Friday, 27 March 2009

Coffee break

Unfortunately I'm going to have to slurp a highly caffeinated beverage on the run today - I'm writing this from a hotel room in London and I'm due in a client meeting in 68 minutes... Preparing for this meeting (and the one next week, and the HUGE one at the beginning of May) has taken most of the time I've had this week. But I've still managed to write 2,500 words, mainly by writing on the train during my commute (when I haven't been using this extra time to work...). This has meant the writing topic foremost in my mind when I woke up and 6.58 and thought 'OH MY GOD IT'S MY COFFEE BREAK TODAY!' was fitting in writing when everything else gets so crazy you barely remember to brush your teeth. I guess the parents among us are more familiar with this feeling than most, and I for one would be exceedingly grateful for any tips to dealing with writing vs the rest of life. How do you fit it all in?

(Sorry if this post is a bit rubbish, I promise it will be better next week!)

24 comments:

Annieye said...

Not a rubbish post at all, Ellie! The reason I appear to be first, I suspect, is because I've been up since 4 am writing! I get up at 4(ish) and write until 7 - three hours a day.

I find I am at my best first thing in the morning and I'm damned if the day job or, God forbid, housework is going to steal that time from me!

Once you get used to it, the tiredness disappears.

Best of luck with the meetings and I'll join you in a super-caff before work.

KAREN said...

I'm on the run too as I've been called in to work - no time for coffee until I get there :o(

Oddly, I find the less time I have the more writing I manage to squeeze in as I get panicked and think, right I've got to do some whenever I've got a spare minute, whereas when I have swathes of time on my hands (not very often) I faff about and get nothing done at all!

Hope the client meeting goes well :O)

Debs said...

Best of luck with the meetings.

I agree with Karen, the more time I have to write, the less I actually manage to do.

I'm not a morning person. My writing generally starts after work, when I've done any shopping, made supper, and completed anything needed doing in the house. After that, usually about 6pm, I go out to the shed and write, stopping at 9pm otherwise my eyes would be too sore for work the next day.

Those are the good days. The other days, I faff about and get very little done at all.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Hi Ellie, you sound as though you have a very hectic schedule. I find that when I write, the rest of life is generally pushed to one side, until child comes calling of course.

When dealing with rest of life stuff, the writing tends to suffer. Which is what has happened for the past few months. It's funny how other stuff creeps up and before you know it, you are totally wrapped up in something else. I guess I need a lot more discipline. And a little less farming.

Best wishes for the meeting.
CJ xx

Flowerpot said...

You sound frantic, Ellie! Funnily enough, I've recently had to cut down my work time to just mornings for health reasons. To my amazement I've written more journalism than I used to though it does mean I havent been able to have any time onthe novel. Still, that will come now I'm feling better. I hugely admire Annieye for gettting up at 4am - I'd be dead for the rest of trhe day!

Cathy said...

I'm lucky that I work from home and only very part-time, so most of my writing is done when the kids are at school/college. However I also find I can sometimes get quite a lot written on a Sunday, perched with my laptop in the lounge, if the other members of the family aren't being too noisy and chaotic. I hardly ever write in the evenings and I'm definitely not an early morning person!

Clare Sudders said...

Actually, this is something I'm not that great at. I have two kids, and one of them is only eight months old. They take up so much of my time and energy that the only way I can realistically write is by packing them off to nursery and school. If I had a proper job, I'd be buggered. At the moment, writing is officially my job. Although I feel like a total fraud, as my writing earnings this year are unlikely to top a measly £2k. I feel like I'm just playing at it.

But aaaanyway... I'm not much good at multi-tasking. If I really really have to, I'll write in the evenings after the kids are in bed, but I can't sustain it for long. And my eyes practically explode from my head when I hear of mums writing on their laptops while their children are in the room. Amazing. I can't do that.

Last year, when my baby was three months old, I spent a month doing en edit of my second book for its German publisher. I didn't have childcare at that time, so I tried to fit it around looking after the baby. I worked when he napped, I worked late at night, I even did a bit while he was feeding on my knee or lying at my feet. It was HORRIBLE. Very difficult indeed, and I was a physical wreck by the end of it.

Unless I get another book deal (which I am currently very pessimistic about) I'm going to run out of money later this year. Even if I do get a deal, my experience so far is that it takes a year between being offered a deal and actually receiving any money... so I still won't be able to carry on. So I'm looking at doing a PGCE in September. And if I do that... I'll have to stop writing. There's no way I'll be able to fit it around full time study AND being a mum. I need proper laid-aside writing time, with no distractions, when I still have some energy (ie not late at night, at the end of a long day).

So... the short answer to "how can you fit writing into a busy life?" I can't!

CC Devine said...

Ellie the start to your day some so familiar to me. Where you're in near-permanent state of panic AND feeling guilty about not making the time to dedicate to your writing. Not a problem I have anymore...

I am exactly the same as Karen - when I have little spare time I still manage to squeeze in my writing somehow and when I've got plenty of time on my hands I seem to need a rocket up my behind. I've long wished to give up full time employment to write and now that I'm unemployed and have all the time in the world to write I seem to fill my day with family duties and other 'stuff' and still find myself staying up late working on the wip because I've frittered my day away.

