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Monday, 27 August 2012

Writing Full Time – an Experiment

I’ve been off work for five days – it’s a long Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK.  I’ve also had the house to myself because wife and child have gone camping with friends for four days.  (I didn’t go.  I’m too much of a wimp to tolerate the discomfort of living semi-rough.)

So, while I had the house to myself I decided to see what would be like if I had nothing to do except write (and of course the list of jobs my Good Lady left me).  As I’ve had half a week, I decided to devote half a working week (eighteen hours) to writing over the four days. 

I gave myself most of Saturday off to go the match.  Sadly I’d have been better off writing.

I’ve always limited the number of words I produce.  I prefer to take my time to write something resembling quality than churn out copious amounts of rubbish that need more time putting into order later.  My limit is 3,500 words a week, simply because it averages at 500 words a day, although I rarely hit this limit.  I kept myself to this maximum this weekend.

So, did I fill my time with writing?

Oh, yes.  Because I limit my output, I found I had much more time for other writing things.  And, because writing was my priority - it wasn’t crammed in the odd half hour around work and family - I found the whole experience much more relaxing than I expected.

I managed to catch up on several writing ‘chores’.  For example, the ‘Writing’ folder on my PC was a mess.  It isn’t any more.  I updated the links and this blog, and my Twitter and Facebook pages (feel free to like or follow, by the way!).

I reviewed several other pieces, including improving the health of my Critters credit.

I caught up on some outstanding correspondence with other writers - I’ve let a few things slip which I feel guilty about.  (Of course, being in contact with friends doesn’t really count as a ‘chore’.)

I did quite a bit of research and detailed planning of the next chapters of my current novel.  I also reviewed and improved some chapters I’ve already written.

I submitted a novel.  I also cleaned up and submitted a very old short, which I’ve been meaning to get around to doing for months.

There was still a lot I didn’t get done, which shows how much I’ve neglected the ‘non-writing writing tasks’.

So, did the experience work? 

Yeah, I could cope with doing this all the time.  I did worry that I might find it boring, just sitting in front of a screen for hours a day.  Because the tasks were varied, and because not all needed the computer, and because I could set my own schedule, it wasn’t a problem.  The main thing I got out of it was time to do outstanding ‘non-writing writing tasks’.  The lesson learned is that I need to devote more time to these, even if I produce less. 

Finally, a word on my schedule.  I’m very much a morning person, and I was usually working by 7.00am (with a cup of coffee by my side).  After a break for breakfast I was back at it again until an early lunch.  Then shorter bursts in the afternoon and evening, with relaxing/chores/food shopping/etc in between.

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