A Need for Structure

Here’s one thing I learned while I was on vacation last week.  I need structure. 

I mean, I kind of knew it before, but I’ve been trying to deny it.  I want to believe that I’m footloose and fancy free. That I’m bohemian. That the only thing keeping me from writing a novel a week is the fact that I have to work to pay bills and keep the indoor plumbing, but if I just had the tiiiimmmmeeee… 

The problem is, when I’m just hanging around the house all day and have all the time in the world, I just don’t seem to get much done. 

When I’m at the day job, I’m pretty productive. I have a structure. I need to be here or there at a certain time. I have to perform this or that task. When I’m at work, my entire day is structured by various expectations.  When I come home, there are tasks that must be performed in a set amount of time. 

But when I have free, unstructured time, whether during the week or when I’m on vacation, I tend not do anything productive at all.  I find myself staring at the computer screen or skimming through Facebook or Twitter.  I get distracted by the internet or tv. And then I rouse myself to find that my precious hour or two has gone and I’ve accomplished nothing worthwhile.  Since I am trying to be a productive and prolific writer, this is a problem.

But last week I actually did get some writing done.  This was mostly because I had set certain daily goals and wrote about them in my blog.  And because I’d put the goals out there, I had some incentive to try to meet them. I had created expectations and the desire to meet those expectations gave structure to my day.  Hence, I was productive.

My takeaway from all of this is that I’m going to need to come up with a structure, a business plan if you will, for my free time.  The challenge I issued to myself is a good foundation, but it will have to continue beyond the end of June and become a discipline. Then the discipline can give me a foundation for the productive use of my free time.  If my free time is used efficiently, I’ll actually be able to move forward and go anywhere I want to go.

Otherwise I’ll just be looking for the next bag of chips, brushing the salt off the corners of my mouth while I play video games in my underwear. Not that I do that. Um….no.


  1. If you’d like, I could arrange to stand behind you with a fireman’s hose and if you don’t achieve the negotiated word count for the day, I blast you with an ungodly stream of water as motivation.

    …just trying to help.

  2. Margie Shepherd says

    I had once heard that if you do something for 21 days, it becomes a habit. 21 days is do-able…yes? Baby steps. Concentrate on one month at a time, or one week, or one day. Sit down and write for 10 minutes/1/2 hour each day with a goal for doing this for 21 days. It will become a habit. You’re doing it now! It will grow and all of a sudden you will be doing it full time!! I know you can.

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