Speaking of productivity, last week I discovered FocusWriter. Oh. My. God. (Melanie, the first theme is for you. :-)

It’s a full-screen text editor, but what’s cool is you can set your own background image. (Desktop wallpapers work really well.) You can also set daily word count or time goals, but the beauty in the program is creating a writing environment that inspires you.

You can create multiple “themes,” one for each story you’re working on. Here are mine:

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Inspiration is not something I bothered about for the last nine years, but this year? I need it. I’m even writing with music, and you know how I feel about background music. And now I’m addicted to FocusWriter!

So how do you keep boundaries on your work/writing time? How do you keep yourself productive? How do you inspire yourself when you write?

29 bonus scribbles:

Edie Ramer 5/27/2009 09:39:00 PM  

I've been wasting time instead of writing a synopsis. Now I have the shiny new idea to explore, but I can't until I finish the synopsis. That's my motivatation. For me, the background images won't do it. And I do set word counts when I'm serious about writing.

Susan Helene Gottfried 5/27/2009 09:41:00 PM  

That is cool. Probably too distracting for me, though.

I've been distracted a lot lately. Feel like I've lost my zing. I know what's doing it, but am not quite sure how to fix it. Hmm...

Eric Mayer 5/27/2009 11:26:00 PM  

I don't set any boundaries and like you I often find myself still cranking away at 11 pm because...well...because there's work to do and I can. On the other hand I sleep until late so I need to work late. Plus I am kind of a binge worker anyway. Once I'm on a project I like to bang away at it steadily. It works, so long as I don't have a complete mental and physical breakdown.

Nadine 5/28/2009 01:09:00 AM  

I'm going to try that tomorrow, to set a schedule. Cause I seem to sit at my computer all day and not get a lot done.

Charles Gramlich 5/28/2009 02:35:00 AM  

I didn't get a word written today, but I finished the fifth Harry Potter book.

Bevie 5/28/2009 06:50:00 AM  

I write when I can, which could be any time of the day or night. It's when I know I won't be interrupted, which means it's when I'm either home alone, or up in the middle of the night.

Don't set boundaries because these times often don't last long anyway.


But query writing will put the brakes on me faster than anything.

G 5/28/2009 07:03:00 AM  

Those backgrounds are neat, but knowing me, I probably would be writing to the background instead of writing what I want.

I keep myself productive by adhering to the goal of writing two pieces of flash a week.

I find that helps me a lot in other aspects of my writing, which right now consists of primarily coming up with other ideas for longer short stories.

As a matter of a fact, I just finished a piece of flash that I liked so much, that I plan on turning it into a longer story.

Kath Calarco 5/28/2009 07:19:00 AM  

Spy, you mentioned that you're more productive if you take walks, work out, read, etc. I think that's necessary. It's where the inspiration is fed - you need to fill the well back up. All those subliminal stimulants are out THERE, not in your office from 9 to 11 each and every day. So, take time out to do other things - and then create (new office hours).

Amy Sue Nathan 5/28/2009 07:50:00 AM  

I plow through my own boundaries on a regular basis, yet I feel so good when I stay within them.

I know I write well in the morning and afternoon yet sometimes I allow those to slip away.

No more!!!!

Melanie Avila 5/28/2009 10:24:00 AM  

I'm horrible at budgeting my time. I used to be so good at it, but with very few real deadlines, I'm all over the place. And now that hubby is home all the time my schedule is even more out of whack.

Focus writer sounds cool -- maybe I'll look into it. I'm always leary about downloading things (fear of viruses) but maaaaybe I'll check that out. I appreciate the special theme just for me. :P

starvingwritenow 5/28/2009 12:33:00 PM  

I totally want that Jane Eyre page. That's awesome. Not that I'd get any writing done, but...

Robin 5/28/2009 09:43:00 PM  

Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! You are my muse, Spy! First "The Unit", then "The Dollhouse", and now this! I'm trying it this weekend!!!!

writtenwyrdd 5/29/2009 10:02:00 AM  

No thank you, I'll stick to plain old Word. I have my palm trees and blue sky on the desktop if I want something soothing to look at, lol.

I am a failure at discipline when writing. First flaw is the wireless internet. I'm never disconnected so I keep doing non-book stuff. For example today. Pouring outside so I make coffee and sit down to write. Check email, read blogs, play a couple of games on Facebook, read Facebook, see a few ideas in blogs and spend three hours writing blog posts, then sit down to write and decide I really should go do something "useful" as it's stopped raining.

I need to break the internet connection on this computer is what I need.

spyscribbler 5/29/2009 10:03:00 AM  

Edie, I've had my moments of unproductivity, lately. I've been holding the Shiny New Idea over my head, too, LOL!

I don't know what's wrong with me. I've had to pull out all the stops, lately.

spyscribbler 5/29/2009 10:04:00 AM  

Susan, I feel exactly the same. I'm grasping at straws to get it back, LOL!

spyscribbler 5/29/2009 10:05:00 AM  

LOL, Eric! See, I get mental breakdowns, and that's a problem. Well, maybe not breakdowns, but I just will stop, like my mind goes on strike.

spyscribbler 5/29/2009 10:05:00 AM  

Nadine, I've had to resort to turning RescueTime on. It helps me realize how much time I'm wasting, and I get more done. :-)

spyscribbler 5/29/2009 10:06:00 AM  

Ooh! Charles, a very worthy distraction!

spyscribbler 5/29/2009 10:09:00 AM  

Bevie, that makes sense! It really does. Sometimes that saying, "If you want to get something done, ask a busy person," is so true!

spyscribbler 5/29/2009 10:10:00 AM  

G, short stories rock! I haven't tried much flash fiction, but I keep meaning to!

Lately, I need everything I can get my hands on for inspiration!

spyscribbler 5/29/2009 10:10:00 AM  

Kath, totally. My checkbook isn't quite as sure, LOL, but I think if I can find a way to work less, but more productively, we can find a happy medium!

spyscribbler 5/29/2009 10:11:00 AM  

Amy, I hate when I let the morning hours slip away! They're so productive for me!

spyscribbler 5/29/2009 10:12:00 AM  

Melanie, LOL, I didn't make it just for you, I just thought you would like it. :-) It's inspiring me during my vampire story.

I need to work faster.

spyscribbler 5/29/2009 10:13:00 AM  

WriteNow, I love that page. It suits a story I'm working on just now! I just use a desktop/wallpaper background, and luckily, there's a background on nearly everything!

spyscribbler 5/29/2009 10:13:00 AM  

Robin, did you hear The Unit was cancelled? SO sad!!!

spyscribbler 5/29/2009 10:14:00 AM  

Written, I hear you! I used to go to Borders because I couldn't plug into the internet there. Now I can. My productivity went down.

Heather Dearly 5/29/2009 10:36:00 AM  

It is so important to take the time to fill your own well. I hope your new boundaries create inspiration for you! :-)

spyscribbler 5/29/2009 01:50:00 PM  

So true, Heather! Very true! :-) And same to you!

Barbara Martin 6/12/2009 06:47:00 PM  

I write or I don't. If I need to get something written in a short time frame: I write, often going through part of the night with many cups of coffee.

With hard sections where nothing stimulates the cognitive function of my brain I put in bullets of phrases of what I think ought to fit, then write bits of stories around the bullets with transitions between them.

I set easy daily word counts that I know I can accomplish, like 1,000 words. This is above the blog posts that I already write.

Your 'focus' computer software is not for me. I can already focus on my writing, I don't need gadgets.