Since 2003 I’ve spent the first two hours of every day writing. Yes, even weekends and when on holiday. However, I don’t beat myself up if I don’t manage it. I count the weekends and holidays as extra and set them against the days when I don’t manage to write.
I also try to write 2000 words. I don’t always manage it but often come close – say 1750.
This can actually be quite productive and has led to a novel every eighteen months or so, and several short stories, articles and academic papers.
Then this academic year for the first time, it all seemed to go to pot. I just couldn’t seem to fit it in. Work seemed to make more demands.
I tried for a while working in the evenings. When I first started writing that was the only time I had. When I was studying for my Masters in Writing for Children I often didn’t turn to my writing until 10.00 p.m. I somehow managed to enter every competition going as well. This was at a time when I was head of Languages in a demanding secondary school.
I did alter realise, however, that the quality of my work was much better when I worked on creative material first.
So, no, going back to writing in the evening did not work.
Next I tried packing in twelve hours at the weekend. This worked to some extent but it meant there were other things I couldn’t do at the weekend. Plus, actually, my writing energy fades after two hours. I slow right down.
I wonder what will happen when I retire in just under two years. I intend to try writing for four hours a day – most of the morning, in fact. We’ll see.
So, with much relief I’ve gone back to my old routine. Two hours creative work first. The emails can wait. And anyway, I can muster the energy for admin, lesson planning, meetings and other aspects of my day job until late at night. So all of the work still gets done.
Of course, there is occasionally the early training course or class. I lose the opportunity to make the most of my best creative energy. I still don’t beat myself up. Those are what the extra hours at the weekends and in the holidays are for.
I’m still productive enough.