I had a bit of a flurry of new followers over the weekend – welcome to you all – and I have no idea where they all came from. However, it made me realise that I’ve left this poor writing blog wandering in the wilderness for far too long and if I didn’t start to populate it soon, I’d start to lose all of my followers.
So, what have I been up to since 7 December?
Well, much of it has been personal and doesn’t belong on here, nor does it concern many people who read this. It did, though, include much driving up and down the M1 and when we weren’t driving up and down the M1, I was constantly on the phone. ALL DAY. And my work wasn’t getting done.
The biggest problem was that in October the poet changed jobs. I was, at the time, working on my own stuff, so there was hardly any income coming in from me. Immediately, I got onto lovely favourite editing client and asked them to direct some work my way.
It took a few weeks for them to increase my workload into their schedules, but anyway, I was using November to write the first draft of a contracted history book, for which I’d already received an advance and which will earn the other half of the advance when it’s published. So that was a priority.
The work started to pour in – they really are my absolute favourite clients – and then the driving started, and the phone calls. The upshot was, after begging for work, and receiving LOADS, bless them, I then didn’t get chance to do any or much of it. When I was spending days on end on the phone, I was lucky if I could squeeze in an hour a day. And, of course, you can’t do much editing or proofreading while you’re driving a car.
With things finally settling down between Christmas and the New Year, I was able to allocate and promise much more time to this work. But it means I’m not available during the day at the moment, until it’s all done. This I have to be firm on.
The other thing I’ve decided to be firm about is time of my own.
When the poet was at home, he spent hours and hours doing new job admin, and when he’d exhausted everything for the day, he was relaxing … RELAXING. This included perhaps having some time in the recording studio, or editing some of his photographs, or watching television or YouTube.
What is this thing they call R. E. L. A. X. I. N. G?
When I finish a load of work for the day, and usually before I start as well, I do housework. I run around after chickens. I feed animals and birds. Collect eggs. Walk down and collect the post. Drag the wheelie bin down the hill for the dustmen – and drag it back up again. I empty the dishwasher and put all the crocks away. I load the dishwasher. I do washing. I fill the washing machine, then empty it again. I fill the tumble dryer, and then empty it again. I hang clothes up that can’t go in the dryer. And I put clothes away. I empty the bins. I change beds. Clean bathrooms. Clear away the cobwebs. Throw bowls of hot, soapy water onto the pavements outside, and then sweep away all the muck. I do the weekly shopping. I herd sheep and cows that don’t belong to us back to where they do belong. And I tidy up – I try to put something away every time I walk into a room.
I DON’T vacuum, I DON’T dust and I DON’T clean the windows. I don’t have the time!
Today or tomorrow, I have to go and collect a routine prescription for the poet. I have to nip out and buy milk (we get it from a local farm, rather than from the supermarket). I have to go out to the animal feed store and buy chicken feed, pet food and garden bird food. And I have to go to a bank to pay some cash in.
So I’ve put my foot down. I want some relaxation time too. Otherwise, what was the point of giving up the rat race?
Meanwhile, the poet started his new job and we’re getting into the new routine. This meant that this week I could rejig my regular diary entries:
- I’ve allocated one hour in the morning to “morning [household] chores”. I’ll do as much I can, but when the hour is up, I’ll stop.
- I’ve allocated an hour in the morning to “admin hour”. This is for emails, competition entries, surveys, filing, decluttering. Again, when the hour is up, I’ll stop.
- I’ve allocated three hours per day to “client work”. This used to be “editing work”, but it includes editing work for clients, proofreading work for clients, and additional work for the poet or his band or the gig list or my dad. This also includes emails and invoices relating to the individual client jobs.
- I’ve allocated two hours per day to “my work”. This used to be “writing work”, but it includes writing, my own editing, reading for research. Whichever is most pressing at the time, that’s what’ll be prioritised. At the moment, it’s finishing the first draft of the contracted history book. Next priority is getting the rest of Catch the Rainbow out to the beta readers. I’ve also started planning work for a new cosy mystery.
- I’ve allocated a whole hour for my dinner (lunch). During this time I’ll also collect the eggs and the post as they’re more likely to be there by 12:30pm. I’ll eat my dinner. And I’ll have some RELAXATION time. I’m going to read for pleasure.
- And I’ve allocated an hour a day to “fitness hour”. This can be walking the dog, jumping around to an aerobics DVD, or doing some yoga.
Where do the blogs come in? They come into “my work”. As many of my writing blogs get converted into books, the word-count goes towards my monthly word-count target. I’m doing this one early today, as a warm-up. And to say hello and welcome to all of the new followers. If the client work drops off a little, I’ll nick some of that time for my own work time.
Of an evening, when I’m not dropping the poet off at band practice and doing the weekly shopping, we binge-watch favourite television programmes we’ve downloaded or recorded. At around 9pm or 9:30pm I’m putting my mp3 player on and reading a book while the poet carries on watching something else.
Our weekends are often very, very busy. If the band doesn’t have a gig, we’re visiting family in Birmingham and in Doncaster. Or we’re mucking out the chickens. Or we’re doing odd jobs (or major jobs) around the house and garden. The next weekend we “have off”, we’re taking it off. We might hole-up inside the house, or go for a walk, or go to see a band, or go to the pictures, or go for a meal. Whatever, we’re doing something for “us”. And we’re going to blummin well enjoy it!
How do you build relaxation time into your week? Answers below. 🙂