The Amaryllis on my windowsill is in splendid, flamboyant bloom at the moment. Pity I can’t say the same about my writing. I’ve never believed in writer’s block, so the last few months have been difficult: I’ve come up against an immovable obstacle that I’ve been unable to push through. I’ve hit the wall.
I make notes, use diversionary tactics and bring out all the tried and tested solutions but I still find myself, against my own advice, messing around in the foothills, constantly editing and re-editing the first few chapters. It’s all procrastination. I should be pushing forward, not marching on the spot. Continue reading →
We’re all under time constraints these days – work, partners, kids, parents, exercise, social media; the list goes on – so it pays to be flexible in our approach to how we allocate the precious minutes we do have and grab writing opportunities whenever and wherever they arise. Here’s a short list of time consuming activities that I’ve had a rethink about and turned to my advantage. Continue reading →
Everyone has their own way of doing things and the more I read about other writers’ daily routines, the more surprised I am that we ever get any writing done at all. There are just so many claims on our time. Ideally, now that I’m well into the final editing phase of my second novel, my daily activities should fit around my writing. Pity it doesn’t quite work like that. Here’s how I make everything fit: Continue reading →
This week I’ve been lucky enough to witness a small miracle – baby house sparrows, a species much in decline in the UK, hatching in the rosemary bush under my kitchen window. Very interesting, but what does this have to do with writing, you may ask. Absolutely nothing, but I took some photographs and added the experience to my ever-expanding list of distracting time fillers, seized upon so that I can further avoid the inevitable – facing that frightening blank page.
I decided to write them all down, the little non-essential deviations and digressions, to see how much time I was wasting when I should be labouring at the keyboard.
A perfect storm. A new PC with an unfamiliar operating system, no internet connection and an awful lot of snow. What could possibly go wrong? Well, the shop had run out of Windows 8 for Dummies for a start. Couldn’t be better.
I’m not a computer expert and I appreciate that I need a modicum of understanding. Why should it be easy? I’ve read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and I know it behoves me to at least show willing, to get to grips with it, but perhaps not today. The lack of connectivity has given me an ideal opportunity to get some uninterrupted writing done and I shouldn’t ignore this gift. At least I’ve managed to upload all my files from the old computer so I’ve got something to work on. I’ve even managed to open a new document. I’m off and running.
In which we examine some of the influences that shape our writing lives. In part one I thought I would look more closely at the peripherals – those external aspects of writing, mostly outside our control, that nevertheless directly affect how we write and what we write about. In part two, we’ll scrutinize the writing process itself.
In my experience, writing isn’t a life choice, like exercise, or dieting. We don’t decide to become writers any more than we decide to become a man or a woman (well, most of us, anyway); by the time we’re ready to make such a conscious decision; writing has already made the choice for us. It’s a compulsion: innate, and as inevitable as death and taxes.
They say procrastination is the thief of time, but sometimes it has its advantages.
Last weekend I fully intended to get down to some serious writing. I switched on the PC, checked my emails (displacement activity no.1) and was all set to exit the internet for the day (displacement activity no.2 – I have to be firm with myself otherwise time just fritters away), when I decided to have a quick peep at my daily horoscope (displacement activity no.3).
What a delight! My astrologer of choice told me to take a day off. She also predicted that whilst I was busy doing nothing, I would have a brilliant idea. She explained that this would happen if I distracted my conscious mind, because it would allow my creative mind, or subconscious, to roam free.
I can’t afford to wait for the muse to descend; she might be having a day off. Far better to glue myself to that chair and churn it out. I can’t edit a blank page, after all. Not that I’m editing, you understand.
The best book I’ve ever read about writing is Stephen King’s, On Writing. Not a how-to book as such, it’s a fascinating chronicle of his writing experiences.
“Don’t wait for the muse … This isn’t the Ouija board or the spirit-world we’re talking about here, but just another job like laying pipe or driving long-haul trucks. Your job is to make sure the muse knows where you’re going to be every day from nine ’til noon or seven ’til three. If he does know, I assure you that sooner or later he’ll start showing up, chomping his cigar and making his magic.”
King suggests writing a thousand words a day – kid’s stuff!
Thought for the day:- Procrastination is the thief of time…. surely it must be time for another cup of tea and a biscuit?
Fell behind slightly with the daily total today – work does tend to get in the way of this enterprise – but I’m not losing heart. I’m still ahead of the game and it’s not all bad news. I’ve discovered a colleague who’s also signed on for this mad caper, so I now have a real person to compare word counts with. Will we get competitive? Watch this space.