The Journal: On Efficiency and Establishing Habits

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Topic: On Efficiency and Establishing Habits (and a Bit on Today)
* Yesterday I picked up
* Toward the end of the day
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quote of the Day

“I’m not a young man. I’m old, tired and full of no coffee.” Raymond Chandler, in Playback

I can totally relate. (grin)

Topic: On Efficiency and Establishing Habits (and a Bit on Today)

Yesterday, Mona noted that the recurrent theme in my personal notes over the years has been scheduling. She’s right, and that was an epiphany for me, something I hadn’t realized in so many words.

Another part of my personal psyche is to overcome obstacles and achieve goals. And of course, scheduling informs that and makes it possible. And it makes my life more efficient.

That isn’t to say I can’t waste time and do nothing. I’m adept at that too, but I don’t like it. (This is why I don’t like to sleep. We have only so much time, and I like to spend it doing things.)

Ever since I read about an efficiency expert (John Galbraith, I believe) as a teenager, I very seldom leave a room empty handed.

There seems always to be something I can carry along with me to my destination or that I can deposit along the way. It only makes sense because doing so saves me an extra trip later or saves someone else from having to remove the object him- or herself.

That desire for efficiency soon translated into the two driving forces that define my life as a writer: setting goals and creating schedules.

In my personal long-run, I get more done when I set goals, and I get it done more efficiently when I create a schedule.

Though I do begrudge the time I have to “waste” setting up a schedule in the first place.

As you know, everything (for me) boils down to priorities. But sometimes I let my priorities inadvertently slip.

For example, recently, what had been my number 1 priority for years (writing fiction) slipped and was replaced by writing this Journal or doing other things. I’m working my way out of that quagmire now.

And I experienced a second, lesser epiphany yesterday as well.

I often create “to-do” lists on Notepad documents but then forget to open the document later. That one’s easy to overcome, though I’ll have to spend a little time on it.

So today I’ll dig out an old white board and the appropriate markers.

I’ll find a good location for the white board in the Hovel (a place where I can’t help but see it) and mount it. Then I’ll open those “to-do” lists and transfer the items on them to the white board.

After I’ve done that, partly because writing fiction is my first priority and partly to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the new, looming white board, I’ll escape back into the short story I wrote over the past two days and cycle through the whole thing. My inner child feels there’s something missing, so I’ll add that and be done with it.

Then, with the white board to remind me of other, non-writing goals, I’ll move on into my new schedule. That will begin tomorrow morning:

On writing days (I anticipate having 7 of those per week), I’ll write first. But I can spend only so many hours through the day writing.

Interspersed with those hours, I’ll spend the necessary amount of time doing whatever household chores I have to do. Those never go away.

Then — and this is the key point — I’ll turn to the white board and begin working on one or more of those items.

This should result in a more efficient use of my time. It will enable me not only to spend more time writing (and to Keep Coming Back), but I’ll finally be able to discipline myself to devote the necessary time to some of the licensing goals I’ve brainstormed over the past month or so.

Wish me luck. (grin)

Yesterday I picked up a new patron, so I spent part of the day sending him my recently finished short story (“Seven Minutes in Belfast”) as well as two nonfiction books (Writing the Character Driven Story and The Professional Fiction Writer: A Year in the Life) and the entire audio course, Writing Off Into the Dark. The value of those items is over $50. Not a bad deal for an $11 donation. (grin)

If you haven’t looked over the new patronage tiers, you can find them at

Toward the end of the day, I cycled through “The Rain Cart” and added 786 more words. I reached the end. The story came in at just over 2600 words, with an additional 648 words that will be used in the novel later.

Tomorrow I’ll find cover art, publish it and get it out to my patrons.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Said” at

See “Anthology Workshop Starts Writing…” at

See “TPW 109: Rob Eagar on Wildfire Marketing” at (podcast)

See “A Game Plan for How to Nail Your Next Reading” at

The Numbers

Fiction words today…………………… 786
Nonfiction words today…………… 850

Total fiction words for the month……… 6481
Total fiction words for the year………… 391574
Total nonfiction words for the month… 3080
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 284140
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 675714

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 7
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… 4
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 43
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 197
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

2 thoughts on “The Journal: On Efficiency and Establishing Habits”

  1. Alexander Pushkin is said that he never left his house without a book. So, during his short life (he died like Byron, being 37) he mastered most of European languages and Classical Latin. There’re 3 volumes of his finished works (he wrote poetry mostly) and about 12 volumes of his collected papers (drafts, letters, etc)

    I never leave my home without a book too.

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