Friday, 25 April 2008

Teaching an old dog new tricks

I am trying to master the art of self-discipline. After 37 years of loafing, procrastinating, and only getting anything done if there's an iminent danger of something really bad happening if I don't (ie children dying from salmonella poisoning because I haven't cleaned the fridge/Inland Revenue stinging me for £100 because I haven't done my tax return/HMB contract being terminated because I haven't made my deadline etc) I have decided to embrace the concept of a steady, reliable and non-panic-fuelled output.

(Well, that’s this week’s excuse for my appalling blog-presence anyway, and I think you’ll agree it's very clever. So, my non appearance isn’t because I’m a lazy old slacker—oh no. It’s because I'm actually being virtuous and diligent.)

It’s very hard, this self-discipline business. I can see why I haven't got the hang of it before now. Basically, what it means is that I have to take the children to school and not hang around for 45 minutes analysing the issues of the day with the Mum Mafia. I have to come straight home (do not pass Sainsburys. Do not spend £200) where I am allowed to make a cup of tea (but not sit down in the kitchen to drink it and 'just quickly check my horoscope in the paper'), glance at the post and check emails-- once. Blog surfing is forbidden, as is youtube lingering, itunes browsing or continuing the online quest for the perfect pair of shoes to wear to my brother's wedding. Then I have to go upstairs. And write. And keep writing until I've done 3000 words.

On the upside, I don’t have to sweep the Cheerios up from the kitchen floor, clean the toothpaste tidemark out of the basins or go and make beds (does anyone know if there's an age where children legally have to start doing this for themselves?) The dilemma of staring out of the window and thinking 'it's a really nice day... maybe I should get a load of towels in the wash?' has been largely taken away. On the downside I'm going to end up a friendless recluse with a house carpeted in breakfast cereal and terrible shoes. BUT with a book, delivered on schedule and minus a small mental breakdown.

It's got to be worth a try?


Michelle Styles said...

3,000 words. My hat is off to you!
Have you thought about breaking it into managable chuunks? And rewarding for every 500 word increments?

I loved your bit in Kate Walker's book by the way.

Mary Blake said...

Ooh, you've inspired me, India! I am sooo guilty of using the excuse of housework to put off the writing and painting I feel led to do. I'll join you in leaving the Cheerios under the table so I can get down to the business of being creative.



Amanda Ashby said...

If you find out the official bed making age then please let me know because I have a feeling that my husband has long past it. Actually my kids are constantly suggesting that we get a dog/cat/goat/giraffe so that they can earn their pocket money by looking after one (or all) of the above mentioned. I constantly suggest that I would pay up just as easily if they tidied their room. Apparently this is my trying to be funny!

Kate Hewitt said...

I'm with you on the bedmaking age. I make the beds every single day and I'm ready to share the responsibility! Good for you for writing 3,000 words a day--wow, that's a lot! When is your deadline?? I must start on my next book very soon and yet we're in the middle of selling our house and getting ready to move... I sense a crisis coming on... ;)


India said...

Michelle, I do seem to break it down that way in my head-- it's easier to keep going when you're passing milestones reasonably often. (Isn't the new 12 Point Guide great? Your bit was fab too, and it's so amazing to have so many different perspectives on the process!)

Hi Mary! I think we do end up putting way to much pressure on ourselves by trying to do everything, and then we beat ourselves up when the ironing pile is still big enough to ski down and the chapter isn't finished. Let me know how you get on with the self-discipline thing-- it's harder than you might think to leave those Cheerios alone!!

Hey Amanda, you've got to admire their entrepreneurial spirit. That's a pretty breathtaking piece of psychology-- I'm almost tempted to buy them a giraffe and send it over as a reward for such genius!

Kate-- deadline is end of May, but I'm hoping to finish before the kids break up for half term on the 23rd. All the very best of luck with yours-- life certainly isn't dull for you at the moment, is it?!