The Thief of Time

I’m the first to admit that it doesn’t take much to distract me from the task in hand. Any excuse to down tools and wander off into other, more pleasurable realms, is always welcome. However, I think this week I have really surpassed myself.

It’s not all my fault. I have been ill. Again. Actually, I’m beginning to feel like Dot Cotton from Eastenders because I’m always flipping ill. I just can’t shake this virus off. That is, I’m assuming it’s a virus. It may be something far more sinister. However, since everyone in the office seems to be suffering in the same way it’s probably fair to say that a virus is more likely. It’s not surprising, really. We do work in a health centre, after all, and every visitor we get is sick. Plus the central heating is on full and we can’t turn it down because it’s controlled by other users of the building, and we don’t have air conditioning in our office, and it’s so stifling that by mid afternoon we’re practically slumped unconscious over our desks. In fact, it’s so hot that we all have to put our electric desk fans on to cool down.  Energy crisis? What energy crisis?  Obviously the bugs and germs are going to breed. We’re practically putting out the welcome mat for them.

So I can’t say I’ve had much energy to do any writing. It’s been a case of dragging myself out of bed, getting ready for work, forcing myself to stay conscious for seven hours then coming home to slump in front of the television. Fair enough. When you’re ill you’re ill. However, it has got me thinking about all the times when I haven’t been ill and I’ve still slumped in front of the television or come up with other avoidance techniques to ensure that no writing gets done.

Social media, for instance, is the very devil. It was bad enough when I had to put the computer on to get onto Facebook or Twitter, but now that I can get it on my phone it’s a constant distraction. I pick up my phone every half hour or so at least and check my notifications. I’ve even been known to wake up in the early hours of the morning and click on the Facebook icon to see what’s going on, even though I’m barely awake and all I really want to do is rush to the loo. (It’s an age thing. Trust me, it will come to you, too, so don’t mock.)

Now, of course, I have this blog to think about, too. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy writing it and I love getting feedback from you lovely people who read it, but it’s still time-consuming. And then there’s other people’s blogs which I enjoy reading. And forums. And online groups. The list is endless.

Then there’s reading. I mean, I love reading and I’m never happy unless I’ve got at least one book on the go. But all the time I’m reading I’m not writing, am I? Then there’s the browsing on Amazon for books. Then there’s the reviewing of books. Then there’s the magazines that are all about writing, and the “how-to” books on writing…dear God, where does it end?

I have a sneaking suspicion that the truth is that subconsciously I am deliberately procrastinating because I’m afraid to start writing. It’s all very well having the ideas and the words in your head, but actually typing them out and seeing them appear on screen is a very different matter, because that makes them real. And when they’re real you can actually look at them and realise that, well, they’re nowhere near as witty or as moving or as interesting as you thought they were when they were just notions swirling around in your head.

I have had a major crisis of confidence over the last couple of weeks. Partly because I have had to rethink the entire novel in light of the conclusion I came to recently that it was far too long and a lot of scenes were going to have to be cut. Frankly, at the moment, the whole thing is a complete mash-up and I’m tempted to press delete on the whole lot and start again from scratch. So maybe, just maybe, procrastination is my defence against actually making any rash decisions, or wasting a whole lot of time writing yet more scenes that will end up in the trash bin?

Anyway, this morning I sat myself down and had a little chat with myself. (That’s probably an age thing, too. Or it could just be me.) The upshot was that I have decided to stop panicking and  stop setting myself impossible targets which has proved to be an excellent way of setting myself up for failure. My new target is to write just two thousand words a day. By my reckoning that will give me a hundred thousand word manuscript by the middle of April. And since I’ve already got a lot of scenes that just need tweaking it should be more than do-able. I’ve managed to hit the target today, in spite of feeling like death warmed up, so I’m hopeful that I can get back on track.

I’ve also taken the advice of Someone Who Knows What They’re Talking About and started a “success collage”. Unfortunately, since I’m currently living in my daughter’s spare bedroom and haven’t got room to stick a postage stamp at the moment I’ve started it on Pinterest. Oh yes, Pinterest. Did I mention that I’ve joined that? It’s brilliant fun but highly addictive. I can spend hours at a time on there, browsing for pictures, repinning other people’s pictures, admiring pictures, sharing pictures…

Oops, here we go again…

Have a great week x

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