Monday, October 13, 2014

How To Find More Time In Your Life for Sport Fishing, Sex, and Marketing Your Books

Copyright © 2013 John Klawitter
Originally Published by 1st Turning Point

If you were going to change your life — really change your life — how would you go about it? Where would you begin? I can help you, but first you have to realize how boxed in all of us are right now. Boxed in? Yes, we all are, with our obligations to family, friends, and ourselves.
Let’s use both you and me as examples. Start with me: I get up at five in the morning. After the usual half hour to make myself beautiful…err, make that presentable, I grind a pot of coffee, adding the usual cinnamon, ground cloves, cardamom, and nutmeg. Then I’m out for an exhilarating half hour with our lab, Duke, yanking me around the neighborhood. By now it’s 6:30 in the morning. I microwave an oatmeal square, grab a few chunks of Trader Joe’s dark chocolate and a huge mug of Caffe Americaine (half coffee and half hot milk), and head for my computer. I write or record or do post until 11:00, then answer emails until noon. One hour for lunch, one for chores, one for shopping, two hours of writing, time for dinner, nighttime news, and a movie or a good book. The next day, I do it all over again. Enough about me. Review your own life. Any similarities?
Distressingly, did you note that in my schedule, I didn’t include any time for new business, show pitches, and book marketing? Yet, that’s how my days tend to flow by, one after the other. The weekends aren’t much better, what with the grandkids and so on. Looks like I’m stuck in concrete here. And maybe you are, too. How the hell do we change our lives?
Actually, there is a way. I try to use it all the time, and maybe many of you do, as well — it certainly seems to help. My method starts with the realization that the most important cycle in human life isn’t the 24-hour day or the month or the year…it is the humble, standard, ordinary week. You can’t change your life if you think in days, because they seem too random, and a month is too long to try to map out — and a year, well, you know how those New Year’s resolutions end up.
I promise you, if you map out your week, it will open your eyes. Take a ruled legal pad, draw vertical lines to create a column for each day. Save room on the left side for the time 1:00 a.m. through noon and back to midnight, with room at the top to list Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc.
Next, block out your sleep time. This will come as your first shock. We’re robbed of half our time before we even get started! I use a black marker to block out this rude chunk of wasted time. Then use different colors to block out shower, dressing, breakfast-lunch-dinner, travel time to and from work, work hours, necessary chores, and family time.
If you’re like me, you’ll find your weekdays are compacted by things you have to do. And weekends are different, but not much better. The discipline of mapping the hours of your seven-day period should make one thing clear — sacrifices have to be made. Are you going to write an hour less every day? Of course not. That would be self-defeating; after all, you are a writer. Maybe you could sleep a half hour less? Maybe. Could you figure out how to work on your marketing while eating a sandwich over lunch? I know the experts say you should concentrate on just eating while you’re eating, but after all, it’s only food. And we’re talking your career here.
With this chart at your fingertips, you can push and pull, nip and tuck, steal 15 minutes here and a half hour there, and use those precious purloined seconds to promote your books. In other words, just as you’ve been giving hours each day to your muse, you have to give some time each and every day to the gods of marketing. Your weekly chart will show you how and where you might be able to do it!
This is truly possible. Staying aware of the passing hours will make you conscious of the value of your commitments. Sure, you can help pal Jodie shoe his horse, but that means you won’t be able to contact that hot new agent who says on Publishers Marketplace she’s looking for a novel just like the one you’re writing. Staying active on your social blog will eat up the time you could have used to promote that selfsame hot new offering, so you have to socialize smarter. The press of passing time will nudge you to hone your internet interests to sites like 1st Turning Point, Goodreads, EPIC Authors, and Mystery Writers and International Thriller Writers.
Is that too harsh; too career-driven? I don’t think so. Writing has always been a tough hike through unknown territory. It only makes sense that we are aware of how valuable our time is. Once you see your own chart of how your seven-day week slips through your fingers, you’ll realize where you can improve your habits, make better choices, and squeeze out more time to pursue your goal — to get up there in the lights with Flannery O’Connor, Marcia Muller, Scott Turow, or whoever you believe you can be.

You can take back your life. Just take it in manageable chunks, one week at a time. As for that sport fishing and sex I promised in the headline, if you carve out the time now to market your books, later on you’ll have room for all that other stuff. After all, doesn’t everybody want to go fishing and bed down with a famous author? (Remember, I didn’t promise anybody true love here. But if you find yourself at sunrise down around the tip of Baja with a forty-pound albacore on the hook, you may well believe you’re experiencing the second coming. Or maybe even the third.)

John Klawitter is a Hollywood writer, producer and director who writes fiction and non-fiction books. He often adapts his novels to screenplays that he then peddles around town. (So far, a few fat options, but no brass ring.) His novels are based on his years surviving as a creative person in the ad biz and in show biz. It is an interesting life.
He has worked as the Creative Director of Disney Studios in Burbank, and as an independent creative resource for Warner Bros, Universal Studios, Paramount and the Disney Channel, as well as for many indy production companies including Hanna Barbera, Franke Films, Pink Planet Productions, Eyeline Films and Zoiyu Productions. His films and television specials have appeared on NBC, the BBC, and the Disney Channel, and he has written many memorable song lyrics, advertising jingles and television show openings, including “Disney’s Wonderful World”, “Now & Then”, and “The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show”.

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