I’ve just had one of those days. Actually, I’ve been greedy and had two of them. You know, when you make a nice plan about how you want your day structured for maximum efficiency and less stress? Or is that just me? Anyway, most days I set myself little goals, divide the hours up between writing, other work and housework in order to be as productive as possible (it’s OK – I’m a Virgo*, it goes with the territory!). And then along comes an ‘incident’ and everything, from then on, goes tits up.
It doesn’t take much in my case. I’m not one of those wonderful people who can write anywhere, at any time, even when a big distraction, wearing a big purple hat, red nose, pink gaiters and yellow hob nail boots dances on the table in front of them. No, I’m not one of those people at all. I need peace and quiet and preferably a good run of it in order to properly compose my mind into a writing state. This, of course, does not bode well when one has a teenage daughter, an ageing dog and a house that is falling apart.
Actually, many writers are in the same position, juggling the demands of work, family and other priorities along with trying to create something that, hopefully, many will want to read. There are some authors in the enviable position of not having to do much else but write but these are usually already successful (and have given up the day job) and, in 99% of cases have already been through the manic juggling stage without (a) giving up, or (b) becoming a gibbering wreck living under the dining room table with a bottle of Scotch for company. Some of them (and I’m thinking of the admirable J.K. Rowling here) are one of those wonderful types who can work anywhere and at any time, and therefore manage to persevere through all kinds of chaos.
For the rest of us, it’s a case of just gritting teeth and carrying on. I just had two days of clearing up after a dog with an unpredictable volcanic stomach upset, dealing with my daughter’s teenage angsts, and being so stressed by both that I was completely drained! I could not do much in the way of writing throughout those two days, but I did at least manage to use my time productively – doing research reading and thinking about the next part I was redrafting (not easy when you’re following a heaving dog with a bowl!). Today, all is peaceful again but now I’m having to catch up with the things I didn’t do.
This year I made the resolutions (well, I actually call them goals, it sounds more… Virgoan!) to work harder and longer, to watch less TV (oh no!), and to condition myself to writing whatever else is happening around me. I am a born procrastinator, so it’s taking a lot of will power, tick lists* and productivity checks (!), but so far it’s going well, and I’m getting me the kick up the bottom that I need. My daughter will still need me as taxi-driver, confidant, money-lender etc, and my dog will still do inconvenient things at inconvenient moments, doors will still fall off my kitchen cupboards and I will still have to deal with blocked drains, sinks and chores, but now, instead of just collapsing in a frustrated heap, I am learning to calmly juggle and be flexible with my time. And, more importantly, I feel much more serious (and confident) about my writing than I have in a long while.
And now, please excuse me while I go and smugly tick my ‘do blog post ‘ box!
* Being a Virgo can be great when you need to be organised, but it can irritate the hell out of others when you turn up with lists, and lists of lists. On the other hand, you never forget to take your passport on holiday when you’re a Virgo because you will have already checked it’s in your bag at least 10 times.
** Try 42goals.com to make your own goal list. It’s free at a basic level and I find it rather fun.***
*** Because I’m a Virgo and that’s what we do for fun (or is it just me?).