Sunday, 11 October 2015

PROCRASTINATION: A big word, and an even bigger mistake!

I must stop monkeying around!
Why is it so hard to get back into the swing of things after a week away?
Eight days away from my desk. That was all it was supposed to be. Plus maybe one day before setting off – for packing – and another after flying home – for unpacking! So, why is it that, a week after arriving back from my sunshine holiday in Lanzarote, I still haven’t managed to get back in the swing?

When I was still going out to work I would have had no excuses. Ignore the piles of washing and the half empty case still open on the bedroom floor and just set off for the office. It might have taken a few evenings to catch up with the household stuff, but catch up I would, and fairly quickly too. And my mind and body would have been right back into the day job as if I’d never been away. Working from home now, and being my own boss with nobody breathing down my neck, seems to have put paid to all that!

Since getting home I have washed my way through several loads of laundry, changed the bed (well, who wants to get back between the dirty sheets you left behind more than a week before?), collected the cats from the kennels, read through pages of emails (many of them of the junk kind), stocked up at Sainsbury’s, been to visit my elderly mum and helped her to change her bed and get her supermarket shopping too, done a little light gardening and a thorough hoovering of the house, and attended a funeral. All of which I would once have fitted in around work, but now these oh-so-essential tasks seem to spread themselves out and take over, so when it comes to my writing, I find myself sitting down each evening and thinking: It’s not worth starting anything now. It’s late. I’m tired. There’s always tomorrow. But tomorrow never comes!

Writing is supposed to be my job now. My priority. My passion. So why am I not doing any? To be honest, since arriving home, writing anything other than the shopping list has been pretty much non-existent. I did manage to rattle off an article one evening, mainly because it was commissioned, so there was a deadline – and a welcome fee - involved. But what I really want to write is fiction, so why am I not doing it? I'm procrastinating; that's why! Making excuses, and finding silly reasons to put it off. 

My latest published story
The one short story idea that did emerge this week chose late at night to pop into my head. I was already in bed but the whole first page was fully formed in my mind before I went to sleep. The trouble was - by the time I woke up it had disappeared without trace. Yes, I should have got up and made notes, but it’s hard to get motivated at one a.m., and I would surely remember at least the germ of it come morning, wouldn't I? Sadly not. I’ve spent a lot of fruitless hours trying to recover it, but I already know it’s gone for good. Still, one of my stories, called The Anniversary Waltz, is in the Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special that’s just hit the shops (November issue). It’s one I really enjoyed writing and am very happy to see in print, lovely illustration and all, plus I have just sold another story to The People’s Friend, so with that kind of boost, it won’t take me long to find another idea - and to nail it down next time. No excuses!

And, as for my novel in progress? Well, let’s just say that a novel is like another world, one that I have created in my own head, and I need to step back inside it as soon as I can... but it’s closed its doors to me. Temporarily, I hope. After just a short time away it’s been very easy to ‘lose the thread’. And there’s only one way back in - I need to re-read the whole thing right from the beginning to remember where I was, who’s doing what, where and when, and recapture what I had planned for them next. Luckily, I’m only a few chapters in, so it won’t actually take too long. But please, remind me not to go away again until it’s finished. Or at least to make some proper notes as soon as each new plot idea strikes, even if it is in the middle of the night. Losing the thread after 7000 words is manageable, but when I’ve got all the way to 70,000? I’m not sure I could cope with that!  


Francesca Capaldi Burgess said...

I know what you mean, Viv. It's easy to let household chores, in fact anything else, get in the way of writing. I must admit I keep a notebook on my bedside table as I too have lost stories created in my head late at night. And it always seems to be one of the best ideas I've ever had (though how I'd know when I don't remember it is anyone's guess!)

Anonymous said...

Where writing is concerned, Im an all or nothing kind of woman. I either sit and procrastinate for hours, days, weeks even, or I type like a high speed train with strings of ideas that refuse to go away. (Im sure there's a mental disorder name for this!). All you can do is plod on, or accept that you need a bit more time away from the keyboard, knowing that the ideas and plot lines will return ....eventually!

Viv said...

I agree, Francesca, there should always be a notebook close by, but I just felt too tired and too lazy to turn on the lights and use it! Crafty Bard, you are right - the ideas and plot always come back in the end. Having blank periods is all part of the writing life, I suppose!