Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Staying Productive

I'm reading three books right now -- so, to start, the two books that I won't talk about here (as I doubt they really interest many blog visitors) are The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Force and Motion by Jeffrey Lang.  Both are good so far. :)

The third book is Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind, edited by Jocelyn K. Glei.

It's a short, quick read.  I sat down with it and ended up reading half of it on the first day.  The book compiles short essays from leading thinkers on the areas of productivity and creativity.

While many of the essays focus on singular topics that often don't really impact me, there are little nuggets of useful information to be gleaned from almost every essay.

The first two sections (the ones I've read) are entitled "Building a Rock-Solid Routine" and "Finding Focus in a Distracted World," both of which are pretty self-explanatory from the section titles.  I've started the next section, "Taming Your Tools," which is about using email, social media, and computers as tools, rather than feeling obligated to connect with them 24/7 to the detriment of our health, productivity, and creativity.  The next section, which I'm looking forward to the most, is "Sharpening Your Creative Mind."

This book is meant primarily for people who are in a creative profession -- but that can be an "artsy" profession like writing or painting, or it could even be a generic business profession that involves creative thinking (like a marketing coordinator, CEO, or social media managers).

This book was handed to me (by my mom) at an interesting time.  I'm struggling to remain productive.  Like with any profession, the "business-y" side of things has taken over.  I write when I can, but that's in between blogging (here and on my own blog), managing Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr, starting up an erotica and erotic romance publisher, hosting blog tours, coordinating author interviews (of authors who want to be featured on my blog), and more.  And that's on top of a full-time day job, a relationship, and something resembling a social life with family and friends.

By the time I'm ready to write, I'm either exhausted or out of time.

I had a super productive weekend earlier this month, where I wrote over 11K words in two days.  However, I haven't written a single word since then.  And that 11K finished off a novella, but I still haven't sent it to my editor, who's waiting for it.

I'm in a period where I feel a little overwhelmed with the writing and business choices I've made.  I've got three erotica pen names, another pen name I'm trying to build in a different genre, and I'm trying to start a publishing business, while working at a full-time job.  Oh, and I'm also still trying to learn the violin and, for a while, I was practicing for 30-60 minutes per day.  (But I haven't touched it in a week now.)

I know it's just a matter of sorting my various tasks into routines and organizing my time better.  I've already figured out that Monday to Wednesday, going to a coffee shop before I go to my day-job is the best time to be productive.  (By Thursday, my morning productivity runs out, and Friday I start earlier and don't have time for a coffee shop.)  I'm there right now, hammering away at this post -- something I wouldn't be able to do at home with my super-cuddly cats that demand attention in the morning.

With yesterday morning dedicated to start-up-publisher-business work and this morning dedicated to writing this post, I'm hoping that tomorrow I'll finally get cracking on the next erotica piece I need to write.  Even then, that's one hour this week.  Not enough time.  I've made a recent decision to reduce/limit social engagements until I can get my routine back in order.  Once that's done, I can work my social life back into my routine.

A lot of this book -- did we all forget this was actually a post about what I was reading? I know I did... oops! -- focusses on making choices to strengthen your creativity and productivity.  One of the nuggets of wisdom I picked up was that creative work should be the first thing you do in the day, which justifies me spending money on a coffee and cookie three times a week at this coffee shop.  If I don't do it in the morning, then I'm not likely to do it in the evening.  And in the section on taming tools, I'm picking up some useful information that I'm hoping will allow me to structure my new publishing business in such a way that I'm not inundated with emails and work -- rather, I can make email and the systems work for me.

Hmm... I just noticed there are two sequels to this book that focus on building a career and building a business.  Based on the strength of this first book, I'll definitely be picking up the sequels (and they might be featured on the next "What I'm Reading" post).



Cameron D. James is a writer of gay erotica and M/M erotic romance; his latest release is Seduced by My Best Friend’s Dad (co-written with Sandra Claire). He lives in Canada, is always crushing on Starbucks baristas, and has two rescue cats. To learn more about Cameron, visit http://www.camerondjames.com.

8 comments:

  1. Wow, busy workaday world, Cameron. Gotta say I'm glad spare time isn't still that rare for me any more. But I do agree on the early hours as best for creativity. Mind seems more agile then. Evenings are more for TV and vegging out.

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    1. Yes! I recently discovered a site that has ALL the Dr. Who episodes, going back to 1963 and including some of the lost episodes... so my evening vegging out and TV time has been filled with retro sci-fi. :)

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  2. OMG, Cameron. Several of us have said this before, but your life sounds exhausting. (I assume you're much younger than several of us here.) Anyway, I hope you have or develop an organizational plan that works for you.

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    1. I don't make assumptions about ages, but you might be right. ;) I'm 33.

      I had a kick-ass weekend where I accomplished a ton of things, so I think I'm starting to get organized!

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  3. I should take this to heart, Cameron. For me the creative work (or at least the writing) always seems to come last.

    However, there's one strategy you haven't mentioned, which is cutting some things out. Prioritizing and pruning. I think that's what I need to do!

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    1. Yes! For a couple weeks I had been playing with the Duolingo app -- it's for learning a new language. For some reason I had gotten the idea that I wanted to re-learn French. It sucked up so much effing time and energy -- and now that I've deleted the app, I'm suddenly productive again!

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  4. "I'm in a period where I feel a little overwhelmed with the writing and business choices I've made."

    Makes sense. The book sounds interesting. I wonder sometimes, though—I've spent so much time trying to organize myself to more and more productivity, and I've been thinking seriously lately about why there's such an urge for more. I know writers get told to work and churn, but that approach hasn't helped me much.

    I got burned out after writing too fast (for me) for too long, and am still trying to figure out how to fully recover...

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    1. I wish I knew how to recover! I have a mini burn out every six to ten months and end up doing absolutely nothing for two months. (I just got over a mini-burnout recently.) If I knew the trick to recovering, I'd be more productive. :S

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