Vicki's Book News and Articles

Tracking Time on Highway 85

Written by Vicki Hinze

On March 1, 2005

Why is it that we have so many more conveniences now, and rather than having more time for a life outside of work, we seem to have less?

My daughter, whom I swear was born old, says it’s because we take on more obligations. We give ourselves shorter periods of time to accomplish tasks, and that gives us space to add more tasks.

I think she’s right, but please don’t tell her.

She made me think. My life is good, very rich and fulfilling, and I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for the privilege of having a lot of different irons in different fires. Life stays interesting, rewarding–until something comes up like did with me this past January.

I got the flu. I got a sinus infection and had chipmunk cheeks. Before I got over that, I had a relapse of flu. And then, a second round of sinus stuff and chipmunk cheeks, for which I went to the doc and–you got it–received my third round of flu. The bottom line is I felt like crud for over a month and lost a lot of time on my schedule. Like everyone else, I couldn’t not work, so I did what I could, but my ability to juggle was–shall we be polite and say–diminished.

The obligations and blocks of time already committed to this or that project required shifting. So I shifted what I could, and did as much as possible to stay on speed. (Note for those who hate messed up schedules as much as I do: it is possible to write in almost any position, save paying homage to porcelain. The good news is, now that I’m well, I can’t tell which portions I wrote when sick. I found that amazingly gratifying.

The point I’m talking around and not making due to being easily distracted is this: when you work, track your time and your progress. This way, you’ll quickly note how long it takes to work a project. That is incredibly important information when it comes time to scheduling multiple books.

You see, when we schedule, we tend to think in terms of only writing. I have no idea why. But there are many other things for which you must allow time. Reviewing copyedits–guaranteed to come when least expected or most jammed against tight deadlines. Galleys will arrive, too. And those must be reviewed, edited, and returned within days. These seem to always have a very short suspense. And then there’s all the other things you do: email, snail mail, promotional planning, conference lecturing–and preparation time for these lectures, seminars, workshops–and normal office management work.

It’s important too to remember to read, study the market, and take care of professional association obligations.

And in your spare time, there’s a thing called life.

My husband is an artist and he had s show this weekend. I worked all weekend, too, on copyedits that had to be done and back in New York within days. On Saturday, we were blessed with a new granddaughter, which of course makes you sappy and sentimental in ways others not having that experience find, er, less than refreshing. (How’s that for diplomacy!)

But if one looks at all of this constructively, it has benefits. I scheduled breaks. Time to snitch my oldest granddaughter, steal away and do something fun. (She’s not quite 2 and shops like a pro!) Time to spend with my daughter, who works so hard and is always trying to juggle a dozen things. And I was so glad I’d learned a valuable lesson from my mother early on.

Family members, people who are important to you, are the jewels in your life, and they deserve more than whatever is left of you when you’re done doing all you do.

She was a sharp cookie, wasn’t she? Sure, we have to be reasonable and realistic–of course, we do. But we don’t have to be exclusive and give those we most love the least of us.

To that end, my husband and I visited our new granddaughter, and we went for a long ride through the country. It was warm, sunny, and gorgeous outside–the perfect day for this. I wasn’t thinking about work, we weren’t discussing work–but I got the coolest idea for a proposal I’m working on right now. It’s fabulous!

I guess that’s a perk of taking a break. All the subconscious stuff that’s been whirling around in your mind has a chance to crawl through the clutter and finally get your attention.

So here’s the deal that’s working well for me (and I hope will for you, too):

1. Track how much time you invest in a project so you know how much time to allot for future projects.

2. When you’re scheduling your deadlines, allow yourself a reasonable pad. You never know when a “January” (like mine) is going to land in your lap, when the kids or the folks or whatever comes up in life.

3. Schedule in breaks for yourself–play time, down time, READING time, research time, writing new proposals time. If you don’t schedule these things, then you’re going to do something else, take on yet another project or workshop or conference, and then you’ll be functioning just a shade shy of crisis. So pull out the calendar and write these things down. Add other normal, typical tasks you do, too.

4. Love the writing with all your heart, soul and mind. But be careful not to choose it over a chance to hug your kids, kiss your spouse, or play with the grans. The writing will be richer for it. You will be more content and fulfilled and richer for it. And your family, knowing that even as much as you love writing you love them most, will be richer for it.

That’s a heart treasure, and those are priceless—far more valuable than an extra couple pages or even an extra couple ISBNs.

Because I’d scheduled reasonably well, the only casualty of the January war was that I didn’t get my February personal newsletter done. When I look at my task sheets, it was most expendable. And I have to say, when I read through all I’d managed to still do, I was really pleased—and surprised.

My new secondary mantra—after “Trust is earned, one book at a time”:

Schedule, schedule, schedule. Realistically schedule. You are mortal schedule.

Mmm… I’m still having trouble with the “Can I add one more thing there” schedule. But, I’m working on it!

Now I end a lovely rejuvenating day to work on Income Tax, which I didn’t dare face without it. I wonder if the CPA would consider the mileage today a legitimate deduction…

This is an Edit-Free Zone.
Vicki Hinze

Note: I edit books and professional correspondence. But I do NOT edit email or this blog. This is chat time for me, so if the grammar is goofed or a word’s spelled wrong, please just breeze on past it. I’d appreciate it–and salute you with my coffee cup. 🙂

“Trust is earned, one book at a time.”
–Vicki Hinze

You are permitted to use the blog post above in its entirety, free of charge, provided you include the following text:
Copyright 2005. VickiHinze (, is a multi-published author, who has a free library of her articles on writing–the craft, business and life.


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