Time the Ever-Rolling Stream

I had a few things on my mind to write about, but none of them quite amounted to a post. What-I-thought-after-reading-part-of-a-book-on-writing-but-not-a-review-yet; Annoying-things-writing-teachers-say-that-make-you-feel-guilty-and-defensive-because-you-know-they’re-right; and Something-or-other-else-that-escapes-my-mind-and-therefore-probably-wasn’t-going-to-be-that-interesting.

What I can’t write about is all the writing I’ve been doing.
It’s not so much procrastinating as Doing Other Stuff. I have my hobbies – mostly sewing in summer, knitting in winter – and occasional scraps of social life. Plus of course housework and those pesky needs for food and sleep that keep showing up. Not to mention the Dreaded Day Job.

If only the Dreaded Day Job featured such elegant desk work.

But the main problem is the mornings.

I’ve mentioned before now that I am not by any means a morning person. And yet I have made the habit of getting up half an hour earlier of a morning to get some writing done.

OK, so that was the theory.

Strangely enough, it’s not the getting up early that’s the problem. When I feel sluggish I just remind myself of those smug Marines and I drag myself out of bed into the sort-of-dawning day.

It’s the getting things done that isn’t working.

As I frequently heard in my younger days (and we could fill a blog here with annoying-things-mothers-say-that-make-you-feel-guilty-and-defensive-because-you-know-they’re-right), Work Expands To Fill The Time Allotted To It.

So my hard-won sleep-deprived time is not turning into writing time.
Where am I losing it?

I get up, I get dressed, I brush my hair and put it up, I observe the Community Obedience, I eat breakfast, I pack a lunch, and that’s it.

All this used to take me from 7:15 to 8:00, when I’d venture out onto the path outside my door – which according to Mr B. Baggins could take me anywhere, but nine times out of ten (all right, ten out of fourteen) takes me to work.

These days I get out of bed at 6:45, and all the aforementioned takes me to about 7:45 (leaving at 7:55 because I now walk to work).

How does half an hour turn into ten minutes? How????
Either there’s something disturbingly quantum going on in my house (losing a minute of time every time I go through a doorway??) or I’m squandering it somehow.

san remo cathedral by firewind 2

So, my little squandees, how do we combat the loss of time? (Besides getting those doorways checked out.)

Basically there are two choices here: (ok, three, but I’m ruling out going back to bed on Marine grounds) work harder or work smarter.

If there’s one thing I like less than getting up early, it’s getting up early and rushing around like a headless chook, so smarter it is.

I’ve already come up with the time-saving devices of laying out my clothes the night before, and subduing three feet of gnarly hair while I wait for the kettle saucepan (kettle defunct) to boil for that all-important first cup of tea. (Yes, my hair has feet in the mornings. That’s how bad it is.)

The problem, as with so many of my flashes of genius, is that I don’t remember to do any of it, particularly the next morning as I stagger around in a befuddled daze trying to figure out how many socks makes blue.

Devising a way to make sure my future-self remembers something my present-self has thought up is a conundrum which seems to require time-travel until you realise that this is the way humans normally function in time.

Time Travel Haikus 5-7-5

And then it’s just depressing.

So how do I do it?

Am I going to have to leave letters for myself on the kitchen table, like some Hollywood-simplified version of sustained memory loss? (Yes, I have seen Memento. No, I am not going to tattoo “Brush hair while water boils” on my arm. Or anywhere else, for that matter.)

Perhaps if I’m very lucky, I will only need to leave messages for myself until the habits form. 40 days, they say – that gives me til Easter. (Perhaps a henna tattoo would be sufficient.)

Now all I have to do is remember to set things up for myself the night before, which means doing it before I get tired, which means going to bed at a reasonable hour – just like your mother always told you.

So, time the ever-rolling stream having rolled the best part of the evening away, I’d better go and get on with it.

Only time will tell whether I’ll remember tomorrow to boil my hair in clothes while waiting to lay out the saucepan.

3 Replies to “Time the Ever-Rolling Stream”

  1. So why have a morning time? This seems to be making it more difficult than it needs to be, almost perverse. Let’s say going to bed at 9:30 is a conscientious early night. So ‘stay up late’ then by making yourself a drink, digging out a small but scrummy little treat e.g. Lindt chocolate, and sitting down to write 9:30 to 10:30 seems more likely to be productive.
    So you are that much more of a zombie in the morning, at least the writing happened!
    If other activities would be curtailed by this then have other activities in the morning when higher functions are not feasible. Zombies can make a drink, toast the bread and satisfy other appetites. Higher functions happen when brain more likely to be engaged to body.
    The chocy is to give you that little zap of energy and to get you over the hump of actually sitting down and doing it. Or is that against the rules?

    1. O, for a budget that would stretch to a regular supply of chocolate!
      There are several practical problems with the late-night concept (one of which you have mentioned).
      The biggest problem is that for all my fondness for late nights, my creative brain has usually clocked off and wandered down the pub for a drink by 9pm. (My best brain-hours are, sadly, occupied by the Dreaded Day Job.) On those occasions when I do get going, I generally need someone to forcibly make me stop before 3am, and am no good for anything the following day.
      The other main problem is that while zombies can make toast (assuming they remember to check that the toaster is plugged in), they are sadly deficient when it comes to getting to work on time.
      However! in the spirit of scientific inquiry, we shall experiment with this “Chocolate Zombie” method of yours and report back. Watch this space.

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