Like many people who only write part time, most of my working life involves juggling.
My particular balls to keep in the air are: my legal job, the children, the housework and my book writing.
Only, even though every week I vow it won’t happen, more often than not it is the book writing ball that falls to the floor while I struggle to keep the other ones in the air.
Why do I do this? It’s not that I don’t want to write. It’s not that I don’t value my writing. It’s just that, every time I am about to sit down and write, there is a school assembly, an extra work meeting, a karate grading, or a cake sale I have to attend and naturally, of all the juggling balls that can be moved, it’s the writing. And, once I have got out of the habit of writing it becomes easy to think, oo, I’ll just pop a wash on. Or oo that downstairs cupboard really needs cleaning out. Or, oo, I wonder what’s happening on Twitter.
This used to cause me great stress. I would berate myself week after week for failing to get any writing done and the end of every week would feel like failure. But then I decided that if couldn’t change my other commitments, what I could at least change was my attitude.
Now I still struggle to find time to sit down to write, but I have learned that an awful lot of writing time is really thinking time, particularly with picture books, where there is very little time spent sitting still at your desk writing. Picture books still take a lot of time, but the idea, the plot and character development can all be done while walking round the supermarket, doing the school run, at a café in my lunch hour, or sitting on the tube. I’ve learned that, if I just let myself relax and daydream, the book will slowly reveal itself.
This was proven the other day. During a very stressful half term juggling legal work and kids, I began to despair of getting anything done. Then one night I had the most incredible dream, which I quickly wrote out on waking.
Now I’ve just got to fiddle with the pace and the characterisation. I might do this while I sort out the cellar.