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  • Kim

Writing (and Planning) with RATS

I always schedule RATS in my week. At least twice a week, I figure I’m going to have to deal with them: Random, Annoying Tasks: R.A.T.s.

A rat looking untidy after being washed.
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R.A.T.s are totally unexpected tasks that simply Must. Get. Done. Today. Right Now! Too bad about your writing and the fact that you were working toward a very time-sensitive deadline. Do it now, or the world will blow up!

Sometimes they’re more like R.A.E.s —Random Annoying Events, such as a flat tire. Someone is sick and you need to pick up a prescription for them. A deadline changes—it’s sooner than before.

Everyone has their own writing schedule, or should. I know my most productive time for anything is between 9 and 11 A.M. I try not to answer the phone or email, unless it’s pertinent to what I’m doing. I try really hard to protect that time.

Oh, but along come those R.A.T.s. Sometimes you have to do something before you can do something else, you know what I mean?

There’s the doctor I like who only takes morning appointments, when I write best. The husband who forgot to mail out an important check, and wants me to overnight it somewhere. The car that’s been running on fumes since yesterday, but I have to run an errand . . .

I picture myself (cringing) looking a lot like Gollum of The Lord of the Rings, hunched over my precious writing time. “Not my preciousssss! Never the precious writing time. Can’t have . . .”

There are big R.A.T.s, too—the kind that don’t fit into a week, but into a month or even a year (looking at you, Corona virus!). That’s one big R.A.E.

So I just plan ’em into my schedule. They don’t always arrive on time, of course, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not ready for them when they do. It makes me calmer to say, “Oh yeah, there’s that R.A.T. I can handle it. I was expecting it.” It’s no less aggravating, but at least it doesn’t throw my schedule off too much.

And there’s never enough time for writing.

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תגובה אחת

Love this concept and the name for it!

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