Friday, July 15, 2011

Quality time

Different writing tasks require different amounts of time and levels of concentration. There are the simple promotional tasks: addressing postcards, sending out bookmarks. There are the slightly more technical tasks: updating websites, planning signings. There are the I-need-a-break moments: checking in on Twitter, commenting on a blog post.

Then there are the tasks that require quiet, concentration, and uninterrupted blocks of time: preparing a critique, answering a thoughtful email, drafting a new book, revising on a deep level. This week I worked on an editing task that didn't take much time overall, but that time had to be spacious and unhurried. I needed to go over the kind of changes that require me to pay attention to rhythm, repetition, and consistency. I needed to concentrate, without the feeling of a ticking clock or the expectation of interruptions.

I work tasks into my schedule according to the quality of the time as well as the quantity. Five minutes on my computer before I have to rush out the door is not the same as five unhurried minutes of quiet in my office, or five minutes in a doctor's waiting room, or five minutes on the commuter train.

This is why I set aside certain days where I don't accept social invitations or chore-like appointments (medical check-ups, having the furnace guy come for the annual maintenance, etc.). Knowing that I have to be somewhere at a certain time affects the quality of the rest of the day, so I am careful to give myself free time that really is free in quality, whenever I can.


  1. Quality time. Love the concept--ha! I totally get you though--spacious, unhurried, concentrated time to write is wonderful, and something that is hard for me to get all the time being a homeschool mom. I take my quality moments when they come and treasure them lol.