A few weeks ago I decided to try and get back in to regularly writing. This came after a conversation with my wife in which we recollected that in the 1980s I was able to earn about 50% of my income through writing – mainly technical journalism and technical books. There was one period where all my income came form writing – a year spent living in Nottingham and it was awesome.
Now, the world’s changed big-time and I doubt that the days of me making a fair income from technical writing will ever come back unless something major happens, but I decided that I would like to return to doing some writing and gradually build up to the point where I can see if I still have it in me to write a couple of books on topics that I’ve been mulling over for a while. In one case, 30 years, but that’s another story!
One piece of advice I have taken to heart in the past and that worked very well for me was to make an appointment for myself to be at my desk and writing at a certain time each day. So, I went through my calendar in OneNote and wrote down as the first activity of each day (after praying, feeding the cats (naturally – can’t upset the house-gods), and writing up my dream journal ) would be to write for 30 minutes. I chose 30 minutes because I knew I could probably do it without too much hassle each day, and had done it in the past. I also felt that 30 minutes was a time in which I could get a reasonable amount done – certainly a few hundred words if I came to the party prepared.
So, on the 12th November I did this blog post : http://reader.joepritchard.me.uk/godincidence-strikes-again/ and on the 13th I did ‘The Girl with the Parasol’ on this blog. I’d decided to go with the Blog posts as the way forward, as they make me come up with different ideas each day. I’ll no doubt break out to short stories and longer stuff soon, but right now it’s the discipline I’m looking for.
So, how’s the project gone?
Well, setting the time has worked rather well; having said that I bet over half the time I’ve sat down later than the time specified for writing! I set it early morning because that’s when I’m likely to be most creative – I’ve always been more of a morning person than anything else. But it has ensured that each day there’s a slot of time that I’ve put aside for my creative work and I’ve delivered on it.
The 28th November was a missed day – I’d had a long weekend, got up late, and then other things happened and the morning just got lost. 29th November was picked up again the day, and here we are on the 30th at the right time writing the words! I’m not going to beat myself up about it – I decided that if I missed a day for a good reason (general lifestyle chaos is pretty good as far as I’m concerned) then I’d just crack on with it the next day.
In terms of ‘deliverables’, not including today, and not counting stuff I’ve written as part of my day-job or dream journal, I’ve written something in the region of 11,500 words in 19 days (not including this blog post) and don’t feel that I’ve raised a sweat. Admittedly, it’s not going to get me a Pulitzer or Nobel prize anytime soon, but it’s shown me a few things about myself:
- I can be disciplined enough to write each day.
- I can come up with ideas to write a separate piece each day.
- I can come back to writing after skipping a day.
- In theory I could probably write 15,000 words a month and not notice the inroads in to my time.
- That 30 minutes each day came from reading the news and social media – writing probably does my blood pressure more good!!
So – I have to say that the experiment is going well. I haven’t yet got it to ‘habit’ status, but it’s getting there. The next milestone will be around the middle of December when I can say ‘Over a month’.
Watch this space!