Ah, productivity, how I miss you. You never call, you never write…
I feel like I've been spinning my wheels on this ever since Squawk was a week old and I began thinking about trying to fit my writing around her.
During all this time my thoughts — thanks to my brain chemistry and a remarkable ability to self-sabotage — have centred around my failure to be driven enough, or efficient enough, or organised enough. When I've remembered to be kind to myself, I've thrown in a few mitigating circumstances: I'm tired, so tired, no wonder I can't think to plot or plan. That sort of thing.
It's taken me fifteen months (quick on the uptake, me), but today it occurred to me: I have no routine. Well, okay, I've known about that ever since Squawk came and stripped it away from me, obviously, but the epiphany is that I rely on routine in order to be creative and/or productive.
Writing is an investment for me. I can't sit down and start unless I know, without a doubt, that I'll get at least fifteen minutes uninterrupted. More preferably half an hour. I need time to sink into the world, to pick up the threads and start weaving again. The more advanced a draft is, the more rewrites I've attempted, the more time I need in any given session to get started. The longer since I last looked at the story, the more time I need in any given session to reacquaint myself with it before I can get anywhere. (It's a vicious cycle: with no routine to ensure I get a dedicated session each day on the story, my memory of the story withers and I need longer and longer sessions, which my routine can't accommodate…) I've tried plotting in advance, so I can write when I get even a moment to myself, but I can't seem to plot without a notebook or keyboard in front of me — there's something about the physical act of writing or typing that allows my mind to let my thoughts flow. Otherwise it just holds on to that last thought, as if afraid of forgetting it, and I spend hours circling around the last known plot point but never advancing anywhere from it.
The solution is simple, right? I come up with a routine.
Implementing said solution is going to be challenging, however. Yesterday I utterly failed at explaining to Squawk that she couldn't have the biscuit in the picture because it was just a picture of one.1 I also apparently destroyed her every chance of happiness because I asked her not to touch fire.
I can just imagine how well the phrase "No, it's Mummy's laptop" is going to go over with her. A bit like explaining "not now" to Vesuvius, I imagine.
- To be fair to me, I actually succeeded at explaining this to her, I just didn't succeed at doing it in a way that made her happy, or at least resigned, to the situation of having to eat a milk arrowroot biscuit that was a different shape to the milk arrowroot biscuit in the American picture book. [↩]