Once upon a time, back in the distant past, before I was a mother, I used to organise conferences.
When I started writing properly, real books with a view to publication, I was also working full-time, with an hour-long commute each way, and a lot of trips away and evening and weekend work. Apart from the occasional opportunity to write in the BA Lounge at Heathrow while waiting for a delayed flight, it wasn’t really a job conducive to also starting a writing career.
But I made time to write.
I scribbled plotting notes at the back of lecture theatres while keeping an eye on the AV. I worked on characters on the tube. I typed first drafts on my lunch break. But the main thing I did, and the only way I managed to actually write whole books, was get up earlier.
Every morning, I wrote for an hour before I got ready for work. It was the first thing I did with my day and, because I’d already written, it became so much easier to keep writing as opportunity presented through the day. I’d even get home in the evening ready to write some more, eager to get the words down.
Circumstances change, though. With a newborn, then a baby, then a toddler, then a precocious three-year-old who has spent the last three weeks pretending to be a cat, early mornings held other responsibilities. Getting up before the daughter just wasn’t something I could even imagine without shuddering. And in the cold of the winter, any time I could steal to stay curled up warm in bed was taken greedily.
But now it’s nearly spring, and the daughter has started sleeping in until seven most mornings. I’ve got several projects and an awful lot of work to get through in the next month, and the time has to come from somewhere. I’ve been planning to write in the evenings, but after a full day of colouring / cleaning / tea parties / baking / tantrums / cooking / potty training / painting / trips to the playground / library / visits from friends / phonics / watching Joseph / counting and so on, by eight pm I am done.
So we’re back to the mornings. The alarm clock has migrated to my side of the bed, and I’m practising peeling myself off the mattress half an hour earlier than usual. Maybe I’ll make it up to an hour eventually. I know I won’t manage this everyday – after a night when the daughter’s been up a lot in the night, I need all the sleep I can get – but even just some days will make a difference.
I’ll let you know how it goes. And in the meantime, you tell me – what’s your most productive time of the day?