I think of myself as a writer, so I am always amazed how much of being a writer involves things other than writing. I generally prefer the writing; I was feeling out of sorts Tuesday, and I blame it on doing very little writing. In the interest of batching, I had shoved most of my writing to Wednesday. I did a lot of writing today. But days like today also remind me that I have mental limits. I have techniques to stretch these limits. But I can only write so much.
The limit is definitely under 8 hours. Today I wrote from 9 a.m. to noon, and then took a break (for lunch, and calling the pediatrician about the baby and his wretched, pathetic-sounding cough). I wrote from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., did a quick phone call, then wrote from 2:15 – 3. In these 4.75 hours I wrote 3 articles (about 750-1000 words a pop) plus my newsletter. After that I was pretty much shot. I mustered my energy to go run on the treadmill. I ran a very fast (for me) 2 miles, including one 8 minute mile. There were various kid things to deal with after that. These breaks gave me a bit more energy, and I am writing this now, but it is short. Any other work time will be devoted to light edits, email, and reading a book I need to read for Friday.
So I am probably at 5 hours of writing on a good, focused day. I have done more. While cranking out the drafts of my books I have often just tried to get everything down. But 5-ish hours is probably the limit for a normal day.
What is your work limit for the core production tasks of your job? Do you have techniques to stretch this?
In other news: Live in Philly? I will be on a panel at the downtown library on Wednesday, March 9th in the evening. We will be talking about disrupting the patriarchy.
If you are going to SXSW, you can see me there too! I will be speaking at the Marriott on Monday March 14th at 9:30 a.m. on What Successful People Do Before Breakfast. I will be signing books after at the convention center (the conference book store).