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Being Kind To Future Julie

This morning I was working on a non-fiction project that has a real deadline and real paycheck attached.

After a couple of days of feeling under the weather it was a real joy to wake up feeling fine and energetic today.

But I did not let that fool me. I knew that there was still a real danger of me allowing myself to get derailed, stuck or caught in a loop of procrastinatoin if I wasn’t vigilant.

So I did all the things I’m supposed to do: I got dressed in clothes that are semi-professional looking; I put on my tiny, desktop humidifier with the hinoki essential oils (which Is supposed to make me smarter, but which in reality is just something I’m using to trigger my brain to understand that We Are In Work Mode); I gathered all my notes and decided to focus only in a certain slice of the project; I activated Freedom to stop me accidentally surfing Facebook; and I set a timer for 45 minutes, to create some urgency and to promise myself a break. I even made a coffee date with a friend for this afternoon, so that I knew I couldn’t catch up on any missed time, later.

Sometimes all this works, and sometimes it doesn’t,

Today I decided to try another technique I’ve seen in productivity manuals. I tried to focus on Future Julie and how happy she would be when she has a finished draft that she can let sit for a few days. I thought about how grateful Future Julie would be when not struggling under the weight of a huge amount of work, and how happy she would be that she could work on what remains, with a lightness that would not otherwise be there. I picture Future Julie finishing up a really kickass article because she wasn’t horribly stressed.

And today, at least, it  worked.

 

 

Future Julie Thanks Past Julie

[NB The Amazon links in this article are affiliate links]

Everybody Needs A Garrett

I’m working in my garrett today.

20140312-101315.jpg

I highly recommend seeking out some cheap co-working office space to rent if you are trying to take your writing seriously and have the means. I also recommend biting the bullet and taking as little stuff with you as you can get away with. There have been days when I haven’t come here because I’d “need” all the notes I’ve been gathering for four years about the novel-in-progress, or because I think I *might* want to work on admin tasks that really call for the big computer, or, or or…

What happens, when I actually get here, is that I pick a task (a short story or a blog post series or the novel or some outreach to potential interview subjects) and I work on that thing. Until it’s done. Or until I run out of time.

Can you imagine?

I focus on one task.

And can you guess what happens next?

Stuff.

Stuff happens. I achieve things. Word counts grow. Ideas are put into practice. Progress is made.

#HeadsDesk

So the family might not get a lovingly slow-cooked dinner tonight (“Oh, squirrel! I could make keema in the slow-cooker. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about dinner later, only I don’t have beef, so I’ll just run to the shop and buy that and mix all the spices and put the keema on before I start writing and oh! ‘Nother Squirrel! I could whip all the sheets off the beds and put them in the washer before I go, so that they’ll be ready to go in the dryer when I get back. Look at me! I’m so efficient! That’ll leave me lots of guilt-free time to write. But before I do any of that, let me email the tax lady, find the tax documents and call the doctor, just to clear those things off my to-do list so that I can have a guilt-free time to write. And squirrel! Wait, how did it get to be 2:44pm and why are my children coming home soon?”)

Instead I am at my paid-for-and-potentially-peopled-by-other-working-folks garrett, thinking about how much I pay per minute to be here (not really) and how I should really be thinking about doing something writing related if only so that, should someone else ask me what I’m working on, I can smile and be honest.

And yes, this blog counts. It’s my warm-up writing, my Morning Pages.

Now, back to the long-overdue novel-in-progress.

Best Job In The World

Sometimes being a stay-at-home mom is really really tough.

Those are the days where everybody is fighting, nobody is sleeping and you haven’t showered, talked to another adult or had a moment to yourself for as long as you can remember.

Then there are days when it snows just enough…

Just Enough Snow

And the temperature gets up above freezing so you spend a couple of hours building a snow fort

Snow Fort I

or two…

Gregor Behind Snowfort II

and teaching your four year old how to make a really big snowball…

…or a snowman.

Snowy!

And you end up with some impressive hat hair…

Hat Hair

And the only people who laugh at you are laughing with you.

Best job in the world!

Hand Shoe

Hand Shoes

Yarn: Patons Kroy Socks Stripes Colour: 55614. Needles: 5xbamboo Takumi dpns 3.25mm

This started out as a sock, but I made a mistake with the heel and put it aside for a few days. That sock had been conceived as my auto-pilot, thinking -about-other-things project, and I was mightily annoyed at it for demanding more attention that I was prepared to give it (especially as it was my second attempt, my first one having been too small. I really need to use patterns more!). It was in danger of being left on the naughty step for ever.

Then G’s other mittens’ cuffs got all stretched out after an outing in the snow, and I decided, hey, the snoozing sock could easily become a mitten. So it has.

[This bit serves as pattern notes to myself, so that I can make the second one the same size — something I’m incredibly skilled at not doing!]

Turns out I cast on 45 stitches, not 44, so I did a 2×1 rib for 20 rows.rounds then switched to stocking stitch for another 20.
Then, just for fun, I started adding 2 purl stitches at the start and middle of the round. Did that for six rows, then continued it while I decreased every other row to 12 (13 stitches) then grafted the top.

Picked up 8 stitches on either side of the 8th row to knit an afterthought thumb and will unpick when finished.Hand Shoes
Thumb is on the edge, so the mittens will be ambidextrous.

[end pattern notes to myself]

It’s turning out nicely. Hope it fits him. Maybe I’ll finish up the thumb and try it on him when he comes home from school instead of  starting the second one immediately then cursing my ‘bad luck’ when neither fits him.

(Hooray! She can be taught!)

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

-Seneca (5 BC-65AD)

I Feel Pretty

Ooo, a couple of weeks ago TheMama had a giveaway on her blog to celebrate her upcoming etsy store. I was the first lucky commenter out of the bag (bowl) and was promised the beautiful necklace I had seen on her blog.

Well, yesterday, this arrived:
My Prize

I opened it up. Oo, the suspense.

The Suspense

And here it is:

And Here It Is

Pretty.

Craft

Happy.

Happy

It really is beautifully made. I’ve flirted with beading and wire just enough to appreciate how well-made this is. The curves thrill me and I’ve just this moment figured out why. They remind me of ink on a page, the kind of thing people draw when they’ve just filled their fountain pen, or scroll work done by monks, or margin doodles Shakespeare might have made. It’s a simple and ancient pattern that makes me think of writing and books, two of my favourite things.

It was beautifully packaged, too, and got here reallyl quickly (after I eventually sent her my address).

Thanks TheMama!

I’m utterly thrilled. Not only do I love the necklace (which is just the perfect length for my tastes) but I won it!