January 09, 2016

Like a Hamster on the Wheel - Shirley S. Tye

Running, running; the wheel is spinning ninety miles per hour.  But I’m not going anywhere.  How can I hone my writing craft when I’m answering calls of help?  No, I’m not blowing my own horn; just stating a fact.  The fact is that I’m not focused on what is important to me.  I drop my work to dash off to help someone whether it is urgent or not.  I say ‘yes’ to things before I gather all the facts only to discover later I’ve committed myself to a larger job than I imaged.  Then I’m desperately squeezing more time out of a fantasy bottle while people think I’m idly sitting, twiddling my thumbs just waiting to be called.   

Solutions:  1) Set a schedule with time for writing and helping others.  2)  Use my office which is in a quiet corner of the building for writing when I don’t have clients.  3) Choose one day, the same day every week to do the church’s bookkeeping (volunteer job). This last one I put into practice last month; now I’m waiting for people to catch onto this novel idea.   

Note to self; not everything is an emergency.  Assess the situation/need and my schedule before jumping into action. 

Wow!  What a great proposal!  And so simple!  Right?  Wrong. This plan doesn’t address my lack of focus.  What will keep my focus on writing; completing the romance novel I started I don’t know how many years ago; editing my children’s book; blogging; and just practicing and playing with words?  Deadlines always work for me.  But there are no deadlines to finish my novels.  Who cares if they ever get published? They’re just pieces of fiction which will not influence anyone or change anyone’s life.  But yet, I don’t want to scrap them.  I do want to finish writing them. 

Some people reward themselves when they finish a project or accomplish something new and challenging.  A reward system won’t work for me unless that reward is offered by someone other than me.  And it better be a reward for which I’d happily struggle to obtain. 

This is my New Year’s challenge; to discover a way to focus on my writing so that I can finish the two dust collecting manuscripts on my desk.  I need a purpose; a good reason to complete those projects.  How do you stay with your projects to the finish line when there isn’t one? This little old hamster is getting weary on the spinning wheel. Pant.  Gasp.  Wheeze.    


  1. Best of luck to you in the new year, Shirley! Having a scheduled day for volunteer work is essential. I have found that if I don't do so, people will expect me to jump at any hour, any time. Not that we don't want to be willing to serve, but putting a time frame on work that is NOT urgent, as you so well pointed out, is just sensible.

  2. Not everything is an emergency. How true that is! And it's okay if I stay working at my computer while the person who actually LOST their keys, searches for them all by themselves. Hahaha :)

  3. Yes, the tyranny of the urgent can bog us down. A good reminder for me too. Oh little hamster--you can do it!

  4. I can empathize with you, Shirley, because I have been there and felt like I was being pulled in too many directions. This still happens to me, but maybe not as much. I have tried using 25-minute focus sessions a number of times and it has helped me. To find out more about this, google "25-minute focus sessions". Here is one good explanation: "Productivity 101: A Primer to the Pomodoro Technique." (Pomodoro is a timer.)

  5. I so can relate. And I love your statement about how not everything is an emergency. That is a big hurdle to cross and then it's called 'pacing'. Good thoughts and vulnerability in sharing!

  6. I can connect with the hamster, and the ongoing argumentative dialogue in your head. It can be wearisome, but it is nice to know others face these same dilemmas, and offer suggestions all of us can relate to. Thanks for sharing!


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