Friday, July 1, 2011


 It's our pleasure to welcome Joan Maze to our blog. Joan is an author of cozy mysteries and romantic suspense. We hope you enjoy her article and will leave a comment after you finish reading it.-Ruby Johnson

By Joan Maze
I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m wearing too many hats. It doesn’t matter what season it is; spring, summer, fall, winter. The number is staggering.

Back when I was younger, I loved prowling around in Carson Pirie Scott and Marshall Field’s in Chicago, looking at the many hats they offered and occasionally finding one I could afford. I’d wear it proudly—but only one at a time.

Now, I’m  not talking about real hats here, but of the practice of occupying myself with many and varied tasks, often too many to keep track of or to accomplish in the time I’ve given myself. I fall behind, stress out and worry that I might miss an important deadline. This not only includes various RWA groups, but other activities as well. One time, while at the library, I had the most awful feeling I’d forgotten a volunteer appointment I had. I hadn’t, but it taught me a lesson.

Since I joined RWA almost six years ago, I’ve added many chapters and groups to my list, and I love them all. I actually belong to five critique groups, though I’ll admit I don’t frequent all of them to the same degree. Add to that classes, the judging I commenced two years ago, along with the book reviews I now do for an online site,  and you’ve got what has to be three full-time jobs—with no time for housecleaning (sob).

And I couldn’t forget the jobs of new writing, revising and, last but not least (at least it isn’t supposed to be) promotion and marketing.

Somewhere around three-four months ago I decided I needed to do something about this. But what? The idea of giving up any one of these was absolutely repugnant to me. So, I prioritized. First, I started a new document, which listed everything I do. Next, I made a 7-day calendar, assigning tasks to each day and it actually turned into eight.

.It didn’t work. I hadn’t allowed even one hour for sleep.
Giving up any one of these would be tantamount to giving up one of my limbs. Which one do I pick? Answer: None.

This reminds me of the time when I was a music student at Northwestern University. I worked full time, went to school full time, took piano lessons on the side, and then made up my mind to learn the organ. I signed up for lessons with my piano teacher, received permission to use the organ at church for practice, and proceeded to begin lessons. But there was one thing I hadn’t factored in. The organist was upwards of 6’3” or more, I didn’t know how to adjust the bench without ruining it and, used it the way I was. Since I was 5’ at the time (I’ve shrunk since), every time I reached for the foot pedals, I fell off the darn bench. So much for that. I was forced to reduce my schedule.

Back to my scheduling problem. I finally came up with a temporary solution. That of making a list on a 3x5 card each morning and performing each task, checking them off when done. There are times when it takes two days to do one day’s work, but, somehow or other, I do finish. But I don’t think this is good enough.

While I believe most posts suggest solutions for whatever problem they’re writing about, other than what I’m doing now, I have none. Therefore, I’m putting the question out here. How in tarnation can I solve this problem without giving anything up? Do any of you have similar problems?  Put your red hat on and tell me.

While pondering this problem, how about taking a look at my website
 I’ve got three books published, Murder By Mistake, Murder For Kicks, and Framed In Fear. The first two are part of a comedy mystery series, while the third is a romantic suspense.
 You can purchase Murder By Mistake, Murder For Kicks and Framed in Fear at the following  –

Murder By Mistake -

Friend me on:
Facebook: Joan K. Maze
Follow me on:Twitter: Jazzyartwriter


Anonymous said...

Girl, it sounds like you have a problem of overcommitment. Choose which of these things means the most and let some of them go. You might be getting them all done, but are you enjoying the stress?

Ruby Johnson said...

For a year I worked three jobs. I would take 24hr. call in one hospital, leave the next day and go to another, take call, and then the next day work an eight hour shift in another. One day I woke up and had misplaced my pocket calendar. I didn't know where I was supposed to be! I cut out one of the jobs immediately and eventually two of them. I realized I was doing nothing but working, and totally missing everything I loved-my family, my writing and just enjoying myself.
Try to learn to say no. If people find you will say yes they automatically place you committees.
Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Karen Kelly, a prolific writer, said at a meeting, she uses tight time management techniques,writes from 730-1230,eats lunch, then spends an hour on marketing and answering email. Then she's right back at it until 5pm. Then she spends the evening with her husband. She doesn't serve on a bunch of committees, but does attend her RWA group on monthly basis. Things could be different now. I heard her a couple of years ago.

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