Posted in Personal life, Writing

What To Do When There Aren’t Enough Hours in the Day

Cover image of Tristram Shandy book showing man facing grim reaper in skeletal form
Confronting the fact that our time is limited

As a compulsive writer, I sometimes find it stressful that I never have enough time to write everything I want, either on paper (where my fiction writing first takes shape) or on my blogs.

Besides this Young By Name blog, I have a new(ish) book blog at and a book marketing advice blog for authors,, not to be confused with the author advice blog that I edit for the Alliance of Independent Authors at

This morning, for example, I’ve been staring at a list of topics and events I need to write up while they’re still fresh in my mind, including recent writers’ festivals that I’ve attended and some social occasions. I know that another day will go by before I manage to make a start on them thanks to some pressing deadlines for some paid freelance work.

On the other side of my study lies a pile of ring-binders of half-finished short story collections, novels and non-fiction books. My notional deadline for all of these keeps getting pushed further down my 2015 calendar, which today reaches its halfway point and the beginning of the slide down into 2016.

Life is for Living

Body wash tube bearing the caption "live a life worth writing down"
Is this why I have some of my best ideas in the shower?

To worry about living life faster than I can write it down is of course vain and ridiculous. Much better to be in this position than to lead a life too dull to have anything interesting to write about. But that doesn’t stop me feeling the pressure.

Until someone invents a way of making the world stand still while I catch up with myself, I’ll just have to get on with it, and take comfort from quoting pretentiously to myself from either Keats’ Intimiations of Mortality (“When I have fears that I will cease to be, Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain”) or more light-heartedly (but still fairly pretentiously) from Laurence Sterne’s comic novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, in which the narrator digresses so much while supposedly writing his autobiography that he reaches volume III before he manages to complete the story of his own birth.

Another way of pulling myself together is to tell myself #FirstWorldProblem – a great way to shut up anyone being inappropriately self-pitying.

Internet Analogy

I have a similar dilemma with the internet as a whole: there is so much I want to do online, and I never have enough hours to do it. I’ve learned over the years that the best thing to do at the greatest point of stress is simply to walk away from it, at least for a little while, to allow myself some mental space and respite.

Knowing that this is a common problem, I’ve just written a post on the topic for the ALLi blog, which you can read here:

Why Authors Need to Step Away from the Internet

Bizarrely, just as I finished writing that post, my PC decided to agree with me. My internet connection immediately went dead, leaving me with no choice but to take a short offline break. Did it read my mind, does it have a sense of humour, or is that a chance that I can train it to meet other needs as they arise? I’m going to put it to the test – it’s just coming up to elevenses time now.

“Computer – coffee, please!”

Let’s see whether that yields similar results…

If you enjoyed this post you might also like:

The Power of the Shower – about finding inspiration in unusual places

You Can Call Me Al(ice) – about finding inspiration while “Running in Wonderland”



English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

8 thoughts on “What To Do When There Aren’t Enough Hours in the Day

    1. Was having a panicking weekend here – too much to do before the new book is out, too many events to organise. And then I stop and think. Youngest granddaughter is staying with us – al that can wait!

  1. Great post, Debbie! I certainly feel your pain!! Breaks from the Internet are by far the most effective for keeping me ‘on task’ – on which note I must log off and get back to editing!

    1. Thanks, Karen – and the irony is not lost on me that I have to go online to share my angst about being online! Happy editing – I’m off for a spot of proofreading on a paper proof in the sunshine myself – that certainly sugars the pill of proofreading!

  2. Debbie, so empathise will all this! Our laptops would not connect with Internet at Holiday Cottage and rather than call it a holiday we battled with BT for 2 days … also mine went for a complete clean through at the local computer shop – I LOVED being off-line … but here I am back again …writing an article, commenting on blogs …

    1. Maybe your computers wanted a holiday too! Glad you have had an offline break as well as being in such a lovely place – enjoy the rest of your stay!

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