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This Writing Life: Readjustment

14 October, 2010

No matter how much we might wish it, life is never a constant. Things are always changing, sometimes in small ways and sometimes in much larger ones. The challenge, as a writer, is to make the most of these readjustments and not let them rule your writing life. This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about this week, as my daily life has changed drastically: for the first time in several months, my partner has gone back to work.

Now, clearly this is a great thing. We’re all living in difficult economic times and finding work is difficult. Having an extra income is always a good thing. It’s not the money that I’m thinking about today though, but rather how this has affected my writing schedule. Suddenly, I’ve found myself alone in the house for the majority of the day, five days a week. That sounds fantastic from a writing viewpoint and, to a certain extent, it is. I have long hours of silence available to me, with few distractions. I should be being more productive than ever, right?

Well, there are caveats, as there always are in life. I certainly have a lot more time now, but having time and using time productively are two entirely different things. I’m doing fairly well in that respect, giving myself set times in the day during which I should be at my desk and mostly sticking to them. Clearly, a lot of this is down to self-discipline, which I think I’ve developed a lot more of over the past year.

The other aspect of having all this time – and again, this is partly down to discipline – is using it for writing. There are lots of other useful things I could be doing, like housework and errands and reading (all writers need to read, remember). This can be a more insidious problem, as it’s much easier to fool yourself into thinking you’re being useful – and that you’re making progress – when you’re reading, than when you’re gaming or watching TV. This comes down to making writing a priority, as well as having the discipline to stick to it. No matter how much of a mess the house is or how much I want to finish a good book, the writing has to come first. Time for everything else can be made later, but only when the writing is done.

I am, perhaps, making this readjustment sound simple. After all, I know what I need to do and I’ve taken steps towards accomplishing it. However, it’s not easy and such big changes in life never are. Anything that drastically changes the way you spend your day is going to take time to get used to. It’s important for me to remember that, but also not to use it as an excuse: there’s only so many times you can justify watching another episode of Naruto by saying, “It’s okay – I’m just adjusting to a change in lifestyle. I’ll work harder next week.” Sometimes the best way to readjust is just to get back to work.

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