Saturday, July 16, 2011

Small moves, Ellie

May there be a God and when he's done sorting everything else out, may this God take a minute to forgive me: I'm being organised and it's working. I want to tell you about it and I'm not sure whether it's to get it off my chest, whether it's ask you to glare at me until I stop being lazy, or whether I'm hoping to groom you into joining this Organisation.

I honestly hate this in me. I used to enjoy writing in the middle of the night, writing an inch before the deadline, writing 50 pages in day when absolutely necessary. I used to just enjoy the night: going to bed before 1am feels sinfully wrong. It's a good way to work, it conjures up the kind of sound and furious action that I so relished in newsroom writing.

But it was always reacting to something, some deadline set by someone else. Things were getting done but not enough and not well enough and I would always be having ideas for projects I just couldn't find the time to do. I would forever be busy and I mean forever: there was never, not ever a point when I'd be able to say I was done for the day. I enjoyed that, I still enjoy it now, but sheer harsh, cold self-examination is never kind. Last year was very successful for me but it is easy to see that it should've been much more so: perhaps not in terms of what writing I got produced, perhaps not financially, but in terms of me and what I was able to create.


January the 1st was 196 days ago.

I know this because for every one of those 196 days I've written for at least an hour. If the day was spent writing on Radio Times or Doctor Who, for example, I still wrote something else for an hour afterwards.

That's all. Not a big deal, not really worth shouting about, but...

Because of this unbroken pattern, since the start of the year I have - wait, I haven't worked this out yet and it may depress me; grief, I hope it's a lot of work... okay... well... it's not bad. Since 1 January I've written a four-part Doctor Who audio (recorded the other week, due out some time next year), half a new stage play that I abandoned on account of it being rubbish, a half-hour film, a one-hour film, a 15-minute sitcom, a one-hour telly spec. I also wrote 90,000 words of a novel but threw away 40,000 before sending it to Paul the Agent Guy.

Plus I'm only about 2,000 words into my book but I'm running the research for it in a rinkydinky FileMaker Pro database of mine and currently I figure I must've written about 10,000 of the words in that. I suppose I also wrote and shot a couple of How To videos for friends - I'm easier to bear when you can pause or fastwind me - and probably made about eight or ten pitches to people.

I can't work out how many pages or words I've revised on top of this but I know, for instance, that I began the year with a substantial rewrite of a stage play which is now with a producer who's raising cash to stage it. At a rough guess, I've at least revised 300 pages of my own scripts. And if you tell me that I've read fewer than 2,000 pages of other people's scripts, I'll believe you but want to see your working out.

I don't know.

Doesn't matter, really. A lot or a little, worthwhile or rubbish, all that's important is that it is geometrically more than I wrote last year or the year before. And more of it is out there getting produced or commissioned than before, too.

If I decide that this is a lot of writing, then it sounds like I'm saying quantity is key.

I think I'm saying quantity is key.

Since I cannot dare speak to the quality, I can at least look at how there's that abandoned stage play, for instance: last year I might've had the idea but not got around to it. Now I've tried it, I know it doesn't work, it's gone.

And this one-hour-per-day minimum is brilliant and exciting and satisfying when you're in the middle of a script and you know you can't wait for the next unbroken hour on that project. It's still pretty brilliant when you know what bit you have to do in that hour and you're afraid of it. It's hard when it's already 1am and you have't started.

But it's only actually awful when you're between projects and have not the faintest idea what to do but you won't cheat.

I call those Forced Hours. An hour where at the start you have zero in your head but you're going to bloody well sit there and work until you've got something. I've had about four of these in the 196 days so far and each time I've ended up with a new idea. Last year I had the problem that I never got around to ideas, now I'm trying to get through them quickly so that I can get to the next ones I've now got waiting. I have a queue. Can't believe it. A queue.

I can cope with this level of organisation. There's a line in Carl Sagan's Contact that Angela and I often quote to one another: "Small moves, Ellie". Doing a little bit often appears to work for me and I'm okay with that. I can feel a drama precedent in it, so long as I don't examine it too closely. So long as I don't, for instance, blog about it.

Anyway, there's a problem. By May I was aware that I hadn't yet skipped a day and it didn't look like I was going to. So I added to it. Can't tell you what, but as well as this hour writing I added a mandatory daily half-hour on this other thing. Then in June I was commissioned to write a book and it was one that would take a lot of research work, so I added again: half an hour every day on the book too.

These two half hours are not enough for their particular jobs but guaranteeing to do them means I start them and almost always burst the measure, spend longer than the thirty minutes. Same with the hour's writing.

But setting a limit and being able to see that it is working over time, it means there have been five nights this year when I honestly felt I was done for the evening and could relax.

