Time Management for Writers - The Reality and the Dream

I have realised over the past few years that this is not my forte but I seem to have grown infinitely worse as time has gone by and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's just that life has grown ever more complicated. I don't remember having quite this trouble when I was young and madly excited by whatever I happened to be working on at the time. Now there's the added complication of earning a living, doing that mysteriously expanding thing known as 'paperwork' and trying to help maintain a house and garden in something like full working order. I can perfectly well understand why certain writers have a dedicated office where they go 'out to work' every morning.
Once or twice I have assessed what exactly it is that distracts me from flat out work, and the list goes something like this -
Coax self out of bed about 7.30 (mornings are not my best time) and drink copious quantities of tea. Shower, dress, dry hair. Best ideas always occur in shower. Make some notes. Make bed. Sometimes change bed and sling washing in machine.
Check online business, The Scottish Home (antiques - our bread and butter these days) answer questions about listed items, send invoices where appropriate, etc. Sort out stock to list later on today, usually in the evening.
Field and answer various emails, often to do with writing of one kind or another. Promise self that will not check emails compulsively through the day in case amazing offer from publisher or preferably film maker is lurking in inbox.
Post has arrived. Mostly junk. Some bills. Visualise bills as cheques (Yes, I've read The Secret too!)
Wrap and address anything that has been sold. In the case of textiles this involves tissue paper, pretty stickers, nice postcards and envelopes. Presentation is important in this business.
Take packages to post office.
Do some PC maintenance. In extreme cases (like last Sunday for instance) this took up most of the day while I tried to restore elderly and sick PC to factory settings and then couldn't get printer to work. No disk. Found HP disk for other machine. Tried it. It worked. Miracle.
Make very large cafetiere of very strong coffee. Drink very large mug of said coffee.
Spend a little while blogging - make resolution not to spend too much time on this, but it does seem to prime the writing pump.
Do a bit of online research for latest project.
Read dissertations which students have sent via email. (Do one day a week on RLF fellowship at local university)
Sun is shining. Notice that all plants in conservatory are panting and wilting in heat. Water them. Drink second mug of coffee.
Husband says 'Can you just....' Could be anything from ordering paint and canvas to invoicing somebody. Remember that have not done any online banking for ages and everyday working account is probably overdrawn. Not disastrous since agreed overdraft, but should do it now. Am slightly horrified by falling balances and rising bills.
Ring at doorbell. Could be friends or relatives popping in for morning coffee, man to read electricity, oil or coal delivery etc etc etc.
Phone rings. Cannot ignore phone. May be publisher or film maker with unrepeatable offer. It is invariably somebody asking personal questions in an effort to sell me something. Either that, or friends, or relatives. Occasionally it's work. Always delighted when it is agent. Last week it was an American offering to sell us shares in an oil company. You must be joking, I said, and put the phone down. (Query, why do these people who have, after all, phoned you up always get quite shirty when you won't play ball?)
By now it's lunch time. Drink tea, eat large bowl of yoghurt. Will write this afternoon.
Sun is shining. Garden is a mess. Do garden and feel guilty about writing. Or do writing and feel equally guilty about garden.
Phone rings. Kwikfit offering to renew car insurance at reduced rate if I do it now. Decide to save time by doing it now. Answer questions about self and car. Have to go upstairs to find car documents.
Do photo session for listings later this evening while light is good.
Write. Bliss. Room is quiet. Radio is off.
Notice that there is a heap of bills, invoices, receipts waiting to be filed. File them.
Eat meal cooked by husband. Sometimes cook meal. Drink some wine. Government says women must not drink wine under pain of assorted apocalyptic disasters. Drink another glass in a spirit of anarchy.
Upload pics to PC and tweak them. Do some listings. This involves a lot of descriptive writing since bulk of antiques are textiles, vintage clothes etc. And measuring. And laundry. Finish blog post from this morning. Check emails and reply. Waste time on Facebook. Restrain self from looking at son's Facebook page. Must not spy on grown up offspring.
Watch an hour or so's TV.
Friend phones for a catch-up.
Make tea.
An hour later check online listings that are coming to an end and send out invoices.
Go to bed anytime between twelve and one and read for however long I can stay awake - sometimes an hour or more, sometimes ten minutes.
None of this - of course - includes shopping, buying antiques at auction, designing and ordering postcards for online business, ordering office supplies, putting in the washing, stacking the dishwasher, stain removing and laundering the old textiles, car booting, going to meetings, really doing the garden, dusting, baking and cleaning the loo. Husband always does more than his fair share. He even irons the textiles (much better at it than me.) It does not include having my hair cut and my teeth fixed and browsing bookshops and doing an art history course and looking at handbags in TK Maxx. Nor does it include my all time favourite occupation which is sitting in Caffe Nero, preferably very early in the morning, with cool music playing, drinking a very large capuccino (without chocolate on top.) and making notes for poems in the back of the little diary I always carry with me. Three cheers for Caffe Nero. I would actually be quite happy to spend all day working in there if they would keep me supplied with coffee. Would they like a writer in residence? It could be me.
My dream - I'm working on it - is to have a small studio flat, preferably in Glasgow's Merchant City (a quiet street of course, somewhere high up and at the back of a building, quite close to Caffe Nero would be good) with few distractions - a nice desk, a laptop, a comfortable bed, a shower room a small kitchen area and very little else. I would spend three or four days a week there with occasional sorties for coffee and probably get more done in those three days than I ever do in a week of trying hard at home. Plus my husband would be glad to see me when I came back. I would, of course, tell very few people where it was, lest shoppers should decide to pop in unannounced and leave carrier bags with me. But in any case I could pretend that I wasn't there. Paradise. If anyone out there is reading this and wants a tame writer to flat sit on an occasional basis, just let me know!

Comments

debutnovelist said…
sounds like a great day to me, especially if you did teh garden (always last on my list). Especially like your anarchic moment with a glass of wine. On this topic found this article inspiring
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2008/03/25/do2503.xml
Alison
Anonymous said…
My Dear Catherine

I don't know how you do all you do. I love to read you bloggs; it inspires me!

Much love

Barbara Wyant