My most successful method to date for getting the job done has been to make certain hours of the day sacrosanct to writing or researching. All other business - reading, reviews, blogs, promo piece and so on has to be done before 10 or after 4, Mondays to Saturdays, or on Sunday. Life has to fit in at those other times too. And email.
I am fairly convinced if I managed to stick to this regime, I’d be able to keep up with the work I need to do and maintain a happy and calm demeanour, well, calm-ish at any rate, but it seems very, very difficult. Now, the odds should be stacked in my favour time-wise; I don’t have children, my partner is a house-husband five days a week and does all the cooking and cleaning, and all I do for a living is write. I should have plenty of time! I have the Room of My Own thing set up! So why do I feel like I’m fire-fighting? Now, don’t get me wrong. I love what I do and think I’m very lucky to have the chance to do it, but I feel I just missed the memo on how to manage my time, so could someone send me a copy? I suspect you all have one tucked among your immaculate research notes.
It doesn’t take much to throw me off. I find I’ve spent half-an-hour finding out about the meter on a 1910 taxi cab, then when I’m satisfied I know exactly what it looks like I write the scene and don’t mention it. I start polishing a simple blog post and suddenly it’s half-eleven. I write to-do lists then doodle plot ideas all over them till they are illegible and slightly frightening. Sometimes I add flowers, but apparently that doesn’t make them look any less psychotic. And don’t writers need time just to wonder and stare? Should I time-table it?
So how does everyone else manage? Do you have days for your Work in Progress, and other days for catching up with your other tasks? Do you all secretly have an extensive staff? I see several of the History Girls are fantastic facebookers and tweeters as well as keeping up their own blogs and I am amazed and slightly terrified. Please share your secrets. And to those of you who manage other careers while writing, and/or have children too, you have my complete respect and admiration. Largely because I think you must have strong magical powers and I want to stay on the right side of you.