It won't always be attached to a personal update like this one. As two of the reward tiers for my patrons and the closest thing I have to exclusive content, many of my behind-the-scenes revelations and personal updates don't make it to the blog. But I'll couple it with some meta order of business or the occasional personal update, or a critique on cheese or something and you can see how messy the process gets and divest yourself of the belief that books are shat out by the inspiration fairy when lightning hits a writer and rainbow prose comes glittering out their ass.
So anyone who has been watching me on Facebook these last few weeks knows that I am over the moon about my new nannying schedule. If I had to come up with a perfect schedule for a side gig, I would sit down and write out the schedule that I have now. (Okay, maybe I would give myself a threesome day every other Thursday and a three-day weekend, but it would be mostly the same.)
I was working too much before––even after trying to cut back. The week was more hours than I needed and almost more than I could stand. I also tended to sputter and glut because my schedule would be ten hours one day and then only three the next. I'm no good for a few hours after getting roasted either; I get home and just stare at the wall for two hours, thinking about how hungry I am, before I can even think about dinner.
On the other hand, I ALSO have a bad time (probably because of ADHD) when I have the entire day empty. I tend to waste it until the last possible second of a deadline. It's not even FUN procrastination either where I'm like "Fuck it. I'll do it later," as I go to the beach or play Fallout 4 for hours. It's the kind where I'm sitting in my chair and saying "Okay, I really, really, REALLY need to focus now" for the entire day.
The best schedules for me? About 20 hours a week. (Enough to supplement my writing income, but not so much it eats my writing time.) A little every day so that have a sense of urgency and pacing. No front- or back-loading of the week so that I'm constantly jacked on managing my time. The same TIME every day so that I can write at the same time every day––which turbocharges my ability to sit down and write without staring at the screen for an hour or two first. Not too early because I'm a bit of a night owl and good sleep is connected to creativity. A weekend on the actual weekend (not two days off in the middle of the week when I'm doing a lot of writing) so that I can do half writing days and it actually is rejuvenating.
My new schedule? M: 1-6 T-F: 2-6. 21 hours. Same amount every day (with a tiny variation on Mon). Same time every day. A little each day. Not too early. Actual weekend.
It's so perfect, I could cry. To be honest, I did a little, but when someone asked I told them I was cutting onions for a lasagna. Now all I need is that every other Thursday thing.
Well a new schedule for me means a new update schedule.
There's a link if you want to check out all the nooks and crannies. I'll put the big information at the end of this post. (Some people really like knowing the minutiae of how working writers set up their schedules and what they expect of themselves, but it's not everyone's cup of tea.)
I didn't expect to have any other news, but I woke up to some.
James Bond––not 007 but rather the scampliest scamp of a jellicle cat who was raised on the streets, wore a tuxedo, and rejected the gender binary (that's her in my profile picture)––died last night. She kept eating things that she couldn't keep down (because on the streets, that's what you gotta do), and I guess that caught up with her.
We met James about 9 years ago. She was a local "feral*" that showed up suddenly after a four-unit apartment next door was emptied for a major renovation by the owners who wanted to charge a lot more. Someone couldn't keep her and had just abandoned her to her the fate of the local neighborhood. And we would see her day after day chasing mice or just scrapping with toms twice her size.
*But not really. Read on!
At first it was just a bowl of food each day. But then she started showing up at food time and it wasn't long before she let me pet her, and even hopped into my lap after dinner was over to get some serious snuggles complete with chainsaw purring. Clearly she had had humans before and wasn't really feral.
Then came the rainy night where she showed up waterlogged on the front porch with a tiny "Mew!"
We never stood a chance.
And many vet appointments later for the worms and the abscesses in her teeth (that probably would have killed her within a month or two), her breath cleared up, her coat got glossy, and she became the sweetest lap cat most who met her had ever seen. She would always find a willing set of fingers, claim she had never been loved ever, and purr so hard you could hear her across the room.
At first we would wonder who on earth would simply abandon such an incredibly sweet cat, but very quickly we were just too glad they did.
She never did learn to keep her claws in when she jumped off a lap, she ate anything that hit the floor (and a few things that didn't), she hunted her toy mouse each night in the wee hours of the morning to stay sharp, and she always kind of acted like at any minute the good times would end and she'd be back to being a scrapper on the streets. We'd come down and find her guiltily wolfing down kale or cantaloupe seeds like she was getting away with murder. But after the initial layer of grime and fleas were cleaned off, and once she learned there were bipeds looking out for her, she turned into the sweetest purrbucket I've ever known.
