The Thief of Time

I’m the first to admit that it doesn’t take much to distract me from the task in hand. Any excuse to down tools and wander off into other, more pleasurable realms, is always welcome. However, I think this week I have really surpassed myself.

It’s not all my fault. I have been ill. Again. Actually, I’m beginning to feel like Dot Cotton from Eastenders because I’m always flipping ill. I just can’t shake this virus off. That is, I’m assuming it’s a virus. It may be something far more sinister. However, since everyone in the office seems to be suffering in the same way it’s probably fair to say that a virus is more likely. It’s not surprising, really. We do work in a health centre, after all, and every visitor we get is sick. Plus the central heating is on full and we can’t turn it down because it’s controlled by other users of the building, and we don’t have air conditioning in our office, and it’s so stifling that by mid afternoon we’re practically slumped unconscious over our desks. In fact, it’s so hot that we all have to put our electric desk fans on to cool down.  Energy crisis? What energy crisis?  Obviously the bugs and germs are going to breed. We’re practically putting out the welcome mat for them.

So I can’t say I’ve had much energy to do any writing. It’s been a case of dragging myself out of bed, getting ready for work, forcing myself to stay conscious for seven hours then coming home to slump in front of the television. Fair enough. When you’re ill you’re ill. However, it has got me thinking about all the times when I haven’t been ill and I’ve still slumped in front of the television or come up with other avoidance techniques to ensure that no writing gets done.

Social media, for instance, is the very devil. It was bad enough when I had to put the computer on to get onto Facebook or Twitter, but now that I can get it on my phone it’s a constant distraction. I pick up my phone every half hour or so at least and check my notifications. I’ve even been known to wake up in the early hours of the morning and click on the Facebook icon to see what’s going on, even though I’m barely awake and all I really want to do is rush to the loo. (It’s an age thing. Trust me, it will come to you, too, so don’t mock.)

Now, of course, I have this blog to think about, too. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy writing it and I love getting feedback from you lovely people who read it, but it’s still time-consuming. And then there’s other people’s blogs which I enjoy reading. And forums. And online groups. The list is endless.

Then there’s reading. I mean, I love reading and I’m never happy unless I’ve got at least one book on the go. But all the time I’m reading I’m not writing, am I? Then there’s the browsing on Amazon for books. Then there’s the reviewing of books. Then there’s the magazines that are all about writing, and the “how-to” books on writing…dear God, where does it end?

I have a sneaking suspicion that the truth is that subconsciously I am deliberately procrastinating because I’m afraid to start writing. It’s all very well having the ideas and the words in your head, but actually typing them out and seeing them appear on screen is a very different matter, because that makes them real. And when they’re real you can actually look at them and realise that, well, they’re nowhere near as witty or as moving or as interesting as you thought they were when they were just notions swirling around in your head.

I have had a major crisis of confidence over the last couple of weeks. Partly because I have had to rethink the entire novel in light of the conclusion I came to recently that it was far too long and a lot of scenes were going to have to be cut. Frankly, at the moment, the whole thing is a complete mash-up and I’m tempted to press delete on the whole lot and start again from scratch. So maybe, just maybe, procrastination is my defence against actually making any rash decisions, or wasting a whole lot of time writing yet more scenes that will end up in the trash bin?

Anyway, this morning I sat myself down and had a little chat with myself. (That’s probably an age thing, too. Or it could just be me.) The upshot was that I have decided to stop panicking and  stop setting myself impossible targets which has proved to be an excellent way of setting myself up for failure. My new target is to write just two thousand words a day. By my reckoning that will give me a hundred thousand word manuscript by the middle of April. And since I’ve already got a lot of scenes that just need tweaking it should be more than do-able. I’ve managed to hit the target today, in spite of feeling like death warmed up, so I’m hopeful that I can get back on track.

I’ve also taken the advice of Someone Who Knows What They’re Talking About and started a “success collage”. Unfortunately, since I’m currently living in my daughter’s spare bedroom and haven’t got room to stick a postage stamp at the moment I’ve started it on Pinterest. Oh yes, Pinterest. Did I mention that I’ve joined that? It’s brilliant fun but highly addictive. I can spend hours at a time on there, browsing for pictures, repinning other people’s pictures, admiring pictures, sharing pictures…

Oops, here we go again…

Have a great week x

8 thoughts on “The Thief of Time

    • Thank you Sue. Pinterest is yet another distraction and you’re probably wise to avoid it. Having said that, I’m sure I’m just an addictive sort of person. Lots of writers use all this social media and still find plenty of time to write. Everything in moderation as they say! 🙂

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  1. ”I have a sneaking suspicion that the truth is that subconsciously I am deliberately procrastinating because I’m afraid to start writing. It’s all very well having the ideas and the words in your head, but actually typing them out and seeing them appear on screen is a very different matter, because that makes them real. And when they’re real you can actually look at them and realise that, well, they’re nowhere near as witty or as moving or as interesting as you thought they were when they were just notions swirling around in your head”

    I could not have said it better myself! That is how I feel – terrified of getting the words on paper to see that they are actually bland and boring.
    But, your blog has made me rethink this. I just need to pull finger and get on with it!

