Monday, 27 June 2011

The Hamster Wheel of Procrastination

The truth is, I'm nowhere near writing for a living.  As much as I'd like it to finance my life, writing is more like a hobby for the time being.  I've got financial commitments; I've got rent to pay, I've got a wedding to save for and London is an expensive city.  Even going out for a pint these days burns a hole in your pocket.  So what I do for the sake of a regular wage, five days a week, is get up and go to work on one of the photo desks at Associated Newspapers.  Phew, that's a weight off.  Maybe I'll become Catholic - the confessing sure feels good.  I don't feel alone either.  My suspicion is that quite a few of us are doing something for money while wishing we were doing something else.  Not that that makes it alright.

Bar the occasional self loathing of working for one of Fleet Street's more dubious organs, there are some advantages to the day job.  I can connect with people who might be able to give me work.  In the last couple of weeks I've met the Commissioning Editors for print and online travel sections and also someone in the book reviewing section who might be able to help me out if I ever pull my finger out and get a 2nd draft of the book together.  There are other advantages too.  I can walk to work, the day rate is pretty good and the hours are 10-6.  So, plenty of time to write around the day job, you might think.  But here's the thing - I've discovered that I have no self discipline. 

Post waking up and ablutions, there's at least an hour there in the morning to write but I can easily eat that up by taking more time over breakfast (see what I did there?) and/or making sandwiches for lunch.  Then there's the sports news (8.35am) and the weather (8.45am) that it seems absolutely crucial to watch.  It's also important to keep a clean inbox right?  That way you're more organised.  No problem: I can easily piss thirty minutes up the wall deleting spam and writing replies I meant to send a week ago.  Not to mention Twitter and Facebook.  It's obviously of vital importance to keep up with social media.

But even if I've somehow wasted the morning, I'm usually home around 7pm so there's some spare hours to get creative.  That is, if I didn't have to feed myself - can't be imaginative on an empty stomach can ya?  Post cooking, eating and washing up, there's the food coma to contend with, so while I'm digesting I might hit the remote.  You would not believe how many great things there are to watch on TV.  Sometimes there's a film on that I've only seen maybe six or seven times but it's a classic right?  I couldn't not watch it really.  I can do some writing after.  But then there's 'Family Guy'.  Oh, go on then, I won't watch both episodes, just one and then, then, God you know what, I'm real sleepy all of a sudden.  I might have to hit the hay.  I'll do some writing in the morning...

Before you know it I'm back at my desk at the Mail cursing myself for not getting some writing done.  But there's always tomorrow, right?


  1. My dad always says, "If ye want something doing, ask a busy man." See his point.

  2. Lee, you will never become a full time writer and thus able to feed yourself from your writing while doing it part time. You need to bite the bullet and go for it full time. I did the same thing for years, then I sold up and moved to the Philippines. I had enough saved to live there cheaply for a year that was all my time. I wrote a book and the rest, as they say, is history. Sort of. In the interim I have had to get regular jobs from time to time but now I support myself and wife and five kids, mortgage and so on from my writing. I also tutor and lecture at night school a little and together it lets me put 'Writer' down as my occupation on forms and stuff.

    So one day an event will occur that you can seize and use as the catalyst to become, once and for all, a full time writer. For me it was my death in 2009. I was resuscitated, put in a coma and decided life truly is too short and so I packed in the day job with Big Tobacco and hung up a shingle. I used every bit of leverage available in the form of dole, child endowment, parenting pension, new business grants and whatever else was going. We live well but within our means with no credit cards, an old car and we don't eat out too often but my time is my own and I am truly free, doing what I love every day, surrounded by my five girls. If you really want this lifestyle, you will make it happen.

  3. I once read that in order to become a writer one must write everyday. It must comsume your life. You have to give up some things that you like to do. Like watching Sports Center, News and movies. You need to think writing is a career more than a hobby.

    I once read an article that listed 10 reasons why one wants to write. In order to write there has to be a driving reason. You don't like your present line of work, freedom from the corporeate world, and able to make your own hours. I think you get it. What ever the reason, there has to be a driving force that guides you. Reach deep down inside and find that force. Use it, fuel it, make it the reason you want to be a writer.

    Good luck.