Annieye - wow! Wish I could work as you do but I struggle to get out of bed as it is.

Rowan Coleman said...

Hahahahahahahah laughs hysterically. My answer to this question is that I don't know. Two children's novels to deliver, one new adult novel one revised US edition and all before August when baby is due, not to mention looking after my daughter and even sometimes tidying. I find its best not to think about it because when you do that's when the jibbering starts.
hahahahahahahahahahahhahahahhahahahahahhaahhaha

Graeme K Talboys said...

I'll abstain. No kids. Housebound disabled. The only distraction I have is the very thing that allows me to keep in touch with the outside world. The computer. And that's hardly high on the scale.

When I first started work (teaching) I managed a routine of writing from 8 in the evening until 1 in the morning. But I think that's why I burned out. Ho hum. Still, I got a lot of material out of that.

I take my hat off to anyone who can juggle domestic and work life with their writing.

NoviceNovelist said...

Oh I wish I had a magic wand to wave over this one Ellie but I'm with Rowan on the insanity of it all!!!! I had 3 hours to write yesterday which is the only time I've had for several weeks due to work/family et al. I fell upon the laptop like a madwoman and when my hubby returned home he took one look and me and nearly fled! I was mad eyed and scary looking but Oh sooooo happy. No forumla from me that works I'm afraid - it's all very hit and miss!

Fiona said...

For me it's not so much having the time - as I'm now hardly working at all - but decided what will suffer if I do write.

No one else will shop, cook or wash up
walk dogs, ferry kids to school, after school clubs etc.

This is NO EXCUSE. Look at Annie. Actually I'd rather not think about the 4 am thing as it's just not going to happen. So I write what I consider to be a reasonable coffee break - about half an hour two or three times a day. On a good day.

Lily Sheehan said...

I'm slightly out of breath reading this so you conveyed your plight well. I think when you have to cram it all in it makes you work harder. I leave it all to the last minute and somehow manage to cram it all into the space of an hour.

Helen said...

Over the past few weeks I've managed to get together a routine that seems to be working so far. Obviously with a four month old baby and a five year old things are going to be tough but I'm lucky in that my baby goes to sleep around 6:30 - 7:30pm every night. I then write for a few hours.

I also write during the day if the baby is asleep - but as she is a good sleeper at night she doesn't nap for long during the day.

I have noticed however, that other things on my to do list are not getting done. Like my cooker hob. It is disgusting. Though as my friend said to me today - who's going to see it?

Clare Sudders said...

"Like my cooker hob. It is disgusting."

Mine too, if that's any consolation. Maybe we should have a competition to see who has the most neglected house, and post photos. The worst offender gets a prize. That way we can revel in our slatternliness, rather than angst about it! :O)

Un Peu Loufoque said...

Good post Ellei despite being written whilst dealing with 97 things at once! I find I write better the more I have to do, if real life is slow, I ahvent any orders to fill with my pottery business or house is not falling about my ears I suddenly find my writing stuck in a small stagnant pool in the stream of life. I work better when the waters roar about me and push me on!

Fiona said...

Clare, I KNOW I would win. My cooker hob even has dog hairs on it, my carpet is covered with piles of books/clothes/second pages of important letters.

I hid in the loo the other day, when a friend called round.

What's the prize?:)

Clare Sudders said...

I can match the dog hairs, and have also been known to hide in the loo... but that's from the next door neighbour. Still, my carpet is visible, if dirty.

Prize: An Easter Egg? A cleaner? ;)

Lane said...

when everything else gets so crazy you barely remember to brush your teeth. Oh yes. The last couple of weeks have been like this and writing is the first thing to go out of the window. Putting food on the table, elderly parents and a couple of children kind of comes first:-) I have no answers. Sometimes I manage to fit in some writing, sometimes I just don't.

oh and my cooker hob is a disgrace. As for the oven....:-(

Captain Black said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clare Sudders said...

Well, here I am at 9.30pm about to settle down to another protracted writing session. I imposed a deadline on myself, and it is today - I have to get the second draft finished before bed tonight, so that I can send it off to my agent.

The thing is, there's this hectic part of the day between 3.15pm (altho on Fridays it's 6pm, cos Boyf picks the 6-yr-old up from school) and 9pm which consists of playign with children, feeding with children, putting children to bed... and at the end of all that all I really want to do is collapse in front of the telly, particularly on a Friday night. It's hard to get my head back into Writing Mode, but I often end up here all the same. And then spend an hour or two surfing the net instead...

Hmmm. No. I will finish this draft before bed, if it kills me.

Caroline said...

I have no idea how I do it either! I have set myself a weekly word count total and broken it down into days and 'cause it's there, on my list, well I HAVE to do it...

That makes sense to me, sort of.

The house is a mess, ironing gets done as and when. But, at least I'm writing.

x

ChrisH said...

Sorry, didn't make it yesterday because of the thing that is stopping me writing... visitors again. The downside of living in the country and far away from friends and family is that it's hard to turn them away when they want to stay but it's all got a bit ridiculous lately.

Captain Black said...

If you have a busy life, as it seems most of us do, then I suppose that routine is the only way to get things organised. I've found that unless things get scheduled in, including writing, then they simply don't happen.

Perhaps we should all go on a time management course?