Saturday, August 18, 2007

A stitch in time

I wish having a miniatures hobby meant that it takes a miniature amount of time to work at it. But each little scene takes mega-, not mini-time. It took longer than you'd think for me to knit the afghan on the sofa in the photo, with size 000 needles and embroidery thread.

Everything else in my life, from my day jobs to committee work to driving up and down the state of California to address hordes of fans (3) also takes large chunks of time.

So when is there time to write? For those who might still be struggling with how to fit it all in, I have some tips to share.

1. No chunk is too small. The best thing I've taught myself to do is to use small amounts of time productively.
If I have as little as a ten-minute window of "free" time at home or away I open my writing project notebook, or my computer file and make some progress. Even if it's just to tweak one sentence, change that character name I haven't been happy with, or dump those random scene ideas I had on my way to work. It's a way of keeping the story at the front of my mind no matter what else is going on.
Waiting for the perfect long stretch of quiet (which might be necessary at times), with the perfect temperature, and the perfect snack food, can stall the process. The loss of momentum makes it harder for me to get started when that quiet evening does come along.

The afghan on the sofa was done in mini-chunks. Two minutes while I was waiting for my printer to discharge pages gave me a row; being on hold with the phone company got me three rows, plus an update of my Google calendar.

2. Sleep through household chores. I never use prime time for tasks like folding clothes or waxing the kitchen floor. (Does anyone do that anymore?) Those are things for times when I'm least alert. You might hear my dryer going at one in the morning, which, by the way, is better for the power grid.

3. Embrace technology. I know it gets a bad rap, especially when it's in the form of cell phones, but how great is it to be able to access my calls while I'm in line at Safeway? Headphones allow me to iron or write thank you notes while I'm hold for my doctor. I say thanks to the geniuses who make it possible for me to screen my calls and TiVo my favorite crime dramas (for research of course!) for viewing at my own convenience.

Today I sat in a physical therapy room, electrodes attached to my frozen shoulder, and edited this blog. I hope it was worth the time!

Albert Einstein said, “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.” I interpret that as: take everything ten minutes at a time.


Kathryn Lilley said...

Good techniques, Camille! My one ironclad writing rule is to write at the same time every day. I write in the early morning, two hours a day. Even if they're not especially productive hours on any given day, the regular habit of writing--every day, no matter what--keeps me moving forward.

Monica Ferris said...

I agree with both Kathryn and Camille. Set aside work time -- if this is to be a business, it has to have time allotted to it, just like any job. On the other hand, fragments given to it can be fruitful. I, too, have spent time in physical therapy knitting or stitching while something electrical pulsed at my leg. And sometimes the story has more urgency when I'm trying to squeeze the telling of it into a too-small timeframe.

Camille Minichino said...

Good point on the urgency, Monica. Though you're most likely not perverse like me ... I can get more done if I think I have only a few minutes than if I think I have all day.

And I wish I were as disciplined as Kathryn!

Deb Baker said...

In this business we have to be good at multi-tasking. And we are.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

I appreciate all that you all have said. It's good to know I'm not the only one trying to keep twenty balls in the air at once--and write! Camille, I love the afghan. Was it knitted or crocheted?

Camille Minichino said...

I knitted the afghan, Joanna ... it takes a light/magnifier for my old eyes! I used 000 single point needles and cotton embroidery thread. TIP for those who want to do this ... use single ply thread, or the tiny needles will split every stitch.