Our new schedule (for those who give a shit about such things):
Fridays, for the most part, will be The Big Post™ of the week. If you're here for the hard-hitting writing advice (with the occasional examination of how language and narrative play into broader social issues), Friday is the day to tune in.
Tuesday and Wednesday
Wednesdays and Thursdays will be our smaller posts: calls to vote or nominate in whatever poll is going on, the best of the prior month, quickies, fortune cookie wisdom. Things I like to call "jazz hands."
Mailbox! Far and away our most popular type of article here. It's time the mailbox had its own day again and we got to it weekly.
Harder to qualify than simply "big" or "jazz hands," Mondays are probably between Wednesdays and Fridays in their content and girth. They will be personal updates, smaller mailboxes, prompts, guest blogs, etc.
The Five-Post Goal
Some weeks aren't going to go down like clockwork and they might be front or back loaded with side gigs or other commitments. My writing career is also starting to open up occasional opportunities of interest like conventions, speaking engagements, interviews, or podcasts. I'm trying to be better about the (literally) health-shattering 80+ hour weeks I was working. That's a needle to thread when you are your own boss and you know that people will lower your income if they aren't getting enough of the content they want. So in the cases of major schedule upheaval, I will try really hard to get five posts up. They might just be posted off schedule––Thur, Fri, Sat for example, but I will try hard to at least hit five.
Priority to Fiction
The hardest thing I've tried doing as a blogger is keeping my fiction at a high level of priority. There may be weeks where I just straight up take a post off to work on my story. As you can see from the link through, that's what the majority of my Patreons said was okay with them. Now, I saw a slightly different reality reflected in the numbers of folks who reduced or cancelled their support amounts, so I'm going to try to keep more plates spinning thanks to this new schedule.
Facebook Writing and Social Justice Bard
Most of my major writing ends up on this blog, but some of my throw away thoughts don't. If you particularly enjoyed our Social Justice Bard posts, don't worry. I do as much yelling at clouds as I ever have.
I invite you to follow my Public Facebook Page (you can friend it if you send me a message, but it might be better if you follow it for a while first––unfiltered me is not everyone's cup of tea). I post somewhat more "political and partisan thoughts" there (rather than just social ISSUES) and also often post "proto-versions" of what later become full blog posts (if you're interested in seeing how those things develop). [There's also personal updates and nerdery there.]
I also have another blog called NOT Writing About Writing that I update usually once a week or more where I put shorter media reviews, personal updates, and political thoughts that don't really tie into writing and aren't really short enough for Facebook. Also, fret not; there may be fewer SJB posts here on Writing About Writing since we'll be dealing with fewer available "posting slots" overall, but there will still be some.
Everything I ever write (and reruns of my best stuff) gets cross posted to that Public Facebook Page, so join me there if you want to stalk me properly.
A Sixth Post?
There MIGHT occasionally be a sixth post in a week. Usually this will happen when I need to cover some ground on "blog business." (Like posting the results of a poll or getting up the prior month's "Best of" posts or something.) In this case you might see an extra post pop up from time to time on the weekend or two in one day. Fiction will also usually go up independent of our regular schedule.
- I still nanny for a five-year-old and a newborn––sometimes at the same time. Plus my host body occasionally succumbs to your Earth illnesses, so those five posts might not always happen like clockwork or may involve going off the rails of my usual updates. Until my Patreon pays all the bills, my reality is that I sometimes have to prioritize paid gigs.
- This flexible update schedule should also cut down on the thing where I'm apologizing to absolutely fucking nobody that it's Thursday and I've yet to put so much as a taco video up. I know that some people are annoyed by that and the rest don't really care. But this also settles my own inner overachiever. As long as I get in all the entries that week, my readers (who have literally never said anything in six years about my update schedule) and myself can give me a break.
- I invoke the Anything Can Happen™ real world excuse. I usually have a couple of "emergency blogs" tucked away, but I chew through them pretty quickly when the fit hits the shan. Health complications might crop up suddenly and have me needing to do a sudden unexpected several-hour shift or even an overnight...or maybe even more. Trust me, I'm going to feel ten times worse about missing a post than all of my readers combined.
- Admin Long-weekends at least once a month will still be a thing. Usually just the Monday (but occasionally the Friday if I'm really behind) will be cannibalized. I need the extra time to answer emails, clean up menus, catch up on editing and such.
Also......folks, if you like what I do, stuff a few dollars into that "tip jar" at the top left, or even better yet, sign up to be a monthly patron through Patreon and get in on the back channel discussions about posting schedules, big changes, and upcoming projects. I have bills to pay like any other starving artist, and I'm working three side gigs to make ends meet, so even a dollar a month (just $12 a year) will go a long way.