Thursday, March 5, 2009

I've been stealing!?!

When I worked in an office, I didn’t blog on office time, did I? Nor load up the big ol' Blog Feed Reader and check in with all the publishing industry bloggers. Nor did I flit from Amazon stats to Fictionwise stats.

Just FYI, I also didn't print personal stuff onto office paper. If I wanted to use the paper cutter for something personal like bookmarks, I asked first. And I did it after office hours.

Know why? Because, to me, doing those things would be like stealing from the boss!

I just realized after brunch yesterday that I’ve been stealing from myself. If I’m supposed to be “at work” eight hours a day, I need to be working. (That part was pointed out rather vigorously by my Conscience.)

I don’t have current issues with my I.E.—Internal Editor (something Devon Matthews and Taryn Raye have been blogging about). My problem has been with my E.F. –External Fritterer. Most of my frittering is about writing—as opposed to, say, housework—but if I'm not actually working on a manuscript, or preparing a story collage, or making notes about GMC, then I’m stealing from myself.

So as I drove home from the brunch yesterday, I picked what I consider a reasonable annual income I want to make from writing in a year, and divided by 52 for the weeks, and divided by 40 for the hours in each work week. That's how much money I'm stealing with each frittered hour.

This stops, now. Or, actually, it stopped yesterday. I got quite a bit of writing done when I got home from the outing. And after my work day, I checked my email accounts, commented on blogs, read industry news. It makes for a longer, but more productive day.

Thanks, Conscience. And thanks Susan, Taryn, Devon, Nora, Shiloh, Jennifer, Cheryl—and others who keep to a schedule. Finally, I think I GET IT.

The concept of stealing has made it more real to me.



  1. A schedule definately helps. You know what else helps me? Actually getting dressed and putting my shoes on, like I'm going out. It sounds stupid, I know, but for me it works.
    That doesn't mean I don't do housework here and there. I have to to break up the day a bit. And also, well, because nobody else will do it. That's my job right now. So technically, I guess I'm stealing time from my full-time job (housewife) to write, right?

  2. Jennifer,

    Getting dressed for work (including makeup) was also discussed over brunch. I'm glad to hear that works for you.

    I think I'll allow myself to throw laundry in on my lunch hour and do other quick housework. I did that when I worked in an office.

    The idea of stealing works for me because I've been so terribly undisciplined, and this thought simply shocks me.

    Fortunately you don't have to think of it that way, because you're doing two fulltime jobs at the same time!

  3. I do tend to steal from myself too, Magdalena, but like Jennifer, I also have housewife and mother on there as well as writer.

    I do sometimes fritter my time away- I feel guilty to step away to do dishes or laundry or cook supper- but I also know there isn't another soul in this house who will do it except me- though on the rare occasion hubby will do dishes or run the vacuum, bless his heart!

  4. Taryn, you, like Jennifer, are working two fulltime jobs! And you're so incredibly productive with your writing. Whatever you're doing, it obviously works for you!

    I'm still in the process of figuring out what works for me.

    Part of the time I'm more productive. Lately I haven't been, and yesterday I got really frustrated with myself--then came up with this new way of looking at things.

    I've also started closing the door while writing (Conscience's idea) which also somehow makes it seem like more of a "workplace" setting.

  5. Magdalena, frittering becomes a habit just like anything else. Take it from a champion fritterer AND piddler. So here's what I did. I made myself a worksheet. I sat down and divided the number of words I need for a finished ms. by the number of days until I want it finished. That gave me a word count goal for each day. So every day when I sit down to write, I put my beginning word count on my work sheet. At the end of the day, I record the word count in my ms. Then I do the math and see how many words I wrote. The goal is to keep up with the day's required amount of words, and even better to stay ahead of the scheduled word count. I'm sure what I just wrote makes no sense. If you want I could send you a copy of the work sheet. If you're like me and visual aids work for you, this might be helpful. Let me know and I'll email you a copy. That goes for anyone else out there, too. If you let me know, I'll email you a copy of the work sheet.:o)

  6. Devon, what a neat idea! I'll get with you on the emailing...