At the Golden Kite luncheon at the 40th Annual SCBWI summer conference earlier this month, I sat next to Susan Hull, who told me she has retired in order to work on illustrating and writing. I asked her to contribute advice, and here it is!
Not. Time must be fiercely protected or it trickles away. I find it necessary to command myself to utter the magic words, “Thank you for thinking of me. No, I cannot do it.”
Keeping focused is the greater issue because it requires huge self-discipline.
I settle down to work, when I see I don’t have a piece of information that is in my cell phone. I go to fetch my phone, pass the fish tank, and realize it is in need of cleaning. I go to the garage to get a fresh bottle of water and decide to put in a load of wash. I return to my computer and realize that I neglected to pick up my phone with the information I need. I retrace my steps, retrieve the phone, go back to the garage, bring the water back for the fish tank, transfer the wash to the dryer, and finally return to the computer.
I have learned a few methods for completing my creative tasks.
1. As I lie in bed, I prioritize my projects. I choose one and promise myself I will do it as soon as I get up.
2. I visualize how I am to accomplish the job, what tools/materials I will need and where I can work.
3. I start early. As soon as I am through with my shower, I get to my first task and steadily work until the inevitable distractions begin. On the rare occasions when I finish that task without interruption, I immediately begin my next priority.
4. I keep a mental list of everything I must do, when each is due, and how much aggravation I will feel if I miss the deadline. At the end of the day, I line up my workspace for the most pressing project.
5. I allow empty slots of time in the middle of the day for the unexpected fun things that life has to offer.
6. I forgive myself if I don’t meet my daily goal.
7. I try to accept only projects I will enjoy.
And then, I enjoy them.
I love retirement!