I think I’m confusing feature-writing with reporting from a war-zone.
The Friday before last, I had an hour before school pick-up. It’s a twenty minute journey from home to Central Library. And twenty minutes from there to school. That would give me the same time to photograph a clipping in the archives. While driving off, I realised I was doing all this for an article that would be needed by October at the earliest. There was always Monday. I didn’t need to miss lunch.
Later, as I was about to pack up for the day, I received an email needing a considered response. Fingers poised over the keyboard, I began to type and delete, type and delete. Then I stopped. My correspondent would probably forgive me for taking a couple of days to reply.
Sure enough, I managed both of those things, fresh from my weekend, on Monday.
My problem has been not just knowing when I can take longer with tasks. It’s also been knowing the right point to stop for the day. Now the children are older, I can work for a time while they’re around, and only feel a little guilt. But they suffer in the long term, because no one can find anything in the mess that quickly acrues. If the house is only ‘pretty bad’ I’m probably in pitching mode and . If it’s ‘awful’, I’ll be near a deadline.
For the last two week I’ve recorded the work I’ve done- admin and pitches, as well as obvious writing; progress made (commissions, acceptances, new information and ideas etc); and necessary interruptions (school events, housework etc.) There are apps for this task, but I’m using a day-to-a-page diary that was £1 because we’re halfway through the year.
At the end of each day, even if nothing’s been straightforward, I can see I’ve tried my best and the reasons I haven’t achieved more. And I don’t have to flick too far back to see I am making headway.
It’s the best pound I’ve spent for a while.