Another successful day’s writing.

There are certain songs that feature regularly on my computer playlist. One collection of songs relates to my Brit thriller, Standpoint, as a soundscape – a musical shorthand to evoke a scene or a mood. And there are some songs that are so hauntingly beautiful that I’ve loved them from the very first time I heard the tracks. It helps, too, if the lyrics convey something meaningful to me.

One such song is Who Knows Where the Time Goes? as recorded by the late Sandy Denny, and also by Kate Rusby (I love both versions) among others. 

Time is a thing of mine. My brother used to call me Johnny Stopwatch, after my habit of not wanting to be anywhere for long. Well, that and my admission that I had an unwritten three-hour rule for being in anyone’s company – notable exceptions being him and Anne.

As a writer, time is important. Not only the quantity, but the quality too. Having a precious hour to write and yet not be in the right environment to write can be just as maddening as having no time at all.

Which leads me neatly on to that prince among time thieves: email. 

Where does a writer’s time go when it comes to emails? Here’s a breakdown of my email inbox for one day. Maybe not a typical day, but certainly a day chosen at random and there are no great surprises here.

Let the mathematics begin…

% of total
Writing forum
Blog related
PPH / LinkedIn / FB / Work
Comedy writing
Other (charity / info / etc)
Publishing related
Coaching / development related
People trying to sell me stuff

Twitter – new followers and recommendations.
Writing forum – comments and links from fellow writers at Musa Publishing.
People trying to sell me stuff – things I haven’t asked for.

A few simple email rules would take the overwhelming majority of those emails straight out of my inbox and into subfolders. Only two things hold me back:
1. What if I missed something urgent?
2. When would I get the time to read them!

How do you manage your emails?


  1. Holding down the delete key is a skill I mastered months ago. Being on Outlook Express gives me a bit of an advantage because the body of the email is immediately visible without opening it, therefore easy to delete.:)

  2. Ricky Bush says:

    Well, I have one e-mail account that gets spammed on a regular basis, and a couple of others that are associated more with my writing endeavors which are more manageable. Having three to check is a PITA. By the way, my editor included a playlist of all the music mentioned in my latest book, The Devil's Blues. It'll be clickable Youtube links in the eBook when it comes out on Feb 5th.

  3. Chloe says:

    If I'm really into writing then I don't notice new e-mails until I'm taking a break. I also set up things like Facebook so they don't e-mail me and I have to go to them to check instead (and don't do that until I've finished writing for the day). But e-mails can distract me horribly if I'm already in the mood for distraction. Then I don't get enough to keep me procrastinating!

  4. Derek says:

    Ricky, that's a great idea for an ebook. What's the situation with permissions? I know in the past that I've linked to clips and then found, subsequently, that they've been taken down.

  5. Derek says:

    I think the answer, unless the writing involves research, is to stay offline when writing!

  6. Chloe says:

    I constantly use the google 'define' feature while writing! But I do shut down my e-mails if they're distracting me. I'm getting better at not letting them do that though. Sometimes.

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