process, writer's life, writing, writing advice

Where I’ve Been + What’s Next + Time Management Tips?

June MFA Residency

I had my first MFA residency in June and it was amazing.  Stressful at first, because I didn’t know anyone but everyone already knew each other it seemed, an my little introverted self was trying to look as small as possible without looking like I was trying to look as small as possible.  But by day 2 and with the start of classes, I was thrilled to find that I clicked with everyone in my cohort.

Residency was a week of fun activities–writing, discussing, debating the finer points of Harry Potter character arcs across the lunch table.  I didn’t want to leave; I wanted to hang out with these people forever.  I felt immediately and wholly supported in my work and that has been extremely comforting as I’ve started in on schoolwork.

Time Management

The biggest challenge of this Master’s program so far is time management.  Y’all.  I always rolled my eyes whenever this dorky “time management” thing came up in undergrad.  How hard could it possibly be to get everything done?  Seriously?

I should’ve listened.

In May, I started my job at a bookstore, and one of my courses started immediately after residency (end of June) so my first deadline was the end of July and between work and school, I was struggling.  

I struggled during July while I got my feet under me, and I struggled in August because my second course started, but finally, for this month, I managed to fine tune my time management system (*eye roll*) so that I’m getting things done in a timely manner.

That’s right.  The secret to my time management success?  Math.

For my reading class: I took the page count of every book I have to read for my reading class and gave myself 10 days to read each.  That’s page count / 10 = # of pages to read per day for 10 days.  That page count gets written into my daily log and highlighted yellow (for my reading class).  And when I get it done, I cross it off.  The daily page requirement is only between 35-60 pages depending on the book, and that’s so much more manageable than a vague “be done by this date.”

For my writing:  This was so much trickier, because my writing doesn’t like to get done consistently.  I didn’t want to set a weekly goal, because I’d tried that and it just…didn’t work.  So I told myself, “I can do a page a day.  That’s manageable.”  So in my daily log, I wrote “1/25,” “2/25,” etc.  It didn’t necessarily mean I had to write, but it gave me a rough estimate of where I’d like to be on that particular day going at the rate of one page per day.

This month it turned out okay.  I was still scrambling a little bit towards the end, but I still finished with time to spare instead of cramming right up until deadline.  It’s a process I’m going to repeat next month to see if it’s a viable method.  (Wow, that just happened.  I say “viable method” now?)

What’s Next

Right now, I’m in the last month of my writing course, but only second month of my reading course.  (It’s weird, I know.)  I have so. much. to do for my writing course final.  I’ve already made a list of everything I have to do for October (writing and reading) and broken each task down into smaller tasks.  Now it’s a matter of setting some smaller deadlines and sticking to the plan.

In terms of this blog, I want to share more about my writing life as I’m living it versus a recap every four months.  So I’m going to share weekly updates.  Also, since my writing course will be over at the end of October, I want to do some writing responses during November and December to keep my writing up.  Also, would you like me to do some Q&As?  I’m happy to answer any questions you have about writing or MFA programs!


Currently playing: Through Juniper Vale

Currently reading: The Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch

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