Goldilocks Theory applies to writing as much as to planets.
The thing is, I’m half way through two weeks annual leave, and no way at all through the work I had planned on my next book. Don’t worry though (yeah! – like you’d worry about someone on two weeks annual leave). I haven’t been wasting my time. I’ve been going on long dog walks, taking lots of pictures, posting them on Twitter – hell, even starting an Instagram account. So now I’ve got TWO social media mouths to feed. Oh – and I’ve been writing blog posts and poems. And if I start to get stressed about my lack of focus, I’ve been using the Headspace app to meditate my way back to balance. (What did I do before the internet? Float around in a tepid, amniotic liquor of cluelessness and disconnection? You bet.)
You see, part of the problem – no, scratch that – the entire problem, is that too much time can be worse than too little. No time at all is an out-and-out curse, of course, and no-one wants that. But too much, and you’re like Odysseus and the Lotus Eaters, although a much less noble version, where his quest is to write a book for young adults, but he gets distracted by endless RuPaul on Netflix. Because what happens is that you sit down to write the book, but it’s difficult, so you look up at the calendar, and you’re reassured by the succession of nothing much planned, and you think you’ve got PLENTY of time to get the work done, so you drift around eating lotus or whatever, kidding yourself you’re recharging your batteries, when in actual fact your batteries are not just flat but TAKEN OUT ENTIRELY.
So. Calm, calm. In through the nose, out through the mouth.
And ask yourself. What would Goldilocks recommend? (Other than a measure of self-discipline and a proper appreciation of the benefits of routine). Absolutely. Goldilocks would recommend an amount of free time that was just right. And then ten seconds later, she’d be tearing off her wig, like they do on RuPaul when they’re lip-synching for their lives. She’d be diving across the table, scattering porridge bowls everywhere, grabbing a handful of your funky, unwashed t-shirt, dragging you into her face and shouting: Just write!
I mean, she may be a character in a children’s fable, but she’s only human.