The work-work balance.

I’m on annual leave from my day job at the moment, but that won’t stop your weekly blog post from being delivered.

From Friday to Sunday, I planned to have three late nights at the T in The Park music festival. Then tonight, I’ll be running a writers’ open-mike before seeing a friend’s band in town. Tomorrow, I’m up early doors for the launch of Go Set a Watchman at Waterstone’s – Please note, warn the organisers, Harper Lee will not be in attendance – then a play by MLitt students at night, with a day of writing in between.

The rest of the week is packed in a similar fashion. The only thing that didn’t happen was Sunday at the festival, but I made sure to fill the time with more writing.

But why not rest up? Because as I’ve become older, I’ve realised that being idle doesn’t suit me. I won’t stop unless I absolutely have to, otherwise I would never manage to do anything. To demonstrate this, imagine I had to go to the Post Office and send a parcel.

If that were the only task I needed to do all day, I might wake up at 7am, realise there were two hours until the Post Office opened, start doing something else and be distracted by it until midday, tell myself there were five hours left and do something else to fill the time, and be distracted by that instead. The net result is that the parcel wouldn’t be posted.

On the other hand, let’s suppose the parcel was just one more thing I needed to fit in. I might go to work at 8am, leave the office at 4pm, visit the Post Office, then head to the gym and crack on with writing when I returned home. Net result: I’ve done my task.

It’s unfortunate that almost all UK employees are required to take 5.6 weeks of leave every single year, as I would be far more productive without a break, and I’m sure the economy would benefit too. If I ever reached a stage when I was able to be a novelist full-time, I would probably still rise at the same hour as I currently do and churn out a target number of words over a certain number of hours.

Stephen King has this one right: he produces 2000 words every morning, including his birthday and holidays, and spends time in the afternoons catching up on his correspondence. And that’s why you’re receiving this blog post as normal, and next week, and the next, until I no longer feel productive by producing them.

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