I’ve been out of the habit of writing for a long time. Despite all my promises, and commitments, I just haven’t been able to get back into the swing of it. There’s been a number of reasons for this: I haven’t made the time; I’ve been distracted; I’ve had other commitments; I lost confidence; I couldn’t concentrate; and so on, and so on, and so on.
So, let’s remedy that.
I’ve taken another tip from that afore-mentioned person, and had a damn good clearout on social media. I always thought I shared too much personal stuff, particularly in this day and age, so I’ve been through and cleared out old photos, posts, etc. I’ll be posting much less of them ongoing. Less distraction.
And speaking of social media – it’s far too accessible. My attention span suffers because of it. Even on the train to work, I can try to read a book, but feel the need to check my phone every couple of minutes for the latest updates. I can try watching a TV show, and a notification will ping up, which I have to check right then and there, and because I’m checking my notifications, I may as well have a look at the other updates, and oh, there’s a link that I should probably check out, and… Balls. What was I doing? Exactly. That distraction is too easy. Not only does it disrupt my immediate activity, but it long-term damages my ability to focus on something for more than a couple of minutes. So, I’ve deleted those pesky social media apps from my phone. Farewell Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. I’ll check in from time to time, but no more obsessive scrolling because I’m so worried I may have missed something (what, exactly?). Off you go, Snapchat and Tumblr. Never understood you, anyway.
That should take care of the vast majority of distraction. But then, where to next?
Lost confidence in my writing. OK. Well, part of that comes from simply not writing. Like any good skill – practice makes perfect. OK, maybe not to the point of perfection, but it’s at least like exercise. The more you do, the easier it is. The more you work that muscle, the stronger it becomes. Not writing means that trying to get started is bloody painful. And, what’s worse, is having those great ideas that you want to start with, but being afraid to start them without the ready skill to do them justice immediately.
(Lot of fear talk on the blog today.)
Well, part of that confidence change is saying “Fuck it” to that. Who’s going to see that first draft apart from me? No one. I know I want it perfect first time, but that ain’t going to happen. I know I want more description in there, fleshing out the bare bones, but that can happen later. Babies don’t appear fully grown. So, to myself, I say “Fuck that. Write. Just fucking write, mate. Write, then correct it later.”
But, I don’t have time to write. “I travel for two hours in the morning to get to work, two hours in the evening to get home. I eat, put the kids to bed, then I’m exhausted, and just want to sit down for a little bit. There’s barely three hours from the time I get home to the time I go to sleep. Sometimes I want to play on the Playstation. Or have a bath. And if I can grab a little time, twenty or thirty minutes isn’t really enough to do anything.”
First off, prioritise. What do you want to do? What’s most important to you? Prioritise, then plan. Let’s see what we can do there.
The kids are old enough to start going to sleep on their own. I’ve held off on sleep-training for one reason or another for too long. Time for them to learn to go to sleep by themselves. Nightlight, and some sleep training. That should free up some time.
Write on the train. I hate doing this, by the way. I like to have everything to hand to refer back to. I like to be able to edit as I go. And the seats are small and uncomfortable on my trains, so a laptop isn’t great. Fine. Either use the ipad to write, or a notepad. Learn to remember where I was up to, and start working from there, or take a printout or something with me. Do what I can.
TV, Playstation, bath, family, writing. Well, if I want the TV, I can spend a little time watching on the train. Otherwise, time to knock it off (there ain’t much worth watching these days anyway. Maybe cut the bill from Sky a bit!). Playstation – the days of full immersion in Fallout, Skyrim, etc, are gone for a while. Save them for a treat – maybe once a week have a good shot at something, and get it out of my system for a bit. Sod the bath. Waste of water. Family time is important, no doubt, but maybe a shuffle around. Developing the confidence to say that I’m taking some time for myself.
Maybe once or twice a week, take dinner to work and eat it on the train home. Save that time later. Whatever, the point is to start maximising the time, and stop letting it go to waste. Another tip from that little source of inspiration. Time is finite – stop wasting it.
And whether it’s twenty minutes, two hours, or a whole day, it doesn’t matter. Whatever time is there, is there. Don’t allow the opportunity to go to waste. 500 words in thirty minutes is better than no words at all. Ten minutes of quick revision and editing saves time for later.
Lastly, and most importantly: just ****ing write!
If I’m stuck, absolutely stuck, I’ve got a wealth of notes and ideas. Pick one of them. Or scribble something up to go on the blog here. Either way, write.