On Not Writing: Distraction, Disruption, Exhaustion.

I don’t think I’ve ever been quite this distracted before. No matter what else was going on in my life, I’ve always managed to concentrate on writing, often to the exclusion of everything else. When I look at the amount of reasonably successful work I’ve completed and had performed and published, over the years: poems, plays, short stories, non-fiction and, more recently, long and well researched historical novels, I feel an odd mixture of surprise and pride. But for somebody who usually manages to be both easy-going and utterly absorbed in her work, I've recently become aware that - in the immortal words of Joseph - things ain’t going well, hey, things ain't going well.
I’ve sometimes felt in the past that I wasn’t as focussed as I might have been, but that was generally because I had too many writing irons in the fire, rather than too few, too many projects on the go at once. Now, I seem to have far too many non-writing irons in the fire. This state of affairs seems to have crept up on me, for a variety of complicated reasons, but the time has certainly come to call a halt, take stock and do things differently. Which is, of course, far easier said (or blogged!) than done.
For the past couple of months, I’ve been struggling to balance work and finding ways of making an income, (just like most of the rest of the population, old Etonians excepted)  with daily life and the demands of friendship and family, but at the moment, I don’t seem to be managing any of them very well.  An involvement with a local community enterprise has only added to my woes and I’m beginning to think about straws and camel’s backs. Facebook is an additional distraction, even though it’s wonderful for networking and keeping in touch with friends and work colleagues.  And Twitter. And blogging. The garden takes time, even though I know it’s good for me. The house takes time. And then there’s the other job, (not really the day job, since I do most of it online, at night) dealing in antique textiles, which seems to be much less cost effective than it once was, and – although essential from a budgetary point of view  - also needs a bit of a rethink since it’s becoming hugely time consuming for what amounts to very little reward.
The harsh truth is that I'm doing too much unpaid work, and if I'm going to work unpaid, then it ought to be on something I want and need to do, as well as something with the potential to generate a little income in the future. Essentially, I need to be cracking on with new novels, especially given that the possibility of publishing online (and even making some money out of it) now needs to be added into the mix. 
One thing I’m sure of, I’m not alone.  Lots of female friends, professional artists and writers in particular, but others too, seem to be in exactly the same situation as me: all of us, not generally given to self pity, feeling agitated and tired and not working to our full capacity, while struggling desperately to make ends meet.
We seem to have gone straight from being distracted by  the demands of raising a family, and coping with elderly parents, to fending off the assumption that we are winding down towards retirement ourselves.
And it isn’t just that we can’t afford it. It’s that with – hopefully – up to a third of life still ahead – winding down seems ridiculous.
I’ve been reading an excellent book called Transitions by William Bridges, which has helped a bit, and discussions with like-minded friends help too. I’ve made lists and plans, but then I’ve always been a manic list maker. I’ve looked at time management. I'm not short of ideas.  But the harsh truth is that I need to do fewer things in my working day, but do them for longer, do them better, more exclusively, more intensively and with more deliberate and ruthless focus.
In short, I need to become more like a man.
All (reasonable) suggestions for achieving this desirable state of affairs gratefully received!

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