Thursday, May 20, 2010

Riddle Me This!

They work for Father Time,

But some people hate them

While others love them,

And all writers need them.

What are they?

Do you know the answer? How about taking a guess? No, it is not a clock or timer. Nice try. Nope, if you guessed calendar, oh, you guessed a To-Do List and Schedule. Then you would be totally and completely . . . RIGHT!

One thing I find that works to my advantage is having a To-Do list. It is basically sitting down and looking at all the things I need to do for the day, week, month, and even the whole year. I find having a To- Do list works better for me over a schedule. However, I do have a daily schedule even if I do not keep on track with it all the time.

I am not sure how many of you use both or just one of these to help you as a writer. To be honest, I feel a To-Do list is one of the best tools to help you be a successful writer. If you think about it, you sit down at your desk or open a file on your computer and it shows you all the things you need to get done in order for your manuscript to be mailed out to a publisher or agent. Maybe even both!

To-Do lists break down each thing making the task at hand seem less over-whelming and more manageable. The other thing I love about a To-Do list is if something is not completed the day I had it down, I just move it to the first thing to do the following day and so on. Let’s face it, no matter how hard you try . . . there will always be some kind of work needing to be done. But a To-Do list helps keep is all in perspective. For example, here is what my To-Do list looks like today.

Write blog post about To-Do list and schedules for The Writing Mama.

Link to the SFC blog post “Keeping up with the Neighbors” to all social sites.

Finish uploading SFC back issues to new site.

Get SFC sites ready for upcoming changes and updates.

Now, most of this I have worked on through out my day. Not all of it is done as of yet, but it should be before I head off to bed. However, my daily schedule sometimes does cause a bit of conflict to getting my To-Do list for the day completely done. That is why I have a To-Do list for the week. And here is the reason, my daily schedule:

5:00 am wake up feed Sabrina

7:00 am put Sabrina down for morning nap (You would think this would be a great time to get some writing done, however . . .)

7:15 am get Ashley up and fed.

7:30 am see Dominic off to school, put dog out, and make sure animals are fed

8:00 am get Sabrina and entertain the girls

9:00 am give both girls their bath

9:30 am check emails

10:00 am feed Sabrina

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. My day is booked with taking care of my younger girls while my son, the oldest, is away at school. Thankfully, I do have my hubby here to help a bit. That is until 2:00 pm when he has to get ready for work and is gone until midnight. This is also on a good day. About 1/3 of the time he is gone from noon to midnight. As you can tell, most of what needs to happen at home falls on my shoulders Monday thru Friday. And I still have to find the time to do what I love . . . beyond my family . . . writing!

The one thing to keep in mind about a schedule is it is always changing based on things that need to happen. I look at my schedule kind of how the pirates of the Caribbean look at their Code. “It’s More Like Guidelines.” I don’t think I could have said it better myself.

That is why I have a weekly To-Do list. It will include each thing I want done on a daily basis. I break it up by day based on how much time I know I will have for my writing. Which are normally about three to four things on my weekly list per day. And that means I am really working my butt off to get it all done or the girls are being very cooperative.

The thing I find helpful about my schedule is it helps keep the momentum going so I can reach my writing goals. My To-Do list is my writing goal broken down over manageable time. As much as I hate having to keep a schedule or something close to a schedule, I find if I did not then I would not find the success I do by completing each of my goals as a writer with my To-Do list.

So how do you stay on track with your goals, workload, and time? Do you keep a To-Do list? A calendar? Use a timer so you do not work too long on one thing? I would love to know what works for you.


  1. I guessed the answer would be deadlines, but to-do lists can work the same way.

  2. I've found recently I HAVE to have a to-do list for the day or I waste time trying to figure out what to do!
    I also make a goal for the month like edit a certain MS. Then daily, try and hit 2000 words/10 pages written/edited.
    Now that I have a system, summer is here! Now what?

  3. Taffy, just keep to your system even in the summer. Remember your schedule is a guideline. You may not always get to everything you plan for the month on the day you plan to do it, but it will get done if you keep it in the for front. I have my to-do list right in front of my keyboard so I can miss it. I also have my calendar set-up with pop-ups I can't forget about. This helps to keep me somewhat on track each day and week.

    Like I said above, no matter what the work isn't going anywhere. It will be waiting for you in the morning, the next day, but try not to make it next month or heave forbid NEXT YEAR!

  4. Wow, Virginia, your schedule is so tight!! Now I feel so guilty that I'm not using my time better. Well at least your starting young!

  5. LOL. Kathy, I still consider myself young, but I'm not that young. I'm 35 this year. I know it's not old, but still, I don't have the energy I did in my 20's.

    Don't feel too guilty. I had to put SFC Magazine on hiatus to even keep up with what I still have on my writing plate.

  6. My schedule is so chaotic, especially with my speaking engagements, a schedule itself is out of the question. However, I am BIG on to-do lists! That keeps me on track. I also have checklists - virtual dates, physical dates, etc. - so I keep on top of what needs to be done before the actual date.
    Yes, I maintain a lot of lists!

  7. I don't keep a to-do list other than just trying to stay on track. I try to remember to put things on my calendar so I know where I'll be heading. Thanks for the informative article though. E :)

    Elysabeth Eldering
    Author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad, 50-state, mystery, trivia series

    Where will the adventure take you next?

  8. I've always been a sucker for riddles AND to-do lists. Probably a disease!

  9. Nice lead back! I'll admit I didn't know the answer.

    I don't usually use a to-do list--I know I should, but never seem to get around to actually doing it.

    My older daughter will be 34 this year and has a 4 year old boy, and 1 1/2 yr old boy. I can see the energy isn't the same as in the 20s. Although, they are a handful.

    Just wait until you're in your 50s and babysitting your little grandkids! :)

  10. Of course, my first thought was a clock or watch. This is fun! And a good thing to have.

  11. To-do lists can be very helpful if you use them. Great blog post. Liked the riddle. Thought the answer was a clock.