Some time ago I wrote a small non-fiction book titled “The Solo Squid: How to Run a Happy One-Person Business”. In it I shared the “squisdom” I had acquired over twenty-five years of working alone, and to augment it I post “Squisdom for today” twice or three times a week on Twitter and Facebook. But in recent weeks I have not been happy at all at work – for obvious reasons – and over the weekend I realised that there were two bits of my own advice that might help.
Firstly, in the book I make much of the fact that we each have our own preferred working pattern. I am an early bird – much more creative in the morning and then fit only for admin and filing by the end of the day, while my husband is pretty much the reverse. And yet I have persisted for months now with doing my day job, well, during the day, and then turning to my fiction writing in the evening – when my brain has turned to mush. As an experiment this week I am turning it upside-down: I do some writing first thing and then get on with my day job. (I appreciate that it is a luxury for me to be able to decide when I do what, but that is one of the many benefits of being a Solo Squid – you can arrange your own working timetable.)
And secondly, we all know how off-putting it can be to tackle a large project, and in “The Solo Squid” I recommend breaking things down into digestible chunks – don’t say (as I have been saying…) “I must write this book”, but rather say “I must write for thirty minutes”. Much more realistic, much more achievable, and much more satisfying – in that you can say every day “I wrote for thirty minutes”, whereas you cannot very often say “I wrote a book”.
So I am putting both bits of my own advice into practice: I am spending the first thirty minutes of every working day on my fiction writing. So far so good – I’ve managed three days, and already I’ve written for ninety minutes more than I managed last week.