And no work done today, either. That’s part of the thing with deadlines: they’re a stopwatch, not a pedometer. It’s all very well to say ‘get X done by Y’, but quite another to say ‘I have done X out of Y’, and if you can incorporate both, so much the better.
I mean my current task of writing synopses and reading chapter endnotes is hardly strenuous enough to require much more unitising. I did it once before; this is just a do-over for better accuracy, and the last time I did it I was finished in a couple of hours. But okay. I get what’s happening. So I’ll roll with it, for now, just to humour myself. I have 28 endnotes to read, each being around 500 words, and two days to do it in. That’s 14 a day if I split it down the middle, but I also have to write the other synopsis, the one with my Ideas and which includes the gaps in my Vision, an honest representation of what I Know this story Should Be. So basically I’m looking to read all the chapter end-notes tomorrow and write up that synopsis, and then write the other synopsis the day after. Which might well take a day, because I’m not quite sure how to write that synopsis with the gaps in it.
There is another thing, though, which I had more or less totally forgotten about until I realised that this was going to be me diving back into actual work. One of the most important things that I learnt while I was drafting was that if I missed a day – and sometimes I missed much more than just a day – beating myself up about it not only didn’t help, but it actually just made things worse. And having deadlines, at university at least, only compounded that stress.
So along with the deadline, the unitising and the accountability wall-planner, I also need, for lack of a better word, kindness. To just accept that what happens happens, and to do the most important thing with any job: keep going. Missed a day? Fine. Mark it off, let it go, and keep going. Otherwise it starts a backlog of negativity and your head becomes a really toxic workplace, and you really need your head for writing, as it turns out. It pays to keep it clear.
The most disappointing things about this is that it comes with the proviso of me accepting that I might actually be writing this book for another year before it’s finished. Or longer. And I want it done sooner than that. I’m afraid that if I don’t get it done by the end of the year, unless I move so fast that the ground burns up underneath me, I’ll get so swamped with everything else – meaning either study or work, whichever turns out to be the more viable option – that I’ll go from moving steadily to moving slowly, and from moving slowly to stopping dead. It’s happened before.
But that is the only way I know how to work – not just as in ‘do a job’, but as in ‘succeed at a job’. By letting it go, and keeping going, until it is done. Which will be … whenever. I remember using deadlines for the first draft of Tallulah – and they were helpful. And never so helpful as when I got rid of them altogether. But, while they were in place, they did work, combined with a daily word-count. So the sooner I get through this very difficult-to-measure work, the sooner I can, hopefully, move on to something more quantitative – something with numbers. Not just ‘do X’.
Another part of my hesitation is the question of what happens if I finish early? And I mean yes, obviously there’s the ‘move on to the next step’ answer, but I’ve only got two steps. I don’t know what else to do after these two steps are done.
This is why the idea of a full rewrite is so appealing; at least I know how to do that, how to measure and keep track of it. I don’t know how to do this managerial stuff. But So far I’ve done okay just working things out by myself …
Just let it go, and keep going.
And probably more Writing While Writing. It is a little bit silly how useful that’s been.
For now, it’s been a day where I did no work, and that’s okay. It’s on record now. It’s part of the process. Accountability has been assigned.