Friday, 10 January 2014

Determination, Organisation and Procrastination – Damian Harvey

I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions because, as everyone knows, they famously never stand for more than a couple of days. I am, however, consciously determined to be more organised from now on. We’re ten days into the year and so far it’s going well – Hey! it’s a start. All of my paperwork, barring the imminent tax return, is done and up to date, as is my diary and calendar. I have a few writing deadlines stretching out before me but there are no worries there as everything is coming along nicely.

I love writing and being a writer and can’t think of anything I would rather do. I love being able to work from home creating stories, poems and rhymes. I love seeing rough illustrations and final artwork and the way it all comes together as a finished book. I love visiting schools and libraries to share stories and to work with children on their own writing. Making a living at this writing business can be tricky though - there’s lots of things that need to be balanced in order to make it work. In terms of the work itself I need to balance writing and school visits – both essential to me if I want to make some sort of living and avoid the need to “get a proper job”. It can be tempting to fill the diary with school and library work to bring in some money but that means there’s not much time left for the writing.

At the moment I’m working on a little series of short, non-fiction books. The first couple of books have been written, a draft of the third is almost ready to send off, research is underway for the fourth, the contract has been signed and part payment will be coming soon. It’s all exciting stuff and very comforting knowing that I’m actually getting paid for the work I’m doing as opposed to the more usual ‘writing and hoping’. I’m really enjoying writing the books and doing the research for them but I’m also very conscious of a problem.  A problem that can be summed up with one word – procrastination. I am very aware that I have a inclination  to procrastinate, or monkey around doing things that could, and invariably should, be done later – emails, tweets, website tweaks, sorting out my sock drawer and just about anything else. Hence the determination to be more organised, focused, and on target.

Before undertaking this non-fiction project I was working on a couple of picture books and a novel for older readers. The novel was coming along nicely but I had to set it to one side so I could concentrate on meeting the deadlines for the non-fiction texts. At first I worried that the novel might wither and die without me there to nurture it, but that concern has all but gone… The characters are flitting around in my head like butterflies trapped in a jar. The problem is that they’ve been joined by other fluttering ideas too – some bright and exciting, and all vying for my immediate attention. For now though I’m placating them all by jotting down notes and I’m determinedly avoiding the urge to take the lid of the jar and go chasing after every idea that catches my interest – another picture book, a pop-up book, a book of poems, a young reader book and lots more. Sadly, I know only too well what will happen if I succumb to the temptation of these enticing creatures – lots of unfinished stories, nothing to show for it and the ever frightening need to ‘get a proper job’.

So, no resolutions from me this year – just a little focus.

Damian Harvey
Damian can be found procrastinating on twitter @damianjharvey

His latest book (an OUP Treetops Chuckler)
Smelly Socks and Terrible Tangles comes out today.


Joan Lennon said...

Focus ... that's the ticket ... just as soon as I've finished reading blogs!

Sue Purkiss said...

Good luck with the non-resolutions!

Stroppy Author said...

I agree - being organised is essential if you are going to (a) make a living and (b) mix fiction and non-fiction (or any other mix). But I'm still not organised enough... Good luck!

Lari Don said...

Best of luck with being organised! (I am trying something similar this year, and just like Joan, I'll get to it as soon as I've visited a few blogs...)

Penny Dolan said...

Balance is the hardest thing. I once had a desperate year and more when I took as many visits as possible. Yes, we survived the lean time, but it took ages to get over that period as far as writing goes. So easy to lose that focus. Good luck with your year, Damian.

Expatriate Tax Services said...

The 80/20 rule!