Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Procrastination versus discipline - harsh realities

Anyone can be an expert in the art of procrastination. 

Today I had a long and useful work conversation. I have substantial notes from it to correct and develop a piece. I've also fed both children, entertained the baby for a bit and explained various house rules yet again to my older son (6) - such as why it's not ok to stuff the pancake you don't like under your chair. I've put on the dishwasher. I've watched a bit of a program I recorded last night. I've dropped a few comments on other blogs (and have obviously been reading other blogs too.) Finally remembered I need breakfast too and cleaned out the microwave. It's not quite 12.30pm and I'm ill with the cold from hell. On the sofa sits my eeepc along with one sheet of paper on which is written the one paragraph I wrote yesterday.

Working from home lays me open to a great deal of temptation.  My house is not, and probably during my lifetime will never be, tidy, but there are always bits I can do. Obviously, the demands of the children are paramount, but the dishwasher would not have wept if I hadn't emptied it until after I've actually done some writing. But would if be different if I was at an office? I could hang around the water cooler, chat to colleagues and take long lunches... And I'd be fired.

As a writer I work for myself. This means I have to cultivate an inner boss, who will remind me when necessary that writing is a real job. It's not to be done between bouts of housework and any other duty I can drag up to be done because I-am-the-one-at-home. It's rather that all that stuff has to be done in-between my writing. It doesn't matter how much (or how little) I make from my writing. If I intend to succeed then I do have to write. (This may seem obvious, but a long time ago, when I was still an amateur,  I once belonged to a writing group where everyone said they were serious about making their writing career and over three months the only one who wrote anything was me. I suspect the other members still meet and talk about when they will write.) 

Today, with the average UK yearly income for a writer being £5,000 (sorry to disappoint), the majority of writers have second jobs. I'm lucky my second job is being a mother, but I will argue (and argue quite viciously) that it's at least as demanding, if not more so, than most other occupations. (You also cannot leave your children at the office - and no matter how very, very much you love them, - there will always be moments when you wish you could.) So if you want to be a writer, amateur, professional or best selling, you need to carve out your time for writing, and when you are in those hours of the day, unless there is a real crisis (and weeping dishwashers don't count) then you will write, plot, or in some concrete way move forward your writing career.

1 comment:

fiona glass said...

Very true. But I suppose the main advantage of having a job as a writer is that you don't have to do anything physical to be working. You can do some of that plotting, day-dreaming and so on in your head, even while you're dealing with the kids or the dishwasher or the dog or whatever. :)