Talking time with ... Fiona Macbain
Time to read: 3-4 Minutes
Today I’m chatting with Fiona in Inverness. In the last 7 months she has published 2 books – "Daughter Disappeared" and "Glasdrum", writes a fascinating and highly entertaining blog, is mum of 3 and works a regular job! How does she do it ?
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN REGARD TO YOUR ATTITUDE TO TIME ?
People say I’m quite determined! In my life I have drifted around, gone off on whims and tangents. Since I turned 40 I have been much more focused.
HOW DO YOU FIT IT ALL IN ?
I tried to analyse my life and then declutter activities. When my youngest son went to playgroup I was so determined I was going to get the book written. I knew I had to spend every single second I could on writing. I missed out on a lot of social things like going for coffee with other mums or evening events. That was hard. Every time there was something I had to do, even housework, I would question “Is this an hour I could spend doing the activity or instead write 200 words?” I would try not to waste any time at all.
I got quite obsessive with it. I even cut back on sleep. I could get by on 6 hours a night. For a long time I got up really early and wrote. I would take my kids to nursery and then race home. I learned to ignore mess – I would leave the dishes and even clothes lying on the floor. I did nothing that I didn’t HAVE to do.
I’ve got out of those ways but because I now want to write book 3 I will try and get back into that obsessive way. It’s the only way I can do it, otherwise it’s so easy to drift and then you lose an hour and then 2. Then a week goes by.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE A BOOK ?
The first one took 3 years and the second 2. I did start my 2nd book at 23 but then had a long time not doing anything on it !
Over a 5 year period I spent 2 years on one and then gave up on it and then 2 years on the next. Then I went back to “Daughter Disappeared” because I really liked it. It then took another year re-editing it. I’m hoping I can do the next one in a year ! I’ve got it all planned. For my first book I was quite disorganised – I had no idea if I was even capable of finishing it. I had wanted to do it my whole life but had never done it.
WHAT GOT YOU STARTED ON YOUR FIRST BOOK ?
When I came back from Tunisia with my daughter I wrote a memoir – full length 80 000 words! So, I had done that whilst she was little. I did that partly to make money. I had lost a lot of money in the water sports business I had invested in. I got no-where with this though. Then I met a new man and had 2 children. Time passed. As I had the memoir with all the locations recorded I decided to use that as a starting point to write fiction. I was now enjoying writing this much more.
DO YOU USE ANY TOOLS TO MANAGE YOUR TIME ?
Not really. Just my diary. Perhaps I need to write things down a bit more – I’m getting forgetful!
NOT ONLY DO YOU WRITE, YOU HAVE SELF PUBLISHED AND MARKETED YOUR BOOKS. WHAT IS THAT LIKE ?
It’s a huge, gigantic job. It’s quite demoralising. I feel like I’ve hardly been writing. I spent money on ads and lots of time publicising it. It was very successful. I got loads of comments from people with Tunisian connections which was nice. I then had to spend loads of time replying to everyone – it took up a lot of my time in November and December and totally took over my time writing. I had no idea there was such interest in Tunisia. Getting all the formatting stuff done is also quite time consuming.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU'VE HAD TO FORGO IN ORDER TO GET THE BOOKS OUT THERE ?
Quite a lot of social things. I’ve just been too tired, as I said, I do get obsessive. I want to get obsessive about it otherwise I just wouldn’t get it done. I do get a little criticised for being obsessive.
WHAT OTHER ACTIVITIES DO YOU DO ?
I run because it’s the quickest thing to fit in. Although I like the gym, that takes up much more time as you have to add in journey time. When I run, I go slowly so that I can deliberately think about the book the whole time. I might stop and put some thoughts onto my phone or as soon as I get in I will write them down. I’m sounding kind of obsessive now aren’t I? If I run slowly I can think about the book at the same time. As soon as I start to go faster I can’t seem to do that.
ANY LAST THOUGHTS ON HOW ANYBODY CAN MAKE THE MOST OF THIER TIME ?
I suppose it depends what people want. I get easily bored. The writing stops me being bored.
I check my phone a lot. If I’ve got a few minutes standing in a queue I will look at my Facebook ads, messages etc. and respond to things.
I barely watch TV these days. I always weigh up my time, one activity against another. It’s a bit similar to saving money – counting pennies to save the pounds, which definitely works. I think of time as being in quite small chunks -watch out for not wasting those small bits (minutes). If you don’t spend a few pounds on that coffee it all adds up over time. It’s the little things that count.
I do feel guilty sometimes about the time I am not spending with my children but then on the other hand I can tell they are proud of me. I hope they can see that if you work hard you can achieve what you want to. Writing has brought other good things into my life too that I wasn’t expecting – I’ve been on stage in London and met interesting people in the book world.
I am now compelled to write book No 3
To find out more about Fiona take a peek at her website https://fionamacbain.com/