Friday, 15 June 2012

3 Time Sucks That Can Be Dumped For Writing

Which would you rather have on your tombstone: 'watched the complete boxed set of Mad Men' or 'wrote a novel'?

Writers watch television, of course they do (lunchtime wouldn't be lunch without Bargain Hunt IMO) but only after they've done the writing, not before.  If you've had a heavy day at work then coming home and vegging out on the sofa is attractive, but first try sitting down to write for just 10 minutes.  You will feel much much better for it.  Promise. (You can always make watching the boxed set of Mad Men your writing reward.)

Which would you rather have on your tombstone: 'her children's socks were always ironed' or 'wrote a novel'?

A certain amount of time has to be spent on domesticity unless you want to live in a slum but surprising amounts can be ditched.  Ironing can go - buy stuff that doesn't need it.  It's not child abuse to train your children to tidy up after themselves, and they can learn to use the washing machine and hoover and load the dish washer.

Which would you rather have on your tombstone: 'went to parties' or 'wrote a novel'?

Speaking from experience, life goes on once you ditch dinner parties and the like.  You have fewer acquaintances, but that seems a fair trade off to me.  Things like Twitter and Facebook can give the illusion of a social life, but they're also time sucks.  Use a kitchen timer.

So, television, domesticity and socialising are my top 3 time sucks.  What about yours?


Jim Murdoch said...

I actually think top of my list is self-doubt, second-guessing myself, hesitating, all of which probably all comes under the single umbrella of inefficiency. If I didn’t feel the need to check things, double-check things and then triple-check them it wouldn’t take me so long to do everything but I am never content just to dash off a comment or chuck out a submission. I had a boss once who, before you’d even finished telling him about a particular problem, had the phone in his hand and was dialling up the solution; his credo was: Act first, think later. That is not me. Second is sleep. We all have to but I seem to need so much sleep, far more than I ever expected at my age. I used to look forward to being able to get by off two or three hours a night but last night I slept for nine hours and still woke up tired. I wouldn’t mind investing the nine hours if I woke up refreshed and raring to go. The third probably is the TV. I stop work at 6:30 every day and watch television until it’s time for bed at 11:00; we also watch a half-hour show while eating lunch and tea and I’ve got into the habit of watching BBC Breakfast in the mornings too and that adds up to about six hours a day. Admittedly I do sit with a tablet on my lap and read e-mails, news feeds and Facebook updates while it’s on to try and claw back a few minutes but the simple fact is by 6:30 I’m done anyway so it really wouldn’t matter what I did with the rest of the evening. BTW I've never seen a single episode of Mad Men.

Christina Hollis said...

You've nailed the major distractions there, Sarah. My writing has to compete with my family, my bees and surfing the internet. The first two are non-negotiable, so it's the webpage wandering that has to go. When I'm on a tight schedule I abandon the computer and work on my Neo, which is brilliant. It's just a keyboard with absolutely no frills or gimmicks, therefore no distractions. When I've finished work for the day, one click and it uploads everything onto my computer.

Giles Diggle said...

For me it is watching the garden bird feeders. But I have learned to use it as a reward. Now my writing and birds have a kind of symbiotic relationship We all win.

Apart from that it is my bookmarked websites:s Bob Dylan, Macworld, YouTube, Amazon...and your blog of course! :-)

Edith said...

I think you've pretty much summed it up here. I have almost given up TV except for BBC4 on Saturday nights (that European thriller/murder mystery slot is superb!) and an occasional Lewis perhaps or Poirot as a lesson in plot development, and would dearly love to give up cooking, and already have discovered long slots of time waiting to be filled with words.

womagwriter said...

Reading other people's blogs is a time-suck for me! But I tend to do it between paragraphs when writing the novel. Write a bit, then meander around the internet for a while, then write a bit more.

I gave up ironing years ago.

Sarah Duncan said...

Jim, I'm with you on inefficiency but sleep - oh no, can't get enough of it.

Christina, I do something similar - my laptop isn't connected to the internet so I can't get distracted when writing.

Giles. how clever to turn your distraction into your reward.

Edith, as you say, cutting out television frees up lots of time.

Womagwriter, I couldn't do that - I get sucked into online reading too easily. Re ironing - someone once said to me, but how do you manage summer cotton dresses? I replied, look crumpled.