Spring Clean Your Life!

sunny-daffodils23-1000x1000In her excellent book ‘A Novel In A Year‘, author Louise Doughty asks “Think what you are prepared to sacrifice. Writing a novel takes many, many hours .. What, in your life, is going to disappear , to allow you the time to write a book?”

Ooh, I’ve scared myself a bit there. Because this doesn’t just apply to novels, does it? Writing of any kind takes time. Time when you could be doing other, really nice and not-so-difficult things.

My writing buddy Sally and I, when we’re feeling a bit ‘moany’ (which isn’t often, I hasten to add, we are normally as cheerful as a couple of spring daffodils), we say things like, “I wish I didn’t have this urge to write. Life would be much easier!”

But, going back to the ‘time’ thing, I have had a bit of a ‘Spring Clean’ this year and I’m feeling better already.

For starters, I’m cutting back on my tutoring work for the Writers Bureau. I’m not taking on any new students, just seeing those I already had, through to the end of their course. So, by the end of this year – maybe sooner – I’ll have stopped completely.

Secondly, I’ve resigned from a Writers Group I belonged to which, admittedly, only met once a quarter but which was very time-consuming, when that quarterly meeting came round and wasn’t really my thing. I was writing things especially for that meeting, in order to try to please the other participants (who didn’t want to read, ahem ‘commercial fiction’) and it was stressing me out.

And finally, the Book Club, bless it, has pretty much gone by the wayside. I haven’t attended a meeting this year and, apart from the May gathering, which we are hosting, I’m not intending to go to many (any?) more. For reasons which I’ve explained before. The people are lovely but I don’t have time to sit round for two hours, chatting. (Get me, sooo busy and important).

There are other things too, that I’ve cut out or cut down on this year, which aren’t writing-related, so I won’t bore you with them.

What about you? Are there obligations in your life that you could avoid or cancel, to give yourself more time to write? I’m not suggesting you stop visiting the in-laws (!) – or that little old lady down the road, who relies on you for her shopping – but perhaps there are things you do, more out of habit than real enjoyment, that you could stop…? Come on, be ruthless, Spring Clean your life – and tell us all about it!

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27 Responses to Spring Clean Your Life!

  1. Linda Lewis says:

    Re WB you won’t regret it, I promise
    I wish I had a writing buddy…

  2. juliathorley says:

    This is fabulous. I’m a great believer in dumping stuff when it’s outlived its usefulness. It can be hard, not only because it’s so easy to slip into timewasting habits (TV cop shows, anyone?), but also because few of us live in isolation and if the people who share your space are not of the same persuasion it can spell trouble. As for dropping out of groups that are no longer valuable, what is your ‘yes’ worth if you never say ‘no’?

    If anyone needs further motivation to have a bit of a sort out, I had a bit of a spring clean in my desk drawers last week and found an envelope of money I’d forgotten about.

    • Kim Fleet says:

      I love your comment ‘what is your ‘yes’ worth if you never say ‘no’. I’ve spring cleaned the groups I belong to and my friendships – it’s hard but sometimes you just have to accept that you’ve outgrown certain relationships. So now when I agree to see people/ attend groups it’s because I really want to.

      • juliathorley says:

        I can’t claim it as original, Kim, but sometimes we have to say ‘I don’t want to, thank you.’

      • Kim, yes, I didn’t want to say too much about ‘friendships’ – in case any of my friends are reading this – but sometimes you do have to ‘cull’ them, don’t you? (ooh, that sounds a bit harsh..!)

    • Wow, Julia – I hope you bought yourself something nice with it?!

  3. Karen says:

    TV, boyfriends and most of my social life! Gives me hours to write each day, and it makes me happier than any old repeat on TV or annoying boyfriend (am I dating the wrong men) ever could. My friends know I will return to them one day, I hope!

  4. Dee says:

    It’s funny how you wrote about the very things I think of so often. Now, I realize starting that book club, or writers group would probably be a mistake. It is difficult to balance family time with writing. Often they overlap! The last thing my life needs to add to my commitments so my daily struggles don’t surmount, forcing me to choose between my husband, children, and writing. As much as I love to write, there are times I wish the words in my head would take a break so I can just focus on my family. But then, what joy I find putting pen to paper (or in my case finger to button).

  5. Downith says:

    Helen, I just popped by to say I’m nearly done reading your book of short stories and very much enjoying it. When I do finish I’ll put a review up on Amazon.

  6. rosgemmell says:

    Great time to have a clear-out in all sorts of ways! It sounds very sensible to give up the WB tutoring but I must say I love my writing group which is weekly until the end of May (part from Christmas/New Year). Many of them are now my close friends and I still enjoy the workshops and mutual encouragement we give each other. Yes, I’ve outgrown it a little but it’s good to share the basics of writing with newer members, but I wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t so friendly!

  7. Keith Havers says:

    I am also finding that my two writers’ clubs are taking up a lot of time. But I get so much out of them that, for me, the pros outweigh the cons and I would encourage anyone to give their local group a try.
    I avoid any new TV serialised dramas as I find that, once I am hooked, I have to watch them to the bitter end. (I made Wolf Hall an exception).
    You can always take Kath McGurl’s advice and give up ironing.

  8. I’m lucky enough not to need more writing time – I could spend all my waking hours doing it if I wanted – but I also spend a lot of writing time being ‘busy’ rather than productive. One thing I did at the beginning of the year was to unsubscribe from a lot of writing related newsletters that I’d signed up to. I dutifully read them all, but rarely came across anything that was of much practical use to me.
    So now, when I need a break from writing, I have even more time to read other people’s blogs … And I can’t give that up, I’m addicted!

  9. Patsy says:

    I could probably cut down a bit on the staring into space hoping the plot would sort itself out.

  10. philippabowe says:

    Another fine post Helen. I came across exactly the same quote from Louise’s book (which I haven’t bought yet but plan to) and it gave me a lot of food for thought: bringing home the reality that something has to give or the writing doesn’t get a look in. So far I have managed, with some regrets, to let go of the two yearly markets I have been organising in my local village for years. It has created a little more space in my life, but I need to find something on a daily basis – hard to see what. Working, being a mother, eating and sleeping take up most of the waking hours.

  11. Cheryl says:

    I am so completely gutted! I have just completed the non fiction assignments with the Writers Bureau and therefore beginning the fiction part. For months I have kept everything crossed in the hope you would be my tutor Helen, and now I see that you are not taking any new students.
    Tis a sad day 😪

  12. Aah, Cheryl, that’s very nice of you to say so but I am a poetry tutor for the Writers Bureau and so I don’t tutor the fiction, so you wouldn’t have had me anyway. Perhaps that will cheer you up a bit?! Where do you live? Anywhere near me? My new term of the writing class starts on 23rd April, if you’re anywhere near Moreton-in-Marsh…!?

    • Cheryl says:

      Oh how I wish I was near to Moreton-in-marsh given how beautiful it is but sadly I am in ‘beautiful’ Birmingham so a tad too far to commute sadly 😒
      I do feel a little better now I know that you are tutoring poetry; I will continue with my studies and hope I can one day be half as successful as you, Della Galton and Jane Wenham-Jones, all of whose blogs I avidly follow.
      Keep up the spring cleaning 😉

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