The occasional ramblings of a freelance lexicographer

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Getting started

I'm generally not bad at getting going in the morning. I have a cup of tea and a toasted bagel watching Breakfast TV, then I switch on my computer, get dressed and sit down at my desk. Most mornings, I spend about half an hour checking and dealing with any email and, yes, checking Facebook too. But then I usually get down to work without much trouble. Yesterday though, the first thing on my list was to revise something I'd written a couple of weeks ago. I'm not particularly precious about things I write and I was perfectly happy to make the changes, but I just find going back over old things really difficult to get motivated about. I'm the same about anything - I get excited and enthusiastic about new things, but after that first flurry of activity, my enthusiasm wanes. Over the years, I think I've got a bit better at seeing things through to the end, certainly professionally, but those last bits of to-ing and fro-ing to make revisions and changes at the end of a piece of work are still my least favourite part of the job.

So faced with ploughing through editor's notes on a Monday morning, I realised I needed a different tactic to get my week going. I didn't really want to start on the next chunk of writing until I'd finished off the revisions, so instead I spent an hour or so writing out wordlists - picking out useful vocabulary for the activities I'm going to be working on next and writing them out in neat handwritten lists for future reference. Ever since I was a little girl, I've enjoyed writing things out neatly and nowadays, it's often the way I get started on a new project. Whilst the lists aren't strictly necessary, the process of turning the words over in my head, spotting patterns and anomalies is incredibly helpful in firing off ideas about how to tackle the language at hand.

And after the wordlists had helped me getting started, I was in the swing of things and those revisions got worked through in no time at all.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sedentary, moi?!

It would be easy working at a desk all day to become very sedentary, so I make an effort to go out every day and stretch my legs with a trip to the shops or a swim. I'm also a right fidget and I struggle to stay still for very long. My working day is punctuated by lots of getting up and wandering around, to make a cup of tea, to check the post, to pop on a load of washing or just to look out the window. That's not to say that this is work avoidance - instead it's thinking time. Rather than spend time staring at my screen, I think and compose ideas in my head as I potter around the house. My house though happens to be spread over three floors, with my office at the top, the kitchen in the middle and front door at the bottom. My boyfriend often remarks at how much time I spend trotting up and down the stairs (because I always trot rather than trudge), so I thought I'd do a study of my movements. Yesterday, I stuck post-it notes on the wall at the top and bottom of each staircase and carried one of those little IKEA pencils in my pocket to mark off each time I went up or down:

The result? 72 times! That's 36 ups and 36 downs; 25 each up and down the upper set of stairs (13 steps) and 11 up and down the lower set (10 steps). I've been up and down twice just in the time I've been writing this post; once to pick up the pile of post-its I'd left on the table downstairs and once to find my camera to upload the picture. That could be described as inefficient, but I prefer to think of it as active!


Friday, October 07, 2011

Extended hols

At the weekend, we got back from a fantastic trip to Madagascar; a real adventure of a lifetime and a proper getaway, with no internet, TV or mobile signal for more than two weeks - bliss! I know that some freelancers struggle with holidays (worrying about taking time off/turning work down/losing income), but as someone who fits work around my life rather than the other way round, I love the freedom to go away that freelancing allows.

Inevitably though as a freelancer, when you go on holiday, work never stops neatly just before you go and picks up again as soon as you're back. You have to plan in a bit of contingency so that you can be sure you've finished off whatever you're working on before you go away. For this trip, I finished teaching a week before I left and just had a few bits and pieces of loose ends to tidy up in the spare week. It was quite nice to have some extra packing/last-minute shopping time.

I'd hoped to come back and get started on a new project this week, but inevitably, there's been a bit of email to-ing and fro-ing to get things started and as of now (Friday afternoon), I'm still waiting for stuff to come through. Again, it was quite nice to ease back in gently, download all my holiday photos and plough through the mound of washing. I'm now starting to get a bit restless though and very aware of the fact that my two-week holiday has actually involved a 4-week break through which I haven't been earning anything. That's a month unpaid and of course, without the benefit of holiday pay. Hmmm ... swings and roundabouts, I suppose.

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