Why everyone needs a ‘Swimming Project’

Everyone has dead time. Time spent waiting at clubs, for school to finish, in soft play centres, in cars, at parties etc. – if you are a parent. Time spent waiting for buses, on trains, browsing the web in your lunch break, waiting for the gas man etc. – if you’re not.

The trick is to bring this dead time back to life, so that it works for you – a spare 20 minutes or so here and there really can make a massive difference to your day, and to your life in general.

My largest amount of dead time each week is spent waiting for my son at swimming club (adding up in total to an average of 3-4 hours a week, give or take). Hence my ‘swimming projects’ – projects portable enough to practically work on in the spectator area of a swimming pool, but meaningful enough for me to actually be motivated to work on them (as opposed to just simply comparing notes and gossiping with other parents) whilst I’m there.

My ‘thing’ is writing – as a writer, I am obviously working on a novel currently (isn’t everyone?), but the novel just isn’t suitable for me as a ‘swimming project’. The time spent there is just too fragmented and bitty for me to focus on such a huge undertaking and, even though I work from a netbook most of the time anyway, I’m never organised enough to have it packed and ready to go when I’m racing out the door to go. My old fashioned notebook, on the other hand, is ever ready in my handbag – along with a random selection of marketing pens, and stubby pencils.

The time spent at swimming each week is perfect for writing poetry, short stories and dialogue for plays – and it’s surprising how quickly the framework for these short pieces starts to take shape. At some point in the process, the current ‘swimming project’ inevitably takes on a life of its own though – and I then find myself typing it up, editing and revising obsessively in every spare moment I get until I’m finally able to put it to bed, forget about it – and get back to the ever beckoning novel.

So my advice to you (for what it’s worth!) is to give some thought to what might become your own ‘swimming project’ – just because I write doesn’t mean you have to. You might crochet, cross stitch, knit, sketch, paint your nails (or at least file them!), card count – do anything really that will turn wasted time into me time. Who knows where your imagination might start to take you if you let it?

Until next time,