Friday night was the first night of training for under 8/9 rugby and I'm seriously considering writing a book about this season because it's the first time the boys will be tackling. I really liked the Tracy Kidder books 'Soul of a New Machine' and 'House' where the author went deep into a single topic, and I think I could try something similar with this, following a bunch of kids through their first year of full contact sport. So I took myself down to the ground on Friday night to have a chat with the coaches and to watch the first training session through a journalist's eyes rather than a dad's.
My plan is to take a digital recorder along to a few training sessions and the first couple of games, put down my notes, use Mac Dictate Scribe to transfer the sound files directly into a written archive, and see what sort of material I've got after a few weeks.
The rest of the weekend was chewed up with deadlines and this is the first chance I've had to sit down and do some personal blogging. I thought I might work my way through a couple of the questions in last week's thread about writing.
Girlclumsy asked about my writing routine. Wondering how I get myself "in the mood" for long stretches of writing, or how I get back into it after a distraction or a blockage. Having a mortgage helps. As does having a rolling series of deadlines for blogs, columns and magazine articles. Like anybody else with a job, I have a certain amount of work I need to get through in a day and unless I plant arse to chair and make with the keyboard action the work will not get done, the bunnies won't be paid, the hovercraft will be repossessed. That's generally motivation enough.
However, yes, I do have a routine of sorts. When you work from home, meaning you are the at-home parent as well as a home office drone, a lack of routine will quickly bring you undone. My official work day can only run from nine in the morning until about 230 in the afternoon. That's the extent of the time to myself I can count on, even though Jane puts in a huge effort to give me as much extra writing time as possible.
So, my day goes like this; I wake anywhere between five and 5.30, not because I want to, not because I'm a morning person (ugh), but because if I don't I simply won't have time to get done what I need to get done. First up that means at least an hour of exercise. Sometimes on mornings when the kids don't have extra commitments I might even score an extra 30 minutes in the rough little gym I've thrown together under the house. Whatever training I'm doing, I always finish up with the 10 minute swim, to cool down and to mark the end of the time I can call my own in the morning.
From that point until the moment I drop the kids at school I'll be supervising them, dealing with any e-mails which comes in overnight from my northern hemisphere publishers, setting up links to the days blogs at BT if relevant, opening and arranging whatever files I will be working on through the day, and quickly inhaling some breakfast.
Back from school, I do my round of website visits including blogs, social media sites, and news pages, noting down any topics I might want to revisit later in the day for work.
At nine o'clock I start my first two-hour block of writing. The most pressing deadline gets the first two hours. If there are no pressing deadlines, that first block will be devoted to the next book, in which case the first half hour will be given over to reviewing the previous day's work, which I find an excellent way of getting my head back into the story. After two hours I have a 10 minute break, then go back and do another two hours. Same rule as before, the most pressing deadline gets serviced in that block. At the end of that two hours it's time for lunch. Working from home, this doesn't take much time. I'll usually hook into some leftovers from the night before, or just make a sandwich or a protein heavy salad (cheers to Bobgrrl for that). Blog entries such as this one often get drafted in that time.
After lunch I probably have an hour to spend on work before I have to go pick up the kids. That time usually gets devoted to the second most pressing deadline of the moment, often a magazine feature. Then I go pick up the kids and the rest of the day is a write-off. when they are finally abed I'll usually return to my office for at least an hour and a half and work on whichever book I'm writing. By about 9.30, 10 o'clock, my brain has turned to shit and it's time to give up. I'll usually watch a bit of teev or play some Xbox before going to bed. That routine doesn't apply every night of the week, of course. I try and keep two or three nights free.
I'll see if I can answer another one tomorrow.