Monday, 29 February 2016

Happy Leap Year

With all my thoughts of improving productivity I was delighted to read an article in February’s Writing Magazine which just about summed up everything I’ve been trying to achieve recently.

But what I hadn’t thought about until I read the article was Leap Year.  Although I had registered somewhere at the back of my mind that this year we had an extra day, the implication of that hadn’t sunk in.

We’ve been given an extra day!  A day we wouldn’t normally have.  A gift to all us writers out there.  When I read it I thought knowing my luck it will fall on a working day, but it’s not, its a Monday.  And although I’ve arranged to meet an old friend for lunch, I’m determined to make the most of my gift for the rest of the day.

Happy Leap Year everyone.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

I Have A Plan

Before I went on holiday I was involved in a freelance project which encourages people to be more efficient / productive in their businesses.  The advice struck a chord because much of it could be easily related to becoming a more productive writer.

However, there is a fundamental difference.

If I’m doing freelance work I can quite legitimately turn round to my husband and say - I’ve got to type up a report by such and such a deadline so could you do the tea tonight, take the boys to football (fill in the gaps)?  And he will go off quite happily and get on with it because while he’s doing that, I’m working and earning money.

BUT, I don’t feel that I could sit down at my computer and say “could you do the tea tonight because I want to write?” Now, where is my backbone? Where are my priorities?  I ask myself those questions all the time.  But because I don’t yet earn enough money from my writing it’s viewed as an indulgence, a hobby - something that should be done in my leisure time.  Trouble is by the time I’ve got everything done that needs to be done, it always seems to be bedtime.

Now I can’t entirely blame my family for this because to large extent this is in my own head.  I see things that need to be done, that I feel only I can do, and so I push my writing aside.  

So part one of my plan is to stop doing this.  I need to prioritise my writing.

Whilst I was on holiday I read Kath McGurl’s “Give Up Ironing: A Writer’s Guide to Time Management.

This is an excellent book for anyone struggling with the problems I (probably we all) have.

Now, although the title in the book mentions giving up ironing, it is of course not as simple as this.  Personally, I don’t think I could give up ironing - not that I particularly enjoy it - but I do use it as guilt free time to catch up with any TV programmes I may have recorded.  But, also I think that not ironing and mastering the art of crease free clothes is a particular talent which has so far eluded me.  I do know people who don’t iron but it certainly doesn’t work for school uniforms.  I could always teach the boys to iron their own, but at the moment getting them to remove their clothes from the bedroom floor, all the way across a long, long landing to the laundry bin is a challenge, so I can see endless days of nagging and then having to do it myself at the last minute (glutton for punishment I know).

So, the ironing has to stay. But the real point is to prioritise your writing over something else. Even if I can’t guarantee payment surely I’m allowed 1 hour a day to do the things I want to do. I’ve decided to set a time each day when I will determined to have an hour free just to dedicate to my writing.  I’d love to be able to set the same hour each day but my days are so unpredictable that I don’t think that’s possible.  

I’m not a morning person so setting a goal to get up at silly o’clock is just not realistic as I know that I will just turn over and go back to sleep. So each day I’m going to set a writing time and be determined to stick to it.  

I think I’ve read somewhere that it takes 12 weeks to form a habit - which probably explains why I’ve never been able to achieve a successful exercise habit.  But maybe this year I will be able to achieve a good habit instead of developing bad ones.

Let’s see how it goes.

Friday, 26 February 2016

How Are Your Writing Resolutions Going?

So, its nearing the end of the second month of the year and I’ve decided to question how my New Year resolutions are progressing.

Not too well is the answer, despite a determination at the start of the year to be more productive.

In between Christmas and New Year I had a good trawl through my “catalogue” of stories which resulted in me re-submitting two previously submitted stories to other magazines.  I also edited a first draft of a story I wrote last year, sent it to my writer’s group, re-edited and sent it off. 

I also finished an assignment for an article writing course which has taken me nearly a year to do (oh the shame!) and sent it off.

Finally I researched agents to send my novel to (but not sent it off yet).

I suppose this could be considered to be a pretty productive month - especially as I spent quite a few evenings doing freelance work (in addition to my day job) and looking after family etc, but to be honest I was a bit disappointed that I hadn’t written anything new.

But that was January and February was even more disappointing. My new story was rejected, I still hadn’t written anything new and I hadn’t resubmitted any other stories either.  I did complete another assignment though, so I suppose that was something bearing in mind the length of time it took me to write the last one!

I have my excuses at the ready though - in the middle of February we went on holiday to Lanzarote - so shopping, packing and preparing for going away - even if only for a week - took up quite a bit of my time, especially as eldest son had grown out of everything and needed a new summer wardrobe.  Also his phone broke so I had to replace that at the last minute before going away - just when yet another trip into town is really not needed (the trials of being a mother).

The only good thing was that I sent some of my writing to my kindle so I was able to edit and expand of some of my ideas whilst I was away. I even wrote somethings new - drum role please.  And of course there was lots of lovely reading time (especially as it rained for two days solid) the first rain they have had there since October - would you please?

And now its back to the washing, ironing, cooking and cleaning and generally running around after everyone - but I have renewed my determination and even come up with a plan of how to create some more space in my life for my writing.  Watch this space!