By Ruth Barringham
Every day I start out with great intentions.
The night before I plan out what writing I’m going to be doing and write it in my diary.
Some days it goes to plan.
But more often than not, my whole day goes awry right from the start and I get hardly any writing done and I sit there scratching my head and wondering “where did all my writing time go?”
You see it usually goes something like this:
I get up at 6am, get dressed, have breakfast and do the dishes. This usually takes till 7.30.
Then I put a load of washing in the washing machine and go and see to the chickens (we have 10 ex-battery chickens in a large run at the bottom of the garden).
Now it’s 8am and time to get to work.
But first I need to wipe around the bathroom and do a quick vacuum around the house (dog hairs are a constant problem amongst other things).
Now it’s 8.30 and time to write.
I get out my computer and my writing pads and pencil case and I look through my diary for that day
Damn! I just remembered the washing in the machine. It must have finished by now. So I hang it out and put another load on.
Oh yeah. I also need to put the bread machine on to make dough because I want to make burgers for dinner and we’ve run out of seeded rolls.
So I put the ingredients in the bread machine and set it to the dough program. There, that will beep in 1 hour and 30 minutes and then I can shape the dough into rolls and leave them to rise.
Now it’s 9.30. Sh*t! I’ve lost half the morning.
I look in my diary and see that I should have written my first article at 8am. Now I’m way behind schedule.
But I still haven’t checked my emails. So I do that first.
So many emails and a few spam messages. I report the spam, look through all my emails, read some, delete some and reply to one or two.
“Coffee?” That’s my husband. It’s after 10.30 and he wants to have a break.
We make a pot of coffee and sit down together. He tells me what he’s been working on this morning and I tell him what I’ve been doing (or not doing). We discuss a few other things too.
Beep! That’s the bread machine. It’s now 11am and I have to shape the rolls.
After that I sit down once again.
Oh no! The washing. I forgot it again. I hang it out, wipe out the machine, turn off the taps and go back to my desk.
I open my computer and check my emails again. A few more have come through. I deal with them and then check my RSS feeds. Quite a few articles there.
I glance through them all and read a few. Not all are writing related. Some are self-help, some are recipes. There is a good recipe amongst them. I print it off and leave it on the kitchen counter to have a good look at later.
I outline and begin my first article. I write by hand. All my work is hand written to start with. I never go straight to keyboard.
I’m halfway through writing it. “Shall we have lunch?” I look at the clock and it’s 12.45pm and my husband is hungry. “Yeah, put something on.”
Twenty minutes later lunch is ready and the first draft of my article is written.
We eat and discuss our work. We wash and dry the dishes from coffee and from lunch.
I sit down again. It’s 1.30. I type up my article and outline and write another by hand, then proof and edit the first one and type the second one.
I try to upload them. But it doesn’t work. I check with my hosting company. Seems they’re having server issues. So I go through my to-do list and start work on another writing project. Then I check website again. It’s all back online so I upload my two articles.
“Shall we take the dogs out?” I look up at the clock. It’s 4pm.
How did it get so late? Where did my day go?
Oh no! I’ve forgotten the bread rolls.
I put the rolls in the oven, let the chickens out, and we walk the dogs.
When we get back I take the rolls out of the oven, make bean burgers, fry some onions, close up the chicken run (they all went home to roost as soon as it got dark), take in the washing and fold it and then we have dinner and do the dishes.
I go for a shower, pack away my computer and write in my diary what I’ll be working on the next day.
Now it’s 7.30pm.
And I’m still wondering where all my time went.
Does this happen to you?
I read all the time about people who only have a couple of hours a day to write and they are super productive.
But others who have all day to write get less done.
I try and stop this from happening by being really organised and having a dedicated writing place so that when I sit there I have my “work” head on so that I can focus more.
I also minimise distractions by not allowing others to talk to me while I’m writing (I’ve been training the family for years) and I have two days a week when I don’t write and do other things instead like gardening, ironing and batch cooking.
You see, being a writer is about much more than being able to sit down and write every day.
It’s about being organised, being disciplined and above all being focused enough so that you can forget about everything else while you write.
You won’t get much writing done if you don’t organise your time (including non-writing time) and being as productive as possible while you work, even if it means leaving home to write somewhere else, which is what I do when all else fails.