Thursday, August 5, 2010

Finding Time

Susanna’s not wrong: this year’s RNA conference at Greenwich was something special.

Not just because of the meeting of like minds, but because we were celebrating 50 years of the RNA. And because we were doing so at Greenwich, just down the hill from the Royal Observatory and the home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian of the world.

At the conference, Joanna Trollope spoke about how story telling is an ancient art, but novels have been with us for a relatively short time. A panel of Mary Nichols, Marina Oliver, Jan Jones, Julie Cohen and Jean Fullerton reflected on the past 50 years in romantic fiction (you can read the report here.) Between workshops, a few of us ambled up the sun-baked hill to pay our respects to the Meridian.

Time, time, time.

It made me think. You see, time has always been a bit of a bugbear to me. Not in the another-year-another-wrinkle sense. No, I’ve been more preoccupied with finding – with MAKING – time for writing.

This year, I think I’ve been doing better. In February, I joined an online challenge to write 50,000 words in the month. With friends cheering me on, tight management of the day job, Husband resigned to a month of quick suppers, and a quite ruthless abandonment of housework, I managed it. I made writing my first priority, and set aside all available time to do it.

It was good to do, but that white-knuckle write-a-thon left me with so many loose plot ends, I’ve been struggling to edit the monster every since. So now I’m trying a different approach. The 100x100 challenge aims to instill a habit of writing every day – with either 100 words or 30 minutes of editing as a minimum, every day, for 100 days. If you miss a day, you start your 100 days again. It sounds easy.

It’s not. It only takes a visitor, or a computer crash, or a domestic disaster, and suddenly it’s way past your bedtime, and the prospect of spending 30 minutes doing anything but sleeping is horrifying. So far, I’ve had to restart four times. But now I’m on day 14 and I think it’s going to stick…

What about you? What do you do to make time for things that matter to you, and how to you defend that time against those daily challenges?

Don't forget to pop back on Sunday, when Christina Courtenay will be posting.


  1. I struggle to make the time. Even when I make time for writing I find it very difficult to actually get down and do it! My head always seems so full of other worries. I do like the idea of the 100x100 challenge... might have to give it a go.

  2. I find the less time I've got, the more things I get done. I guess I need the pressure and deadlines to make me spend my time efficiently. I've set myself a wordcount target for each day and it sort of works.

  3. It made me scream a lot in the first week or so, Brigid! I'm very like you - I can make time, but then struggle to get through the mind-barriers to making progress.

    I know what you mean, Sarah! Achievable targets are really important - kudos on setting (and achieving!) yours.

  4. I'm usually good about keeping to a schedule, but I do tend to spend more time with my emails. That's very bad. I'm doing my emails (and blogs!) right now before my writing. I need to change that.