Wednesday, 17 February 2010

How Much Faff per Hour?

When you join the Society of Authors you get invited to a New Members drinks party, and jolly good fun it is too. At mine I met people who had proper day jobs but had also published a non-fiction book, a handful of children's book illustrators and half a novelist. He'd started writing with a friend and originally they had intended to split the writing evenly between them, but it turned out that he was good at the writing while his friend was moderately famous so he'd ended up in effect his friend's ghost writer. And the books didn't sell that well, he told me, morosely gazing into his glass of white wine. He'd worked out the previous week that his rate was 10 pence per hour.

This was not encouraging news for a first time novelist. A few years ago I did one of those 'organise your life' things and filled in lengthy sheets about how I spent every 15 minutes of every day. It was a scary experience. Perhaps I should start again and work out my hourly writing rate. I expect it's very good if you include only the hours that I actually write, and poor if you include all the hours I put into the business of writing (like this blog!), and disastrous if you add the hours of faff I seem to need before I get on with writing. And if you added in the hours I feel guilty because I'm not writing but think I should be, then I'm practically paying to write.

If I had to fill in the time sheet again, would I, could I, put in a column for 'faff'? Things like running downstairs to see if the post has come, making another cup of tea, looking for that vital bit of paper, getting drawn into emails and reading other people's blogs. Faff, faff, faff. I could win prizes in it. I feel unproductive most of the time. And yet, I manage to get a book out a year. So perhaps I should say faff is part of my writing process. Yup, writing process sounds much better than faff. They teach university courses in 'The Writing Process.' Perhaps, when I'm next asked about my writing routine (ha!) I shall describe my process instead, the essential need for faff.

Hmm. I think I'd better go and do some writing.





3 comments:

Joanne Fox said...

I realize I am a champion faffer too! I WILL work on a story today - when I've finished noodling about on here, of course. And possibly made some soup and another cup of tea. Oh, and now you mention it, our postman hasn't been yet...

Ann Patey said...

I'm faffing now!

Sarah Duncan said...

And I've faffed all day so far as well. Perhaps we should set up an I'm Faffing Not Writing society.