I recently met a professional scriptwriter, who told me that the secret was never to work for more than three hours per day on any writing project. I took it as sound advice, and I think he’s sort of right. He’s also very successful at what he does. (No, you will not hear the clanging of a dropped name here, dear readers!)

Of course, now I find myself clock watching about two hours in, thinking, ‘Well, I’m nearly done’. I think the secret is actually to stop when you want to stop, and whether that’s two hours or six and a half hours, you know when you’ve run out of steam.

Whilst this ‘rule’ can happily apply to any of our creative endeavours, imagine if we tried it in the day job! ‘I have applied myself with diligence to this data input for three hours now. My work here is done, I am off down the pub.’

Less a case of ‘Later, Losers!’ than one of ‘Hello, HR!’.

Much has been written lately of Sweden’s experiment with the six hour working day. The bad news for the workers is that it turns out to be too costly to continue the scheme, at least in the care sector.

The irony is that most of us spend a goodly portion of our eight hours making tea, chatting, or having a sneaky peak at Facebook, just to break up the monotony. Our wee brains need a break. In fact, I’m writing this long overdue post because I need a break from doing Powerpoint Slides for my upcoming show ( I mentioned it last time, remember?).What I need to do is plan in my breaks and return to my slides refreshed.

(I once saw my old boss book an entire family skiing holiday during work hours. Took him ages. Of course, if I’d be concentrating on my own tasks, I might not have witnessed the spectacle. But shirking bosses are for another post.)

What I suppose I’m leading up to is the question of how many hours is enough hours, or too many? Or not enough? When it comes to work, I mean.

I am a great believer in 40 hours meaning 40 hours. Not 45, 50 or 60. If your contract says 40 hours, then the expectation must be that your job can be done in that number of hours. Beware any prospective employer who tells you that ‘We’re not a 9-5 organisation’ or ‘You find people here at all times of the night’. That means that anything less than buying into that will be seen as shirking.

Personally, I like the idea of ‘flow’, where you lose yourself in the task so much that you don’t notice the passage of time. Somehow, I fear that ‘flow’ and data entry or cardboard box making might not be entirely compatible. I used to be a vicious opponent of the wearing of headphones whilst working but, now, I say, bring them on. Why not concentrate on Radio 4 Extra and its many classic comedies if they make the 40 hours seem shorter? And, if you’re writing, painting or tinkering with your car, you won’t need the headphones. You’ll know when the flowing has stopped.

Now, where are those slides??






Networking, but Socially

Disclaimer alert, friends. This isn’t, I promise, an extended advert for the event mentioned at the end of this post. (But, if you’re in London on March 7th, do come and join us.) What I wanted to do was merely reveal some of my thought processes. Creativity unmasked, if you will.

I came to the idea of doing a podcast by asking myself two questions. What am I good at? What would I like to be doing? The answer to the first is ‘talking’, so question two more or less answered itself. In truth, I think I missed my calling to be a radio presenter, but the great thing about our digital age is that I can make that happen for myself. Of course, ‘What am I good at?’ didn’t encompass technical skills, such as editing, but I was open to learning and am still working to improve on what I have learnt in a relatively short space of time.

So, now that I’m up and running, and have written some blogs and made some episodes, I need to reach people. The obvious method is through the array of social media that abound these days. I’ve been posting on Facebook and have become a complete Twitter convert. I think it’s the shortness of it; 140 characters and no punctuation, what’s not to like? But, fun as it is, there’s something missing. So, I asked myself again, what am I good at? What is the best way I can promote myself? Well, duh, face to face, that’s how.

It can’t be just me that thinks all this ‘social’ networking can be anything but. Meeting people, talking and, crucially, listening, has still got to be the best way to promote what you do, especially if what you do best is – YOU! I find once I take myself out of the equation, and stare at a screen, aching for just one extra Twitter follower, I am in danger of ploughing a lonely furrow. I love the immediacy of the online connections, but, when someone gives me a ‘like’, I want to hear about them. It’s a bit like starting an interesting conversation at a bus stop, just as the other person’s bus arrives….and they’re gone.

So, I’m trying to get out and about. I’ve already written about Spark London’s Storytelling evening last month, and I’ll go to one of those again soon. I was at a music open mic night on Sunday, and there might well be an upcoming podcast on that. Who can say? I’m off to a huge craft fair in April. I’m hoping to take EmmaLucyMakes with me. Someone to talk to, and someone who knows what the heck we’re looking at. Crochet, anyone.

As creators, of course, we need time alone to create, but we also need to get out and talk to people. Anyone who’s sold their crafts at local fairs will tell you that. Maybe what you’ll hear from your customers, or potential customers (we are all customers, in the same way as we all have something to sell), is not what you expected, or even wanted to hear, but it’s best that you hear it. Online connections are great, and I truly value mine, but I need to be out in the world.

My next step was obvious. A networking evening. I can’t wait. I can talk about what I’ve been doing and hope people are interested, as well as hear about what they’re up to. We’ll all learn something and, I hope, have some fun. That what’s I call truly social networking. Come and join us. It’s Monday March 7th in a historic pub in London, W1. More below.


Let’s show the world we can really network, and be truly social.