Working Toward Efficiency

Efficiency–that’s something most of us need now more than ever, with the holidays approaching fast, and that many more things to do, while none of the usual things to do go away. These past two weeks, I’ve been working on developing more focus while writing, so I can get more written in less time.

I’ve also been doing some website work–not for me, but for one of the Mythical Press editors and cover artists. Her sites were old, and slow, the latter for several reasons. One was that it was hosted on an old server, so a server move was in order. This is something that should be easy, but I’ve done several of these recently (including this site), and it always ends up being a big job. My client’s sites were also using old themes, which needed to be rewritten from the ground up (these are custom themes that she liked, so we didn’t want something new). They were also not mobile-friendly, so I added code to make them fit well and display quickly on mobile screens. And finally, we decided that she should have a separate site for her independent cover design business, so that’s now in progress.

If that sounds like a lot of work, it’s because it was. But the thing is, I enjoy doing this stuff (so much more fun than the ones for my day job!). So I didn’t mind spending my time doing this.

I’ve also been working toward more efficiency in my writing time. Often, I have trouble staying focused on the writing while I’m there. (Like a lot of writers, I have “OOOH SHINY!” syndrome.) Having a separate writing computer helps–a lot–but recently it’s still been a challenge. So I took what seems like a counter-intuitive step: I’m spending less time there now. Last week I spend only 15 minutes/day writing, and to my surprise, I got as many words done as I’d been getting spending 2-3 times that much time. This past week, I bumped it up to 20 minutes, and stayed the course. I think knowing that I have a limited amount of time makes me buckle down and do the writing. Next week, I’m going back to 25 minutes–the classic Pomodoro method time–so we’ll see how that goes.

hallowedWhat I read last week: Hallowed, by Monica Leonelle. I figured since I read a lot of her craft and business books, I might as well see what her fiction’s like, and this book was free, so what was there to lose? This YA contemporary fantasy was great! The only bad part was that it ended on a cliffhanger, and the rest of the series isn’t currently available. I believe it was at one time, but she’s reworking them, I seem to remember reading somewhere.

breakwritersblockI also read Break Writer’s Block Now by Jerrold Mundis. I don’t have writer’s block–in fact, one of the book’s main points is that there is no such thing–but I was hoping for some tips on staying focused. This is where I got the idea to spend only 15 minutes/day writing, then work up to more time. So it was very worthwhile!

smithsmonthly13This past week, I read the short stories and serial segments in Smith’s Monthly #13, by Dean Wesley Smith. I’m only a year behind on these now. 😀 As always, they were fun and entertaining.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I’m now about halfway through drafting my novella, thanks in large part to the tip in Break Writer’s Block Now. With the holidays and all the extra stuff to do that they entail, I don’t expect to speed up by much, so my goal is to complete at least one more scene, ideally, two.

What about you–have you discovered a way to be more efficient with anything recently? If not, what would you like to do more of in less time? Whether or not you’re participating in ROW80, how are you doing with any goals you may be working toward? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

7 Responses to \

  1. I do find that the less time I have, the more I end up writing. I think it’s because it cuts out all the pointless internet meandering I feel I have to do before writing. Haven’t kicked the habit yet, alas.

    I use the Pomodoro method and it’s great.

    This round is going very well for me thus far. 🙂

  2. These last couple of weeks, I’ve been wrapped up with family stuff (my mother took a hard tumble down some steps and ended up with a compressed fracture in her lower back) so I’ve been grabbing bits of time during the day to write. And like you, Jennette, I’ve discovered the short bursts of time have been very productive. Yay! Keep up the productivity!!!

  3. I hope you see results. Finding time is rather like finding a needle in a pile of straight pins, but it can be done.

    Here at the inn, I’ve been knee-deep in holiday decorating. This is a huge place to decorate. But, I think I’m finally done. My hubby has done zilch on the outside, but I refuse to nag him. If we have no lights or garland or wreaths this year, I’ll just do it myself next year.

    Have a great week and Happy post-Thanksgiving!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  4. Ah, efficiency! I feel sometimes that is as mythical as unicorns, but I think the shorter time writing is a key element. If I have more time, I meander around, and gear up for ages. If the clock is ticking, I’m much better at just doing it! That goes for most things in life–making doctors’ appointments, writing staff evaluations, and other things I dread. I don’t dread writing, but I am afraid of the blank page, so it works much the same way.

    I also reward myself, in small ways. I’ve found big rewards for big tasks don’t work for me, but if I grant myself fifteen minutes to read a novel after I’ve written for twenty minutes, that often works.

    Happy post-Thanksgiving to you, Jennette! It sounds like you are succeeding at your goals this Round–huzzah!

  5. Okay, so I’m two weeks late. Off with my head! But before you do, I have to say how inspired I am with the discipline you’ve showed. Sometimes those short sprints are just what our tired minds need to let loose a bit of creativity without burnout. They add up as you mention. So congrats to you Jennette! You’ve given me something to shoot for. Thanks. 🙂