So here I am, blinking in the virtual sunlight, having achieved summer deadline number one, but have summer deadline number two staring me in the face already. And it’s only half way through the UK summer holidays, so I’m fifty per cent writer and fifty per cent full time child care slave. (Note: housewifely, domesticated, bin putter outer duties and similar have no percentage listed – more of this below).
As a relatively new author I’m learning how to deal with this time crunch lifestyle slowly and painfully and thought it might be useful to write a few tips down to remind myself how to do it all over again before the next deadly calendar page is turned. I also thought it might be useful to share with you, our lovely blog visitors, as you don’t have to be a writer to have deadlines. Demands, and sucks on, on our time are everywhere: overnight/weekend visitors, holidays, day jobs, school timetables, emergencies, illness and loads of other stuff, but you can make things easier on yourself. So here we go…
· Set your core writing time. In my case this is usually 0900 until 1430 as it fits in with the school day (which is way shorter than when I was at school, I swear). WRITE new words in this time.
· NO SOCIAL NETWORKING in core time unless you have reached your minimum daily word count target, my minimum is 1000 words. If I’m being very strict, no second cup of coffee until this target is reached either (this may not work for everybody).
Ditto: your blog roll
Ditto: Yahoo groups
Ditto: your website stats
Ditto: anything else you stalk …
· Resist the urge to read your beautifully composed and witty emails, tweets, Facebook posts, blogpost comments or shopping lists over and over and over again. Or maybe that’s just me …
· T-shirts turn out reasonably well if you dry them on hangers and kids don’t need ironed clothes (they won’t even notice). Office working breadwinners might need crisp cotton though, so invest in a decent iron and steam through the bare minimum required like the devil is nipping at your heels. Consider this daily exercise if necessary or outsource it to someone who enjoys it. Or pay someone to do it.
Ditto: all other domestic drudgery duties.
· Feed living things as a priority (children, pets, helpless partners etc), desiccated pot plants can be replaced.
· Parents: don’t beat yourself up about cutting corners – you’re probably doing the equivalent of two full time jobs in part time hours. There’s nothing wrong with takeout or ready meals now and again, just try to make them decent ones. Stocking the fruit bowl is easy, so is having fresh juice in the fridge. It’s not going to be like this forever (in theory). However do stop yourself from popping to the store for fresh bread (or favourite equivalent), because even though it should take just five minutes you’ll be there an hour. You will …
· If you drink alcohol make sure you have at least a week’s supply. Just knowing it’s there is hugely soothing. Again, maybe that’s just me. Ditto: chocolate and potato chips.
· A slow cooker/crockpot sounds like a good idea if your family will all eat the same meal and if you can actually find it. I was given one in 1996 and I’m pretty sure it’s around the place somewhere …
· A dishwasher. Lovely, wonderful things. If you haven’t got one already there’s no going back. I would combust without one (add dishwasher detergent to the one week’s supply list above).
And when you meet your deadline and the pressure is off? Take the greatest pleasure in scrubbing that neglected downstairs bathroom. Scour it thoroughly until it gleams and smells like a princess’s bridal bouquet … because you’ve earned it!
Okay, back to the revisions cellar I go. Have you any handy tips to add to my list? Or a dreamy hero suggestion for my next manuscript? All suggestions gratefully received. An Indian head massage sounds good actually, anyone had one of those? I wonder how long they take …