Fifteen Minutes

Since I’ve been freelancing (over a year now, yikes), I’ve noticed what I shall call the Freelancer’s Scale of Jobs to Concentration. The more jobs you have – both individual tasks and actual paid employment – the more guilty you feel for focusing on any one of them, because there’s a little voice in your head telling you that you should also be concentrating on all of the others.

I currently have what I have roughly estimated to be about a billion jobs to do, so at the moment I resemble this puppy, if it was weeping and hadn’t slept properly in about a month:

This has completely done a number on my writing. I used to be able to immerse myself in my made-up world and get lost in it. Now, I’m lucky if I manage fifteen minutes before I go into a spiral of “Oh God, why am I doing this when I really should be doing X, Y and Z?” (Of course, when I stop and do X, Y and Z, I feel guilty because I’m not writing).

I have until the end of the month to finish this draft of Sigyn, and I was already panicking that the guilt wouldn’t let me get it done. (Amazingly, panicking about guilt is not a great motivator, and tends to make you lie on your bed stress-eating strawberry pencils instead of knuckling down and doing some work).

So I decided – well, if I can only write for fifteen minutes at a go…let’s just do that.

My current writing routine is to set my phone’s timer for fifteen minutes and just write, no matter how rubbish it might turn out to be. So far, it’s working pretty well. On good days, I shut off the alarm at the fifteen-minute mark and carry on writing. On bad days, I still get to the end of the fifteen minutes – and that’s usually around 300 words, and that’s better than no words at all.

I’m really hoping that some day soon, I’ll be able to get back into that frame of mind where I can write for hours and get lost in the story – because that, more than anything else, is what I love about writing. But until then, if I can only visit my world for fifteen minutes at a time…well, sometimes that’s enough.

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About Alice Nuttall

Alice Nuttall is a caffeine-guzzling knitter who divides her time between Oxford and the various worlds in her head. She is the author of a YA fantasy novel, Spider Circus, and three webcomics, Footloose, Cherry, and Black Market Magic, as well as several short stories.
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