Summer mugginess

Somehow, despite saying after last summer – which involved a busy work period and four weekends on the bounce in August where we were travelling away somewhere or hosting guests – that I wanted to have a much more chilled summer this year, it’s ended up being similarly hectic.

Fortunately/unfortunately work has been quiet during June and July (so I’ve been able to get on with other things, but I’m also a bit broke now).  Fortunately/unfortunately this will not be the case during August as I have two huge projects lined up (more money – yay!  More stuff to do – argh).  However, the house stuff is still ongoing, the now-finished Now! marathon ended up taking up more time towards the end than I thought it would, and Geth and I ended up booking a lot more trips away than we expected.  As such, I find myself doing the whole ‘argh! can’t wait till autumn when I can relax a bit!’ thing yet again – and I shouldn’t wish the summer away, especially when the weather has been so nice this year.

Today is yet another hectic day – I’ll update more fully later this week – so I’ll leave it there.

Oh, and I went swimming again this morning.  Eight lengths this time, although I think I’m actually getting worse!

Back to work…and back to normal

It’s been a great few weekends travelling and seeing friends, but I’m enjoying getting back to normal – it was back to work today, and other than the Blaydon Race this upcoming Saturday, I’m going to be enjoying a quiet few weeks – which means I’ll finally be able to get cracking on the house again!

Maybe by the end of June I’ll have broken the back of it.  Maybe?  I just have to hope nothing else gets in the way work-wise – you never know when you’re a freelancer!


My busy work period is finished!  Unfortunately, it’s taking my brain a while to adjust to the fact that I don’t have to be doing ALL THE THINGS RIGHT NOW and so I reckon it’ll be next week before I can properly relax.

It is nice to have a day off for the first time in a month, though!

Good intentions

Every time I find myself mired in an all-encompassing work project for a few weeks, I always find myself thinking longingly of all the time I will have when I’m done with said work project.  I will use that time for writing!  All the writing!  I will finish the three incomplete novel drafts I’m working on!  I will get back to submitting all my completed ones to agents!  I will write those three poetry collections, and those two stage plays, and that screenplay, and those two non-fiction pitches, and all the short stories in the world!  I will write and write and write!

Except this never happens.  Oh, sure, I get some writing done when I can squeeze a spare hour here and there, but it always seems like there’s something that’s more of a priority, like sorting out the house, or sleeping in, or catching up with one of my daft projects like my ongoing systematic attempt to watch the video of every single UK chart hit of the 1980s in alphabetical order, or reading online forums, or playing video games, or watching TV so I can clear space on the digibox…you get the idea.

At the moment, I’m not doing any of that stuff.  I’m working twelve-hour days, seven days a week, on a client’s project, and so other than work I am sleeping, eating, running, blogging, keeping myself clean and presentable, and that’s it.  And I suppose it makes me wonder: why am I willing to drop everything in my life for weeks at a time to work for someone else, but not for myself?

(It’s not because the clients pay me better.  I mean, they do, but I’m still clinging onto the hope that one day someone will pay me for my own writing, not just my editing of other people’s work, and I will only achieve that if I work hard at it.)

Next week there will be no writing (other than blogging, which I sort of see as different).  There will be catching up of all the essential stuff I’ve been neglecting for the last few weeks, and there will be getting ahead with stuff in preparation for a busy weekend.  There may, however, be planning of writing, which is a beautiful way to feel like you’re making progress when you’re not.

The week after will be the real test – seeing if I can apply the same discipline to ‘normal’ time as I can to a busy work period.  We’ll see how it goes.

Still busy with work

I’m still taken up with my intense work project, so I’m never really sure what day of the week it is at the moment – but the good news is that this is the last week of it.  I’ve still got a lot to do, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel now.

I’m really looking forward to next weekend, as having time to myself on Saturday afternoon will be amazing (volunteering at parkrun on Saturday morning and then racing in Sunderland on Sunday), but I think it’s Monday 14th that will be the nicest, as I’ll be able to have a lie-in for the first time in about five weeks!

Work update

Today was the first day of week three out of four of this particular busy work period.  I’m halfway through!

