"You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write."Annie Proulx
Have you ever heard of Parkinson's Law? I was fascinated when I heard about it. Mainly because I'm one of those people who tries to shove more into their day that the average-I'm-kind-to-myself person would ordinarily do.
"Parkinson’s Law is the old adage that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion. The term was first coined by Cyril Northcote Parkinson in a humorous essay he wrote for “The Economist” in 1955. (Worklife 2022)
When I decided to take my writing seriously, I had to make some pretty serious choices. Find time to write my first novel. That was easy. I spent weekends potting about on it. The following year, I enrolled in a Master of Letters in Creative Writing. Oh, I better let you know—I also work full time as a teacher. In a high school. Teaching English where there are loads, I mean mountains, of marking.
Are you getting a clear picture? Let me summarise. I was working, writing and studying.
Over the past three years, the following occurred. I changed schools five times. I was hired on contracts. Contracts are the new normal—that whole try before you sign kinda thing. I love the current school I'm at and yes, I'm on a contract but I'm happy to stay and I feel pretty confident the school feels the same—I hope. I also finished my Masters and have a fabulous magical realism, with historical and steamy romance sprinkled in, that I will revise into a novel.
The catalyst came for me when I read a report on Indie Authors. This article kick-started the whole busy as a bee lifestyle. The report shared that successful Indie authors had at least ten plus books in their backlist and worked six hours per day. My mind ticked over. I was already getting up at 4 am; I discovered it was the best time to draft while doing my degree. I could work for two hours before walking the dog, and getting ready for work. I only needed four more hours. Easy-peasy—right? I decided I would do two to three hours after work and after my afternoon run. Goodbye mindless television. This became my editing and reading time. Yep, reading is a requisite for an author. Then I tacked on one to hours after dinner. This has done wonders for my figure. Nights of binging junk food in front of Netflix ceased. Now, there's an upside to being busy.
When does she sleep? I hear you all cry out. Well, I'm one of those people that only need six hours per night. It's true. If I go to bed at midnight, I wake at 6 am; in bed by 10 pm and I'm awake at 4 am. I tend to get tired by the end of the week, so by Saturday morning I let myself lie in bed, reading, dozing off and drinking espresso. I know that's an oxymoron. Did I use that right? Doesn't matter—I just did. By Sunday, I'm all charged up and waking up as soon as the sun rises. I'm like a rooster.
It's hard having two jobs. Yes, being a writer is a job and a bloody hard one too. But boy, do I love it. I love disappearing into my character's world and playing with all those words.
To me, it's all about compartmentalising my day. I have a diary and schedule everything and prioritise all items in my day. I've published my first book, Everything in Between, an anthology of short stories, and now I'm working on marketing my book and myself as an author. I still consider myself a newbie author and I'm still developing and refining my craft, and I still do courses and do loads of reading on writing, publishing and marketing.
When? 'Holy Oleo,' as Robyn said. You know Batman's sidekick. Cue on the weekends. I do all my non-fiction writing—articles such as this one, books reviews, create my social media content and my monthly emails to my subscribers on Saturdays. By the way, if you want to keep up with all my news, click here.
On Sunday, I do my marketing.
Before you think I'm this hermit with no social life. Okay, kind of true, but I'm from Sydney and the bulk of my friends and all my family live there. This tends to limit my social calendar. But I am building lovely relationships here in Brisbane and I get out at least two to three times a month. Plus, as a family, every month, we eat out at a swish restaurant. And Saturday night is always open. I'm lucky, I get school holidays fours times a year and I do a bit socialising during that time.
What have you gotten from reading this article?
Maybe that it is all doable. That Mr Parkinson was right, time expands to fit in what you need to get done. The one thing I want to leave you with is this—it's your time, you're the best judge on how you use it. That's totally up to you. No judgement. One thing I've noticed in my life is that you have choices. How you use the time you have is always going to be your choice.
And always. Always, celebrate any writing you get done in the day or during your week.
"Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money."Virginia Woolf
Happy writing and reading,
Valerie G 🌸
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