Keeping Constructively Busy

I realized that if I didn’t sit down and write a blog post right this very second, odds were I wouldn’t write one at all for this week. Which would be bad (in my own mind, since it’s not like many people read this) since I didn’t write one last weekend, amid excitement over seeing my name printed with the other Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Award shout-outs, getting caught up on various work items, and that whole Easter Weekend thing.

The thing about being busy is that it’s only useful if the busyness is also constructive. When you’re constructively busy, time tends to fly but you can sit back at the end of the week, go over everything you did, and ideally see the beneficial impact of the time you spent. This is incredibly important in teaching; from when I get to the school at 7:30 a.m. to when I leave sometime after 2:30 p.m., I’m on the entire time and handling a dozen little things involving different students and aspects of the school, but it’s all worth it if I can leave Friday afternoon and know that I actually made a difference. Or in the case of this past week, leave at about 10:30 p.m. on Friday, having stuck around to see the school musical (which was friggin awesome, by the way. Kudos to the Merivale drama and music department!). Of course, being busy like that leads to days like yesterday (Saturday) where I did a little bit of administrative stuff for my writing and a couple chores, and sweet crap all for the rest of the day besides a long walk – but I earned that, dammit. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

Being constructively busy in writing is just as important, even if the tangible benefits are a little harder to track. I submitted my novel Convoy to some more markets, which is an accomplishment because just one of them might be interested, but it could easily turn out that no one is interested and I’ve wasted my time. Little things like organizing my files or research isn’t exactly new words written, but they’re meant to feed my productivity later. The same is true for spending a few minutes on social media each day, making sure that my voice is out there as I spread the word about TEGG, Can-Con, Black Gate and my own IP. (See how I worked it in there just now? Mission accomplished.)

How does one make sure they’re constructively busy? I try to have a plan, particularly when I’m facing a week where I know I won’t have a lot of spare time. This week coming up, for example, here’s what I have on top of my normal school day: two afternoons supervising girl’s soccer, a staff meeting, final exams for my Algonquin College students (and then calculating their final grades), Oscars night one evening (which I can’t miss, cuz it’s going to be awesome), at least one admin Skype chat for TEGG but possibly three, a soccer game to supervise one other afternoon (shit, I just remembered) and a friend’s birthday dinner (which will also be fun). Admittedly, my week isn’t normally that insane, but when it is I need to think very carefully about where I’ll be able to commit time to getting some words written, and also make sure that I take time to relax so I don’t crash somewhere between the soccer game and Oscars.

In the end, it’s probably all about attitude. Like a certain writer friend of mine who shall remain nameless, I think I thrive a bit on juggling multiple balls (wipe the smirk off your face) because I’m actually at my most relaxed when I don’t have too much time spent sitting and wondering what I should do (I didn’t have my mind in the gutter, you did). I could’ve spent the last ten minutes doing exactly that, but thankfully I had this blog post to write, so that’s ten minutes well spent.

Now I can twiddle my thumbs for a bit.


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