One week every month, my friend has Slops Week. This is when she and her family eat up whatever’s in the cupboards. They don’t go shopping at all. It’s like Ready Steady Cook every night. I don’t think I’m disciplined enough to install that in our house but it did start me thinking about having a Sloth Week or rather, a more upmarket version: a homemade Writer’s Retreat.
I should tell you what has driven me to this.
Almost a year ago I started blogging because the ever lovely and multi-talented Jane Alexander told me I should. Well, Jane and a myriad of other people told me to. I’d heard, too often to ignore, that a book can be brilliant but if the writer does not appear to have a platform for that book, nor be open to help in its promotion, agents and publishers will be loathe to take him/ her on. Scary. So I started blogging and actually, I love posting (you get to write about things that have tickled or interested you and you lovely people read it – it’s great!) So thank you, Jane. Then I was told about Facebook for the same reason. And then came Twitter and suddenly the minutes I spent on social networking were turning into hours.
It doesn’t seem like that, you understand. I tweet by the kettle, when I’m waiting to pick up my children, while I’m running the bath. But the trouble is, I used to do other things in that time.
I’ve never been good at single tasking. A boiling kettle is just enough time to get a pile of black washing into the machine. Three minutes, that’s how long you should leave the tea bag in the mug without stirring before retrieving and adding milk, I once read, and it works for me – I can hang an entire wash on the drier in that time. Dishwasher needs loading? Give me one baked potato in the microwave and it’s sorted. Crumbs threatening to take over the kitchen? I can get that swept in the time it takes me to call for a balance from the bank. Come to think of it, the time you have to wait sometimes, I could sweep the whole house.
These things still have to be done, alas.
I’ve met some wonderful people through social networking and hardly a day goes by when I don’t see some link to a great writing site or titbit of information from my Facebook and Twitter sources. However, it has to move down the priority list. I have to do it outside of work hours.
This is the same for cleaning and cooking and putting away clothes and washing clothes and paying bills and changing beds and hoovering, and organising holidays and filling out forms and, OK, you get the picture. I will do these things but outside of writing hours.
Sloth week, my homemade Writers’ Retreat, starts on Monday. This is the plan, it’s very simple: 9.30 – 3.30 is writing time.
No Twitter, no Facebook, no popping over to the blog to see if anyone’s dropped in, no checking website stats and no scouring my in-box for publishers desperate to sign me - which will be particularly tricky. I don’t think I have an addictive personality, I couldn’t really fit it into my life, but the checking of my inbox, as I have mentioned before, is erring on the obsessive. Even though I know that in all reality, rejections come in e-mails, signings come by phone.
Please wish me luck with Sloth Week. Join me if you fancy, we can chat about it after 3.30!