My mother used to say this to me all the time, especially when it was time for me to clean my room or do some other ghastly piece of housework. I’d usually give her the stock response of, ‘Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow…’ or ‘But, Mum, The A Team is on!’ in fact, anything I could think of to get out of doing my chores.
I never really understood the significance of setting yourself deadlines and targets until I began writing in earnest. I always gave myself the excuse of ‘I’ll do it tomorrow, or the next day or the day after that.’ But when you make the conscious decision to make a concerted effort at becoming a published writer, things like that don’t wash anymore. Putting off until tomorrow is not going to get me published any time soon, and so it is up to me to pull my finger out and get on with things.
But who said becoming a published writer would be easy? Surely if it were straightforward everyone would be doing it?
The simple truth is that most of us are not in the position of being able to concentrate solely on writing, that kind of freedom usually comes with a multi-million best-seller and a five book publishing deal. That means that we poor and unpublished folk have to fit our writing in around the rest of our busy lives and all too often we find ourselves pushing writing to the back of the queue when other things snag our attention. We then tell ourselves that we will write for twice as long tomorrow in order to make up for not writing today, but then something comes up and we don’t manage to get any writing done for a second day. Like a snowball rolling down a hill, the amount of writing we’ve promised ourselves we will make up for becomes larger and larger, until it becomes so daunting that it puts us off completely.
This is one of the reasons that I’ve found having a writing partner incredibly useful. We are not partners in the sense that we are contributing to the same story, we serve to keep each other plodding on, even when the road seems tough. We set each other writing challenges and deadlines and I have found it so much easier to know that I have a tangible goal to work towards. Having a partner keeps your on your toes and can help to lift your spirits when you find yourself flagging. A good writing partner will also beat you around the head with your agreed deadline date and this can help you be more prepared for the day when you find yourself an editor and a publisher. Perhaps ‘beat around the head’ is a bit harsh on my partner, she’s much too nice to do something like that, but I have so much respect for her that I don’t want to disappoint her by missing our pre-arranged cut-off dates for getting certain things done.
We’ve not been partners for long, not in an agreed sense anyway, but she has served to give me real targets to work towards when I might otherwise have begun to put things off until another time. It’s also fun to have someone to share the whole experience with and to know that they are going through pretty much the same things that I am and that they too feel the constraints of time against them.
So thank you to my writing partner and also to my mother, whose wisdom I failed to appreciate all those years ago when she told me to go and clean my room.