That was horrible.

So that's a problem I haven't solved yet.

Also, I used to live in my Todo list, constantly chewing over deadlines and pitches, yet I'd only glance at my calendar when my days at Radio Times changed around. Now for some reason the work I'm doing takes a lot longer and means me blocking out times to do this, periods to be here, days I must be elsewhere. I spend ages dragging appointment blocks around my week's calendar like I'm playing Slow Tetris.

Suddenly I'm really good at estimating how long a job will take. I can tell you what time I'll finish today. I can clear a hole in the week and know by when I'll have made up that time or that work.

Except the hour per day. That's inviolate. Sacrosanct.

And of course I recommend it or I wouldn't be bending your ear about this madness. Only, if you do this, if you do find that it works for you, promise me you won't start your day's two hours at 1am. I have fallen asleep while writing my hour that late at night; you look again in the morning and your very nightmares are on the page. You've written whole scenes, huge arguments, between characters you've never heard of about topics you don't understand. It's borderline psychotic and if it's funny sometimes, there are other moments when it is profoundly, frighteningly disturbing.

So, you know, there are some wrinkles in this plan.

But I'll work them out.

Probably an hour at a time.



gnasher said...

Excellent stuff, glad it's working for you, and well done for having the internal discipline to regiment yourself.

Tell me how you did the last bit and you'll have a friend for life ;-)


William Gallagher said...


And, er, I'll get back to you on that.


Laura Cousins said...

I once took an overdose of a friend's diet pills (hey, I was young) and stayed up writing - literally - all night long. Whatever I did has vanished in the intervening years, but your saying that "your very nightmares are there" reminded me of the incident, because what I wrote was pretty frightening.

Currently I find myself reading a book called "The Happiness Project" by a woman in New York called Gretchen Rubin. She has a blog, and she too advocates doing something EVERY DAY :

- which is advice I have heard so many times that it is almost meaningless to me. I love what you are doing in iCal and may well have to steal the notion from you in order to assess the patterns of my days and see where I am 'losing' time. That way, I can gain it back again.

L xx

William Gallagher said...

Well, i take it back: spam is useful. Because while I didn't get a notification of your real, genuine, ackshual comment, I did just now get one over some spam attempt to comment. Came on to get rid of that and found all this.

You're recommending a book by a New York writer. I am immediately off to look into it.

But I should say first, just in case you were at all serious about iCal, I spent some time rigging up that shot with entirely fake appointments. Because half the real ones were dull and half shouldn't be shown very widely, so.

Anonymous said...

The loss was estimated to be more than 1 million dollars. [url=]sac lune vanessa bruno [/url] Not too happy. The black brant (B. It can be a comely decent be absolutely good during the course of options, rein Bob Harbaugh talked to Court docket monday in move up of rattling on the people who had Four sickly word encyclopaedic net members, each which almost always will eat to be be capable to use Baltimore's for that intellect so next gameplay? aat almshouse along the space fully of Monday, January.
Through black towns, African-Americans were able to live relatively free from opression and obtain support from thier neighbors and friends so that they might escape the claws of the racist masses and have an easier time of living in a world filled with social injustices. [url=]canada goose[/url] You would like to find out what MLSP is all about. [url=]canada goose[/url]
[url=]canada goose jacket[/url] Although Weebly doesn't (yet?) have dedicated multi-language support, I found that the copy site function actually made it very easy to replicate the site I'd originally written in English, in French - all I had to do was rewrite the text and change the page titles and meta tags, while the design, basic navigation structure and the images remained the same. [url=]replica beats by dre for sale[/url]

Anonymous said...

One of the main reasons that the Bulldog is such a favored breed is that they are so easy to take care of. [url=]canada goose outlet[/url] To any eyewitness, it would have appeared that he deliberately assassinated the bird.. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The next day you will have something different..
the small differences between Läther and the DiscReet releases in mind, it is possible to state that Läther is the most complete, yet eclectic, package - regardless if it was conceived before, after or during the period of legal turmoil. [url=]canada goose jackets[/url] I missed out on so many school functions and important things because of my stupid job. [url=]canada goose sale[/url]
[url=]canada goose[/url] Ambiance and locationHere the place that the public library needs to sit up and take notice! Where do you go not just to read, but to sit in fine comfortable, clean chairs? Sip a cup of coffee and eat a cookie while reading? Hear a live string quartet softly play in the background? It ain my library! No food, no drinks, no noise, no nothing. [url=]beats by dre 80 off[/url]

Anonymous said...

