The shift in attitude has continued. I carry an A4 notepad and pen with me everywhere, and I’ve got several pages for different ideas that I can work on if I have anything from a few minutes to an unexpected half-hour or so to spare. If I’m waiting for someone, I can turn to a page where I’m fleshing out characters who will shortly appear in my next novel. If I arrive early for an appointment (this happens quite often, as I have a habit of allowing more travelling time than I need), I have passages that I know will work better if I hand-write them. I also carry articles, short stories, and chapters with me for editing, if I have any in hand.
When I can, especially when I may have a spare half-hour or more during a day, I also take my new, small Notebook with me. I love that the keyboard is the same size as on my laptop, so using it doesn’t slow me down, and yet it is not much more than half the size, and less than half the weight. This makes it so much easier to carry when I have a walk at one end of my journey, such as from a train or tube station to my destination, and it means I can type while I’m travelling.
I am finding that writing elsewhere is often more productive. At home, there are frequently visitors. I have always considered that family comes first, so I have no problem at all in stopping what I am doing if one of my adult children or siblings turn up; I am delighted to see them. But these are people who have my contact details, and who usually text or ring me in advance. The issue is all the other people who turn up at the door, and for whom I break away from world in my head and come back to earth with a bump. The salesman, the delivery driver, the person who wants to leave a package for a neighbour who is out, the friend of my husband’s who drops by on the off-chance that he is here: all of these people interrupt the flow of my writing to very little useful purpose. If I am out, they will either leave their parcel or bring it back next day, they will realise when no-one answers the door that my husband is out, and so on. Of course, I could always ignore the doorbell when I’m writing at home – but I find that very hard to do.
As well as visitors, there are the chores. I may start off with the very good intention of doing nothing but a quick morning tidy before writing, and I may even keep to it – for a while. But when I get up to go to the loo, or to get a glass of water, I notice things that need doing, and almost without being aware of the shift, I move from being a writer to being a housewife.
Of course, there are many distractions at home, when I’m procrastinating starting a piece of writing, or when I’m not sure where it’s going. I find myself checking emails, social media, the weather forecast, and many other time-wasters. I have chosen not to connect my Notebook to the internet anywhere other than at home, so these ways of avoiding work are not available to me when I’m out and about. A couple of times this week, I’ve gone out specifically to write in a café for this reason; for the price of a cup of coffee or a smoothie, I am left alone to write in peace, and my time tends to be far more productive.
I realise that this says something about my work habits at home! For many years, with small children and a living to earn, writing time was very precious, and I used every minute of it carefully. Now that time is no longer in such short supply, I have become aware that I do not use it as wisely. This is something that I will address; I’m just not sure how, just yet!
I shall post another summary next week, and I also post each day on Twitter.