This post is likely to get me pillified, villoried and shot down in flames, but I want to talk about finding time not to write.

Writers talk incessantly about how to carve enough writing time out of each day. It’s our primary concern. I know a mother of two who gets up at 6am to type 300 words before breakfast. Another mate writes while he’s on the toilet. He says it’s the only time he’s not disturbed. One successful writer managed to create his historical epic, bit by bit, on the commuter train.

I work part-time, I’m child-free, I have an understanding partner and three dogs who don’t care if the house is a pit. I have loads of time to write.

So no, this is not another take on procrastination.

I want to talk about time out.

If I’m not teaching, walking the dogs or cooking, I’m writing.

By “writing”, I mean planning my novel structure, commenting on people’s blogs, reading Bookseller updates, critiquing colleagues’ synopses, fiddling about on Twitter, researching Rioja wines (both theoretically and practically), trawling Facebook, reorganising my To-Do list, trying to get interviews for the magazine, reading background material and occasionally, once in a while, actually writing.

I watch TV about once a week because of that low-level guilty murmur: Turn-It-Off-And-Write-Cos-This-Is-Utter-Shite.

I do Domestic Goddess once a week (hoover, dust and cook something quick and dirty). Because Quentin Crisp was wrong. The dust does get worse.

The rest of the time, I “write”.

It’s my passion, my calling, my hobby, my job – Monday to Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I’m never off duty.


Human Dynamo writer called me with bad news. RSI. All the writing and clicking and typing and Tweeting has caused her an injury. She must rest that forearm, hand and wrist until her muscles recover. NO WRITING. NO BROWSING. NO COMPUTER. This woman is bursting with ideas and creativity, so to be unable to write is beyond frustrating. I winced with her.


A tiny secret part of me was envious. What if I couldn’t write? What if all I was allowed to do was read? Imagine not having to keep up with all the latest on publishers’ collusion over the agency model. Imagine being exempt from critting, commenting and keeping up with the Hockings. Imagine taking some time out.


Human Dynamo came over on Thursday and we made a video. Yes, it was about writing. And of course it involved editing and tinkering about on the screen. It also involved laughing. (Coming soon to a screen near you.)

But I spent an entire day not thinking about my book, my social profile, my blog or me, me, me and my writing. Crime Writer came back from her hols full of recommendations for books and scenery. Was I jealous? Yes! I need a break.

From now on, one day a week, I’m on holiday. I will not “write”. I will read classics in foreign languages, discover Norwegian music, observe woodpeckers, talk to non-writer friends, cycle into the forest to pick wild garlic, sew patchwork quilts, watch documentaries by Werner Herzog and cook stuff involving fennel.

And then, naturally, I’ll blog about it.