Lockdown affects us all differently. I’m amazed by the way some people are filling their time, whether it be learning a new language, doing some DIY or catching up with their reading.
For me, I’ve been able to make huge strides with a novel I’m currently working on. Who knows whether it’ll see the light of day in published format, but what the experience has emphasised for me is the importance of Maker time.
As creative people we make things. For most of us, this means written work, whether it be an article, short story, non-fiction book or a novel. Those pieces are only created if we make an effort to sit down and create them.
It’s easy to feel busy with our writing, without actually … writing. There’s research to be done, social media accounts and websites to update, payments to chase and … now we’ve slipped into the new tax year, last year’s financial paperwork to start gathering ready for the tax return.
That’s a lot of work. However, research doesn’t bring in any money. Nor does updating a website or our social media sites. Nor does gathering our paperwork to do the tax return. But that’s still working.
So, working and creating aren’t necessarily the same thing. Although, creating is working.
One of the many pieces of advice offered during the lockdown is to give your day some structure. Since the beginning of April, my mornings have been creative. I’ve been writing. Producing new words. Adding chapters the novel. Writing articles.
After lunch, I’ve then gone for my walk. (The Government didn’t have to tell me to go out everyday to do my exercise.)
When I’ve got back, I taken the opportunity to catch up with the morning’s emails, and then I’ve had another hour or so of writing. Finally, I’ve rounded my day off with an hour of emails and admin work, which includes some social media stuff.
So far this month I’ve written just over 40,000 words. It’s been a long while since I’ve been that productive (and clearly my part-time three-day-a-week job for the last three years has curtailed my ability to do that). But it’s not just because I’m back to full-time writing. A lot of it is down to my day’s structure.
It was Paul Graham who wrote an essay in July 2009 about the Maker’s Schedule and the Manager’s Schedule. It’s an interesting read, and highlights why meetings/interruptions can really ruin a day for creators. The longer period you can devote to Maker Time the better. If you do need to make an appointment, put it at the start or end of your day.
But what the essay highlights is the importance of Maker Time. If we allocate a part of our day for being creative (actually writing something), over time this produces a body of work. Our business is selling words. But we can only sell something, once we’ve written something. So for us, as writers, Maker Time is vital.
All the admin stuff, the research, the social media guff, the financial paperwork is all Manager Time in reality. It requires a different frame of mind - a different way of working.
If you’re trying to become more productive, think about your work. Are you being creative, and therefore in Maker Time or are you doing admin stuff, ie in Manager Time. The Manager Time stuff is important (the Government will chase you if you don’t fill out your tax return), but it’s not earning you any money. Before you start doing something ask yourself: is the Maker Time or Manager Time?
The more Maker Time you have during your day/week, the more opportunity you have to create something that could produce an income for you.
Try scheduling some Maker Time. Block it out in the diary. You’re making it a commitment then. And then commit to it. That means:
switching off all distractions (social media),
ignoring emails (you’ll deal with them later in the day),
having a plan in advance of what you’re going to write.
You don’t have to block out entire mornings, as I have. Think about what works best for you. You’re in the best position to know when is the best part of your day to designate as Maker Time.
But just remember that it’s Maker Time that can generate an income, whereas Manager Timetends not to be so financially rewarding.
Thinking of it like that may help you to determine whether you’re spending your time as wisely as you could be.