Whoosh! There goes another week …

13Sep09

We had our first full week back at school, and I can’t believe how fast it shot past.

Suspicious Objects

It’s been a tough week for us all. After the comedown of last weekend’s excitement, it’s been all about getting our heads down and re-establishing routines and, for me, starting to tackle the holiday backlog of projects and deferred housekeeping – in the house, the garden, in my writing and in my business.

In a way, it’s a huge relief to move away from the unstructured chaos of the holidays and back into something approaching regularity – we’re not quite there yet, but we’re pretty close.  In others, the expectation that I/we would just drop straight back into it and hit the ground running was unrealistic.

For one thing, Bellaboo has decided she no longer needs her post-lunch nap, so trying to adapt my business working routines is going to be tricky: losing that two hours of uninterrupted time is going to be hard to replace. I think, in theory, that I should be able to get most of it done with her around, but it’s frustrating because it’ll mean that everything takes that bit longer because my concentration can’t be as focussed as it otherwise would be.

I also didn’t anticipate how much the switch back to a ‘working’ routine would drain me – and the children – and that a certain amount of ‘easing back into it’ is in order. Thankfully, the school didn’t load them up with homework, so despite protests about it all being hard work (it is), I think we’ll be back into the swing of it.

The big disappointment, for me, has been that my writing has been slipping. I’d hoped (again) to write six scenes for the CONTAIN THIS HOUR series, but in between exhaustion, unanticipated parental visits, dance class and a night of insomniac infantness, I’ve only got three done.

Possibly, I wouldn’t have even got that, because my lack of any sort of real progress on these stories had started to build itself up into a massive, monolithic monster of self-fulfilling failure, and I was finding myself starting to look for excuses why I shouldn’t write it, that I needed to make some massive changes to the basic premises of the story, that I didn’t have the skills to tackle it YET, that I should shelve it and move on.

But being the persistent devil that I am, in a non-quitting sort of way, I wasn’t prepared to give it up without a fight.

It turns out that a simple routine switch did the trick – I decided to have a shot at writing in the morning, and shifting my textile work to the evening … and it worked very and extremely well. I guess not being tired was a major factor, but I also think that just putting myself into that mental state of “I am going to sit down here and for the next hour I am going to do nothing else but work on this story” was enough to jolt it loose, because I’ve successfully worked on it in the evenings since then. Textiling, I can do when Bella is awake. Writing novels? Not a chance, so the loss of that nap means I can’t make the routine switch permanent. Perhaps, when she goes to pre-school NEXT September, I’ll experiment with the switch again and see how it goes, although, of course, phonecalls &etc can only happen during business hours, so we’ll have to see how that goes.

What is a big (re-)learning point for me is that I do need to re-establish working without distractions. The first part resurfaced quite quickly – that I need to plug headphones in and listen to music appropriate to the genre/period/style in which I’m writing. This week, LastFM has saved me, and I’m actually getting quite into big band music. The second remembered habit came out of the daytime writing session – emails, forums and blogs need to wait until AFTER the daily writing goals have been achieved, and whilst I’m working on them, I must stay disconnected from all distractions.

It has amazed me how easily all those hard-won learning points from earlier THIS year fell away over the slack, pressure-free days of the holidays and how it has taken so much effort to bring them all back on-line so I can get back to productive work. I suppose I need to be grateful that I *am* remembering my effective habits and gradually slipping off the ones that hold me back, but it’s made me feel like my writerly mojo is something that does need to be trained, and kept in good condition, just as an athlete trains their body, to be able to perform well. And, without that regular training, it’s become flabby and less strong, and what was simple is now painful and tiring.

What I’m hoping is that I haven’t lost too much condition, and that I can ramp back up to peak performance pretty quickly: on the plan, I need to have CTH finished by the end of September. Given that it’s projected at 8 stories of 3-5k each, then I think it’s going to be feasible to work 2-3 a week so I should, should, just about squeak in, given a clean run at the rest of the month.

Fingers crossed, eh?

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