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.