The time away got a bit out of hand.
When I finished the first draft, I knew a break from the book wouldn’t hurt. I’d been writing full (ish) time for almost a year, and I wasn’t sure what I thought about the book anymore. I hoped that after a few weeks off I’d be able to see it all more objectively. I also knew had to get my head around being back at work after eleven months away.
The trouble was, I forgot how much time having a full time job takes up: obviously there’s the hours you’re in the office, but there’s also the time it takes getting to and from work, and the time of an evening you need to do the basics. Like making sure there’s food in the house and having clean clothes to wear. So the time available for writing shrinks and shrinks. As well as the time, there’s also the energy a full time job uses up. Getting home after a day at work, I often felt too tired to start writing, or I just couldn’t be bothered. That was on the days when I actually thought about it. There seemed to be fewer and fewer of those as time went on. It wasn’t that I’d totally forgotten about writing, it just became less of a priority, pushed further and further back on the to-do list. One final hurdle, one I can only sort of partly maybe blame on returning to employment: a social life. Now I’m getting paid again, I can afford to go out more than I could. So I’ve been going out. Which has been great, but that’s eaten into the time I’ve had at weekends.
I think about six weeks passed with no writing at all. Then a friend asked me what I’d done on the book lately. Nothing, I said. And they tutted. Which made me think about it again. It was something along the lines of: If I’d spent all that time saving for the year off, then all the time writing, why not finish what I started? I was taking it for granted that I would start up again, almost to the point where I didn’t think I needed to put any effort into it.
I had some spare time the next weekend, and decided to use that for writing rather than just watching crap on TV or trying to tidy up again. It went okay. I managed three and a half hours that day. Not as much as I’d have written on a normal day last year, but enough to feel like I was making progress again. So starting up again in itself was motivating. Looking back over the first part of the book, I saw a lot that needed to change, but I didn’t hate what I’d written. Which was a relief, and another motivator. I managed an hour one evening the next week. Then last weekend I managed four hours.
So writing is back on the agenda. At a much slower pace than this time last year, but I’m starting the second draft by editing and making a list of things to re-write that I can dip into as and when there’s time. I’m sure it’ll take me a while to find the best weekly routine for keeping it all going, in the same way that it took me a few months to find out the best daily routine for writing last year. But since writing is actually part of my normal week’s activities again (I am completely a creature of habit), I’m pretty sure I can keep going. It won’t necessarily be fast, but I’ll get there.