Going with the Flow
So, this morning I sat down at my desk as usual, loads to do, gorgeous sunshine streaming through the window, and I just couldn’t get on with anything. Know the feeling? I bet you do. Sometimes you’re raring to go (last Thursday it somehow went from almost 11am to 1.30pm in the blink of an eye because I was so absorbed in some marketing stuff). But not today. So instead of faffing about I went and got my hair done. Here I am, skiving off…
As an author, I always have lots of things that I’m juggling, which might include working on a new idea for a series, editing a final draft of a novel, creating an author Facebook page, updating my website, organising school visits and events, setting up comps, getting new projects off the ground… They all involve different activities and skills – things like quiet working, thinking and note-writing, learning new processes, contacting people and talking things through, gathering information. I’m not very patient, to put it mildly, and I always want everything done and dusted, start to finish, now, now, NOW! And of course it’s fantastic when you really move things forward – a good session on an edit, an informative phone call or e-mail – but sometimes you have to wait.
Which I’m not very good at.
But I’ve learnt over the years of being an author, and a person in general, that waiting’s actually a really vital part of the process. You need to give things time to mature and develop – to cook. It’s like making a lovely hearty stew (honestly, it is – stick with me on this!). I think of all the busyness of getting a new project or activity in motion as like chopping up the veg and browning the meat (or soaking the beans, for the veggies!), and making the stock for a stew. Which is vital, obviously – but so is the bit where you just sit back and let it cook. And as a watched pot never boils (apparently) take yourself off on a skive while you’re waiting.
So, say you’ve done that – then how do you know when to make your next move on something? How do you know when it’s time? I’d say, follow your gut instinct. Sit quietly, or go for a walk, and ask yourself, ‘Is it time to go forward on this or that project? What’s the best next step? Is there anyone I need to speak to or hear back from now who can help me move things on?’
I really do think there’s a right time for everything, and I’m a big believer in setting things up and then following the path to see where it takes you. (Hang on – paths? you’re thinking. I thought we were talking about stews! Sorry, I like to mix my metaphors!) Talking to people, gathering information, and those strange little coincidences that pop up from nowhere could all help you on your way. And if you take time to let things cook, and don’t be too focussed on just one way of doing things, you won’t miss any of the interesting opportunities that come up along the way.
Oh no, look! I didn’t skive off after all. Well, not completely – I wrote this! So, today I’m officially giving you permission to drop the to-do list and go off on a skive – even if it’s just an hour or so. You never know what it might bring you!