That Time of Year

Maybe it's just me, but, this time of year is always a bit of a nightmare. San Diego ends up spurring on a slew of "Wow, I thought that would never happen" projects and it becomes a mad dash to get everything done and turned in while the 'iron is hot' except that there's Chicago and Gencon and all of that non-sense that allows editors to remove their shackles and actually see sunshine, albeit only while being transported in cages from unmarked 18 wheelers to the inner sanctum of their corporate booths.*

For me, this is the first year where I actually have more paid more work than I can deal with**, so finding time to deal with all the speculative stuff becomes harder and harder, although every bit as important, because speculative work today equals money in my pocket later. In theory. The other rub for me is that I'm obsessed with being 'on time' for stuff. When I tell someone "You'll have it by Friday" they have it by Friday.***

So, my question to the compatriots here is how do you deal with it?

I've been working 20 hours a day, staying off of messenger, and answering e-mail in bulk chunks at the end of the day, rather than piece meal throughout. That being said, I'm finding that just keeping up correspondence and keeping all the balls in the air is still a challenge (that pesky day job thing hurts too.)

Anyhoot, just thought we could get some dialogue going about prioritizing and meeting deadlines. And, no, Tony, methamphetamines are not the answer.****

* Josh is not implying that all editors are dirty smelly animals. Only Jason Rodriguez.
* *Oh boo-fucking-hoo, poor Joshie-boy's got more work than he can handle. Cry me a river, fatboy.
*** Unless it's Kody and it's that script I still haven't read. Sorry, dude.'
**** Josh by no means advocates Tony Lee Brand Methamphetamines. I've always been more of a Squeemex Brand kinda guy.


Tony Lee said...

First off? Sleep. The four hours a day you're doing? Might give you more hours to work, but I'll bet you lose about four hours in slowness, sluggishness, etc.

So 8 hours. Sleep.

Secondly - cheat. I do loads more than I used to because I use Final Draft. It's faster than word because it's user friendly, and you don't have to keep typing out names - which to be honest is a large chunk of the time. Find something that eases your load. Finaldraft, Macros in word - anything that can shave the seconds.

Thirdly - Eat. Take time to stop, even if it's for half an hour to have lunch. Working at the PC doesn't give you recharge time. Go make a sandwich. Watch an episode of something that inspires you, and is related to what you're writing. You'll come back ready to work.

Fourthly - Is that even a word? Anyway, deadlines are deadlines - but some are more 'elastic'. If you can delay a friday night deadline to first thing Monday am? Do it. That gives you two more days, days you can prioritise other things.

Fifthly - Prioritise and split. I once read Stephen King talk how he did something like 4000 words a day and then that was it. He'd go play ball or something. He knew that 4000 words a day would get him where he needed to be when he needed to be there. Some days that would take eight hours. Others, only two.

As a person with multiple projects, you have to learn to do this. Don't do all the project in one go and then move to the next, bounce from one to another. Do a chapter of one, then say five pages of the next, and so on. Split it into days. If you find you finish early, great - feel free to return to one and get yourself ahead of the game.

The best way I can explain it is from a Sales guy I met once. He told me a story.

Two sales guys on the first of Jan were given 120,000 dollar targets for the next year. Salesman A went 'easy'. Salesman B went 'That's 10,000 a month.'

For the first three months, they hit target, but they sold nothing for the next three, at six months, they still had 90,000 to go for six months.

Salesman A ignored the money he had, and went 'shit, 90,000? It can't be done!'

Salesman B went 'Well, I have 30,000, and six months of 10,000 to get. I need an extra 30,000, so I'll just do 15,000 instead.

His goals were managed easily in his mind - for he saw monthly jumps of 15,000 rather than one godalmighty jump of 90,000.

Don't make the jump, split it into managable steps.

Does that help?

Fialkov said...

It does. The Sleep thing is almost a non-issue at this point, because I've become programmed to function at nigh-peak efficiency on 4 hours of sleep for about a month at a time. I'm just coming up on month 2 like that. ;)

I like the Final Draft tip, I use it for my screenwriting, but just sort of got used to comic-ing in Word. Might be worth the switch.

Bottom line. Tony Lee is the man.

Jason said...

Tony Lee is the man.

I'm the one who smells.