Friday, 11 February 2011

Sloth Week

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!



  1. Ooh, that sounds like a great plan, but I'm not really sure I could manage it now. Like you I find myself tweeting from various places when i could have been doing something else. My problem however, is, that I work full time so anything related to my writing or building up it's platform has to be done on an as and when basis, so I take those three minutes next to the kettle and five minutes before I get out of bed and I tweet, check Facebook or write a blog post on my phone for putting up later.

    Good luck with the plan!

  2. I like the idea of Sloth Week! I think I'm going to make some adaptations though. I'll incorporate Slops Week principles to cooking and include a little break for checking emails 'and things' at lunch.
    Checking the inbox for emails from publishers is tough to get rid of.

    Good luck with your plan :)

  3. Thanks Rebecca! Yours is a tricky one, I think in your case you should have a cleaner...??

  4. Hi Kate, nice to see you over at my blog, thank you :) A specific networking time in the schedule is a good idea. Let me know how you get on. Who knows if my plan will work? The net gain might be the same but I'm excited about trying.
    Only checked my email once today... felt the need to tell me three times about their sale but apart from that, not a lot of action!

  5. Good idea. I'm guilty of overchecking emails and Facebook updates too. And you're right, most emails are either junk or rejections, but we still keep looking.

  6. Good luck. I've turned off twitter a few times to write and it's amazing. Quite relaxing and peaceful. But then I turn it back on and have to spend a few minutes catching up. Not sure if that's a win/win situation or not.

  7. Hi Charlie, yes, it's a sad state of affairs! And by the way, I wasn't guilty as charged. I sent you the FB message at 9.20! Phew!

  8. Hi Patricia, I know what you mean about catching up, sometimes I just check my 'mentions' but that somehow doesn't seem very team player-ish, just seeing what people have said to me specifically. T'is tricky!

  9. This seems like an excellent idea but quite hard (well very hard to achieve, let's be honest) Perhaps you should start by doing it every other day and wean yourself off the addiction slowly. I have to admit that even I like to have sneaky look every so often and see if any emails have come in and I have got far less excuse than you!! Keep blogging though, it is always a good read.

  10. Hmmm a definate tricky one. Since getting tweet deck and setting up my blogs its like I'm obsessed. Especially I started a new job the other week. So set up a new desk and quiet space and have a plan. It means not checking teh internet every five seconds but I'm as determined as you seem to be. I'll never be checking my inbox for publishers responses if I don't have anything to send!

  11. Hi Lyn, I think you're right, I think the novelty will wear off once the washing starts piling up but so far, I'm loving my new strategy, feels quite self-indulgent!

  12. Hi Emma, thanks for following! Safety in numbers! It is quite gratifying to know I'm not the only one. We can crack it though, build a mean, lean writing-cum-promotions machine :-)

  13. You always get me thinking! It's so scary isn't it! I can see the dust building when i look over the top of the pc. Keep up the blogs though - i love them!

  14. .......also does it not mean that your'e not just going to be doing all the tweeting etc in to the night

  15. Thanks Antonia! I thought that too (the tweeting at night) but I think I did that already! I'm employing the same rule at night, writing first, everything else second. I'm so much more productive, I can't believe it took me so long to work it out!

    On the dust front, keep your eyes on the screen... :-)

  16. Jungle Red Writers (blog) posted a Q&A with Paul Hochman, St. Martins Director
    of Social Media. Hochman says with 20 minutes a day on FB, twitter, etc, a person can have effective promotion. I think not, but read for yourself.

  17. Michael, thank you. I only just found your reply, sorry I missed it earlier. I'll check out that link. Twenty minutes would be entirely manageable, let's see what he has to say for himself!


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