I’m managing the work quite well now that I’ve got used to the lack of sleep.  I’m also still managing to keep up with my running and blogging, so I’m feeling a lot more balanced and happy than I was last time round.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d still kill for a day where I could just sit on the sofa and stare vacantly into space (not to mention a long soak in the bath…or a lie-in…or any of those other things that I don’t have time for at the moment), but in less than two weeks’ time I will be able to do all of that again. Just have to keep pushing on!

Busy work periods…and how to cope with them

I’m one week into an extremely busy work period at the moment, with one major project plus multiple smaller ones meaning I’m working twelve-hour days, seven days a week.  I have these every so often – it’s just the nature of freelancing – and thankfully it’s never more than a few weeks at a time.  Still, a period like this requires some fairly big coping strategies, and these are the ones I’ve developed:

1. Schedule every last minute

The first thing I always do with a major project is sit down and plot out a schedule for the work up to the deadline, so that I know exactly what will get done when – if I don’t have an idea of this, I find it very stressful.  Sometimes this means that if things take longer than expected, I have to work a bit longer on that particular day, but having plotted everything out means that this is kept to a minimum.

2. Book in some non-negotiable non-work time

By ‘non-negotiable’, I mean things that I can’t back out of.  For this particular project, the busy period happens to coincide with my ongoing mission on this blog to review one Now! compilation a day leading up to 20th July; each review takes me a couple of hours, due to the length of the compilations, so that’s time that I absolutely have to spend doing non-work stuff.  During my last busy work period, which was in October to November, I had NaNoWriMo going on during the latter part, so I had a commitment every day to spend a couple of hours writing fiction.  Writing is nice and relaxing for me, but a less ‘thinky’ non-negotiable thing might be meeting up with friends, such as for the birthday afternoon tea I’m going to in a couple of weeks’ time, or some ‘me time’, such as the vintage fair I’m going to on Sunday (my first vintage fair trip since the house move!  I can’t wait!), or a scheduled class that I pay for every week, such as Slimming World or my Pilates class.  I’m also having to make running a non-negotiable during this particular busy work period, otherwise I’ll struggle with the Sunderland 10k in a few weeks’ time!

3. Postpone all non-essentials

When I’m working twelve-hour work days, other than sleeping, eating and keeping myself clean and presentable, I only have time for work and the scheduled non-negotiables I described above.  Everything else gets shunted to ‘afterwards’.  This generally includes cleaning the house, catching up with TV and the music charts, and, for this particular period, the ongoing project of sorting out the new house.  It just means I will be doing all that stuff with a renewed appreciation when the work period is over!

4. Book in cooking and sleeping time

During a busy work period, looking after myself often takes a back seat.  It’s simply not possible to get as much sleep as I usually would, as I have to be up at the crack of dawn every day to start work, but I make sure I’m at least getting six hours a night.  Similarly, I need to schedule my food preparation time, otherwise I’ll end up just grabbing something unhealthy and feeling worse for it.

These periods are always a bit of a slog, but they are manageable.  Obviously it would be nice if they’d balance out a bit better with the weeks where I don’t have any work at all, but the benefits of being a freelancer are absolutely worth it for me!

The day job

I’ve just finished work for the day, at nearly nine in the evening.  Freelancing can be like that sometimes.

I’ll never complain about it though (well, hardly ever…).  Being in charge of my own time, organising everything myself, liaising with clients on my own terms, being able to work from home – all of that is bliss for me, as I’m a control freak, a hermit, and someone who likes a lie-in.  No, it’s not the best paid job in the world, and I can’t guarantee that heavy work periods will happen at times convenient to me (they almost never do!) but it suits me down to the ground.

Lots of the stuff I read as part of my editing job is absolutely fascinating.  I mainly work for academics, and they all have really interesting niches, usually in history or social science.  I love obscure information about subjects you would never normally think of, and boy oh boy have I learnt a lot of obscure information in the course of my job.

I’m pretty sleepy now after working all day.  But the plus side is that I don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn tomorrow.  Swings and roundabouts!