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  2. Hello Nicola, thanks so much for commenting! I’m glad my blog has given you food for thought and very relieved to find it’s not just me. We’ll both just have to bite the bullet and face up to our demons! 🙂 Good luck x

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  3. Hi Sharon (hope WP lets me leave a comment this time). I must admit that I’ve got a bit obsessive with tweeting my own and other writers’ stuff – and then retweeting the tweeters. I have a feeling that way madness lies. I’ve also started following several blogs, newspapers and the like, so its often the afternoon before I sit down to write. This poses a question – does tweeting, commenting on blogs and reading ‘newspapers’ and then retweeting about it, really get me to the READERSHIP I’m trying to build? Or, am I just preaching to the converted (ie writers)? I know writers do buy books, of course they do, but it’s non-writers who like to read rom coms I’m trying to attract. Then there’s all the ‘events’ on Facebook I join in with, trying to help fellow writers get on the way. And that’s before I even start on the various Facebook groups I tap into most days. If I didn’t do any of the above I could probably write two books a year, so maybe its time for me to scale back – starting with Twitter. I’ll be watching my sales to see if I notice any drop off.

    PS – re, the virus, it hangs about for ages. I’ve had it almost 6 weeks and I’m only JUST starting to feel slightly better.

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  4. Hi Lizzie.
    I think you’re right about Twitter. I made the mistake of setting my account so that I get notifications to my phone. That’s all right when it’s notifications which mention you so that you can respond, but when they’re just Tweets from celebrities and they’re going off all flipping day it’s a bit ridiculous! I’m going onto Twitter now to change that so I don’t get them any more. Plus, like you, I’m not convinced that Twitter does much for building a readership. I don’t know about you but I get totally fed up with being bombarded by requests to buy this book and that book and yet the author hasn’t posted a single Tweet that isn’t a marketing ploy, and hasn’t made any attempt at conversation with anyone.
    I do think you can build a bit more of a relationship with Facebook, but the main thing a writer should be doing is writing!! And that doesn’t mean updating their status, tweeting or blogging. It means sitting down and actually writing their novel or short story or whatever. It’s a fine line because writers have to market their own books so much these days, especially if you’re self published because who else is going to do it for you?
    Like you, I try to retweet and repost and share information about newly-released books and blog posts etc and I also try to review books I’ve enjoyed because I want to help writers out if I can…they’re generally a lovely bunch, as you know! It doesn’t leave much time for the novel, does it? That’s why I’ve made a pact to stick to 2,000 words a day no matter what. If I can do that I’ll be happy and then I won’t feel so guilty about browsing the web. Plus I won’t have as much time to waste on there!
    Bad news about that virus, isn’t it? I am so sick of thinking I’m getting over it and then being slammed right back down to feeling really poorly once more. It’s just so frustrating because it leaves you with no energy whatsoever. Glad to hear you’re finally getting a bit better. Hope this time it really does leave you alone…:)
    Thanks for commenting, as always. x

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  5. Hi there fantastic blog! Does running a blog such as
    this require a massive amount work? I have very little
    understanding of coding but I had been hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyways, should you
    have any ideas or techniques for new blog owners please share.

    I know this is off subject nevertheless I just needed to ask.
    Thank you!

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    • Hello and thanks for the compliment. I am no expert on technology and I certainly don’t claim to understand much about setting up blogs, but I can tell you that WordPress is pretty easy to use and if I can manage it, anyone can! It takes as much or as little time as you can devote to it. I post when I can but I’m not prolific like some bloggers. I’ve seen people post every day and have no idea how they manage it. 🙂 It’s really up to you how much time you want to spend blogging. Once you’ve set up the blog it takes care of itself and you just have to check back to write the next post. You should receive email notifications if someone has responded to your post and there is a spam blocker so you shouldn’t be bothered with that. Really, it’s a case of coming up with a name for the blog and letting WordPress confirm that it’s available, then choose your theme and off you go. It really is very user-friendly. Give it a go! Hope this helps. Good luck.

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