Wednesday, 12 May 2010

something I'm trying

is noting how many hours each week I spend writing. I decided to do this about a week and a half ago after yet another afternoon spent 'writing' instead of writing. For me, 'writing' is when I'm at my desk with things to do but actually the thing I am doing is mooching around the internet. It usually begins with a 'I'll check my emails, really quickly' and ends with 'Why am I Googling this rubbish??? I'm such a dirty failure'. I don't like that dirty failing feeling. If I'm not in the writing zone I'd much rather watch TV, read, or go out.


I felt sure that my mooching time was far outweighing my writing time, by I-don't-know-how-many-hours each week. I had this bright and (what seemed like) realistic idea that I should be able to, very easily, spend 15 hours each week writing, on top of my day (and often evening) job.

For this purpose, I reckon writing is
the real creative stuff like free-writing, sketching out ideas, trying things out
reading/research related to a story/idea/potential market

Blogging - inc writing here or on anyone else's blog (do that later)
Any other sort of internet mooch (still do that, just less)

Turns out
15 hours each week might not always be do-able. I work about 30 hours in my day job, and this week was unusually draining for me because we planted Mum's ashes. I spent more time with family, and more time relaxing to ease the stress. I also applied for a new job.

It's okay for life to get in the way, but I still want to be mindful of how much time I spend writing, and 'writing', because writing is what I want to do. I want to be known, I want to be read. So I have to make the time, and use the time I have, as well as I can.

But yeah, not 15 hours each week yet. Here are my little building blocks, each one representing an hour of writing this week and last week (I run my weeks Fri-Thurs)

I'm pretty happy because those last 3 blocks were spent working on a brand new story that is different to anything else I've ever written, and might even become a children's story. I am very surprised by this.

How about you? Do you make note of how much time you spend writing each week? It's proved to be quite an eye opener for me, I know that if someone asked me I would have said I did more.


Nik Perring said...

Ooh interesting post.

I've got a half-baked theory on this, and I guess it applies more to short story writers and poets than novelists.

And it's this. Sort of.

We write when we write and all that mooching is just fine (and is feeding the brain) just as long as there's (good) output.

I think.


Clowncar said...

I don't record time spent, but in the midst of a novel (just finished my second) I am obsessive about recording word count. to the point of using Excel and charting it week by week. won't let myself stop til I get to 500 words. sometimes it takes 10 minutes. sometimes hours.

prior to Excel I used to put an x on the calender for every 200 words.

Julia Johnston said...

There's not much in life which is cute and scary at the same time. I might try this. Logging is good. Julia

Rachel Fenton said...

I have dyscalculia so numbers and counting are pains in the butt, however, perversly, I tally my word counts and writing hours all the time. I kind of feel ill if I don't write a little every day....but there are times when I take a thinking break and I don't worry about, there's nothing better to push you along than a great book on the desk to remind you that while you are surfing the net, someone else is taking your spot in the book shop!

Don't beat yourself up about it though - out put/work methods are different for everyone: so long as you are experiencing stuff it will be mulching those grey cells and will grow you great stories...some things just take longer to grow than others :)

Best of luck and inspiration!

And flippin hick - two jobs!! Cut yourself some slack!

Teresa Stenson said...

Hey Nik - your theory is good. It is further on the side of relaxing and having faith that what you're doing is okay, and that the words will come, which I like. Do you think it applies more to short story writers and poets because that shorter work in terms of words lends itself to shorter bursts of creativity?

Hello Clowncar - I guess there's something in the recording of things, whether it's time spent or words written, to help us feel we've achieved something.

Hi Julia - hmm, cute and scary things... Tiny monkeys. Good luck with logging if you give it a go :)

Rachel - do you think you feel ill when you haven't written because you're disappointed/stressed because you haven't done the thing you spend so much time saying you want to do?

Thinking breaks are good. I def go through phases of not having much in the way of output, and at first I'll feel anxious, then I go with it, and usually something good comes out of it, some new idea or direction. Cycle repeats every now and again, and it's always hard to remember at the early not-writing-a-lot stage to have faith.

Thanks for your supportive words - though I don't have two jobs, just one with wildly varying hours and shift patterns. Luck and inspiration to you too.

Rachel Fenton said...

I think I definitely feel disappointed in myself if I don't write when I have the opportunity but that seldom happens, it's more the case that I want to write at times when it isn't possible and so when I can write it is an urgent need. If I don't write I just feel all stuffed up: clogged with ideas and things I want to put down and then, later, when writing time comes up it's like there's all this sludge in the way....I just need to write..can't really explain it!

Teresa Stenson said...

Explained beautifully.


Miles said...

George Lucas sets himself the task of writing 5 pages of script a day.

He sits down to write at 9am and by 4pm he has usually written one page. By 5pm he has done 5. This is his ritual, apparently.

Who would have thought George Lucas was a procrastinator. He hates writing apparently. Sometimes this is obvious.

Teresa Stenson said...

There's defo something about the last hour of writing time that makes me speed up too. Usually if I'm starting a shift at 5 I'm the most productive little thing for an hour before I have to leave.

Do you think George has a day-job in customer service too?