The recordings on the album - various ensembles and bands, studio and live-material - date from between 1969 and 1977. [url=]cabas vanessa bruno[/url] Near the south end, you may see nesting Canada geese. You give me some cold hard cash and I give you a machine that will mess up a snowbank sumthin fierce. One of the apes appeared to have been hit and rolled into a deep ravine.
Most mild to moderate compression fractures are treated with immobilization or braces for anywhere from six weeks to three months, notes Dr. [url=]canada goose[/url] I nudge Britta. [url=]canada goose whistler parka[/url]
[url=]canada goose jacket[/url] It really a many could fantasy they can very own a couple of christian louboutin wedges, the sort they will notice around the reddish floor covering, since used simply by their particular idols and also trend icons just like Darlene Jessica Parker, Victoria Beckham, Angelina Jolie, Megan Monk as well as the some other feminine celebrities that have produced any popularity regarding by themselves for trend alternatives. [url=]buy knock off beats by dre[/url]

Anonymous said...

Yes, retraining is critical if it's sincere, but we need to look deeper and understand there has to be a better effort beginning at K through 4. [url=]Sac vanessa bruno[/url] Zunächst einmal möchte ich sagen, tolles Blog! Ich hatte eine kurze Frage, ich möchte fragen, ob es Ihnen nichts ausmacht. The resources available to the Chicago gangs were limited, however, and it was not possible for them to carry out the same function in Washington. However it may very well cause you or someone close to you to lose their job for a net gain for planet of ZERO..
If you're lucky, they will leave you alone. [url=]canada goose jacket[/url] Bottom LineFor a man who wears a watch, a bracelet should be worn on the opposite arm. [url=]canada goose whistler parka[/url]
[url=]canada goose online[/url] Baah! What do I mean by history Maybe it a phenomenon of the sad google-whacking age in which we live that research is carried out at a keyboard, occasionally picking out an interesting nugget, but, as in The BoL, ostensibly raiding internet forums, picking up unrelated connections and putting them together to form an incoherent, silly whole. [url=]beats by dre solo headphones sale[/url]

Anonymous said...

However, not everyone is concerned about this of Disaster. [url=]Sac vanessa bruno[/url] Verkligen, hitta 1 av de b och d goda Canada Goose Trillium Parka lager skid en klassisk bra att f och g l Tidigare till man k f mat du borde uppm mycket av dina f och dessutom komponenter. This is where many goods are exported and imported from other states and countries. At the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, we are working to create a future without breast cancer.
Not being able to collect series I really like and was not able to import since I was not importing back then like I'm today. [url=]canada goose parka[/url] As you can clearly see, there are a lot of reasons for being motivated to sell quickly. [url=]canada goose sale[/url]
[url=]canada goose on sale[/url] it is easy to get them Christian Louboutin Hola Chica Flat Taupe Outlet for a tremendous worth by choosing a specific wholesale worth offer! internet based,So as to experiment with to to that, you will probably should make contact with the corporate and come across all necessary data from them,If you're not inside the trend trade. [url=]beats by dre mall[/url]

Anonymous said...

When glaciers retreat, they leave streams and lakes behind: The Matanuska River is a collection of melted glacier water that runs among a bed of gray silt, creating a braided appearance. [url=]Doudoune Canada Goose[/url] "He had a huge heart. Internal conflicts and mismanagement within the company caused it to be in financial trouble. It ranges in elevation from 300m to 4300m above sea level..
Down from the washing liquid to remove, clean, tile in the plate with a soft brush, dipped in cleaning fluid from the inside out gently scrub. [url=]canada goose chilliwack bomber[/url] So, even though he failed to contend with those 2,000+ point-getters, he was an innovator, and thus, one of the greatest players of all time.. [url=]canada goose sale[/url]
[url=]canada goose toronto factory[/url] Larry, I've made this response in my followup post:Several people made posts or commented on the blog saying that they had gotten great gas mileage (one poster got just over 170 mpg!) while using P That's great! A couple of things to look at in those results, if you really want to understand the long term sustainability of P 1. [url=]beats by dr dre outlet online[/url]

Anonymous said...

All human wisdom is summed up in two words ?C wait and hope.

Anonymous said...

There is no disputing about tastes.

Anonymous said...

ugg france bzdfdssw ugg pas cher boqvanmp bottes ugg wxihhnth ugg australia nywnpaoa bottes ugg pas cher lfgvqcdy ugg

Anonymous said...

ghd nz wpzpwkka ghd nz sale axmnccie ghd rmuipxsu

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye. Thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye. Thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

cheap toms shoes vkqqttgw cheap toms iakdhuqy toms coupon code vomflmkl toms on sale lueyuirf toms outlet hvlzshlo toms sale xggygvik toms shoes on sale bxvqiwxp toms shoes sale tnuxdjaa toms shoes tlfxzdxa