Pure Time? Pure Nonsense

Lisa Davison is an editor by day and fiction writer/Kingston MA student by spare time. She is currently writing her first novel and was published in the 2012 edition of Kingston’s student anthology, Ripple. She blogs at www.thegreatepuzzle.co.uk and tweets as @LisaJaneDavison. She loves cats and paper.

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I have a confession. My name is Lisa Davison and I am leading a double life. By day, I am a mild-mannered (sort-of) professional copywriter and editor who meets deadlines, turns up for meetings on time and generally manages to sift through the ‘to do’ list in a sensible fashion. By night (and early mornings and weekends), though, I turn into THE PROCRASTINATOR.

My weakness? TIME MANAGEMENT.

Because it turns out the only superpower this title bestows upon me is an extraordinary ability to do the washing when I should be developing character, building plot, or – I don’t know – writing. I have a few theories on why I spend so much time avoiding the thing I love but I’ll save that for the therapist.

The thing is, I don’t know anyone who feels that they have enough time in their life to sit and write, and let’s face it the mild-mannered (sort of) copywriter/editor is paying the bills right now. I also realise I’m not the only one with pressures and deadlines; in many ways I have fewer than most friends since I don’t have kids. I know they’re capable of being distracted – I can see you on Facebook and Twitter so don’t pretend – but they appear to have mastered the art of balance. Or at least, they don’t moan about it as much as I do. I, on the other hand, appear to have created a whole series of convoluted, deeply-held beliefs about the way I should manage my time.

Example: I have a free Sunday coming up with hour upon glorious hour of free time with which to sit and write. Perfect. Because I have told myself I need hour upon glorious hour in order to be creative. The procrastinator likes to call it ‘pure’ time. Only, when Sunday arrives I quite unexpectedly discover I need to tidy my desk first, put the washing on first, hoover first (it’s pathetic how little has changed since I was last at university – although a lot more alcopops were involved) and once all that’s done I’m left with only one hour. And I can’t possibly sit down for an hour to write because the procrastinator has declared I’m out of pure time.

I’ve also wasted a lot energy asking other writers how they manage their minutes and hours, as if there is some Holy Grail of time management that I don’t yet know about. The answer is often terribly dull: planning helps, sitting down at your desk and doing it helps more.

So, as I enter the thirty-seventh year of my life I’ve decided 2013 will be the year of GETTING ON WITH IT. Like any problem, identification is half the battle. Now that I’ve spotted my insane pure time theory I can go about dismantling it. Already, I have spent a weekend away with writing friends doing nothing but story plan and character development. As it turns out, planning really does help. I’ve also started to identify – and more importantly use – the odd hour here, the spare fifteen minutes there to just put something, anything, down on paper. Award-winning it ain’t, but then that’s not the point. As Philip Pullman said in an interview with The Guardian in 2011: “if you only write when you want to, or when you feel like it, or when it’s easy, you’ll always be an amateur.”

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sarag
    Jun 01, 2013 @ 21:44:05

    There are never enough hours in the day my lovely! As one of those busy types with rug rats and a full time job, I know where you are coming from, and I can imagine it is much harder to do stuff when there isn’t a punitive consequence hanging over your head….I manage to plan lessons because I know the alternative is a class of rowdy teens being obnoxious, and that is sometimes quite a scary thought….. If nothing else, the older I get, the more I believe in being an anti procrastiner…as soon as something arises, get it done, get it out of the way. Not sure how it would translate to writing, mind. You can do it! Little and often is better than nothing at all. Xxx

    Reply

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