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David M. Hoenig
If you’d asked me this when I was younger, I’d have said “Shapeshifting”, without a moment’s hesitation for reflection. I mean, who wouldn’t want the powers of Chameleon Boy, or Mystique? The ability to become anything or anyone, to literally embody the hero of every espionage story, the chance to try new things? I, for one, would never be budged from this perspective.
Until I grew up. In the words of Inigo Montoya, it’s been (more than) twenty years, and I’m starting to lose confidence, at least in terms of those fantastical terms. On the other hand, there is a superpower, it is possible to cultivate, and I know it’s true because I’ve got it.
Behold my glorious, best heroic self---Captain Time-Management!
Think about it for a moment (but only a moment; we all have things to do!). What is the most valuable commodity? What should the virgins make the most of? What flies when you’re having fun?
Okay, diamonds, self-esteem, and kites, respectively, all might work, but the answer, of course, is time. We can control what we do, how long we spend doing or mastering it, but ultimately every endeavor in our lives competes with every other thing we invest ourselves into--family, self-care, work, play--for time.
Finding time to write within the maelstrom of modern life for most of us can be a juggling act of epic proportions. (We’re talking flying chainsaws here.) Hence my contention that time management is, indeed a desirable superpower.
Maximize what you can do in the time you have for it. If you’re more creative, focused, awake, make use of that particular time of day by setting it aside and protecting it. As a writer, make time to write, but make the most of non-writing time to contribute to that writing time’s efficiency:
I tend to solve plot conundrums when time and creativity allow, like when I’m exercising, or on a long drive. When I return to the computer, I’ve already got the answers to make the most of the writing time.
When I get stuck, I move on to something else worth doing, rather than wasting my ‘writing time’ being unproductive. My mind is free to roam when I’m doing the dishes, or folding laundry, or commuting to work.
Talk about ideas with someone whose opinions you value: a friend, a loved one, fellow writers, and use that feedback when you sit back down to plunk words onto paper or the computer.
Remember that there are a lot of strategies to make the most of the time we have available, and a lot of ways to get the job done. And while time-management skills may not be the sexiest hero's backstory, it beats the crap out of radiation exposure, spider bites, and lost artifacts of power.