Life, On Writing

writing when there seems to be no time

I’ve learned a truth: you’ll never get around to doing anything unless you make time for it. Do you want to organise your bookshelves according to tropes? Do you long to become ambidextrous? Investigate the lifecycles of newts? Have regular conversations with your local oak tree? (Don’t. You’ll receive several bemused looks.) (Or do.) Do you want to write a book? 

Make time for it. 

You don’t need a study overlooking the sea. You don’t need a smoking jacket or a typewriter or a special sort of paper or a desk shaped like a whale. (Though … that would be amazing and if anyone has one going SIGN ME UP!)

BASIC REQUIREMENTS:

  • You
  • Something to write with (ink/a functioning computer/word processor/paper etc etc)
  • Determination

You’ll very rarely have a perfect afternoon to while away in a different world, or an entire weekend free of worry with brilliant weather just right to write with.

Writing can be done in a spare fifteen minutes tapping away at the keyboard. Writing can done scribbling away on your lunch-break. Writing can done when you’re tired, when you’re stressed, just before bed, just before breakfast. 

It can be ten words, a hundred words, perhaps even a thousand (or two!). It isn’t always magical, it’s not secretive and it’s decidedly not glamorous.

It’s the simplest thing which is somehow the hardest – setting down one word after the other. Planting your bottom in a chair, stretching your hands over the keyboard, taking a breath, and diving into the words.

Five minutes. Ten. Or heck – even half an hour. It doesn’t matter for how long, the important thing is: you’re doing it.

Waiting for the perfect time, the perfect moment, and the perfect day doesn’t work. They don’t arrive. They’re stuck in the pipeline. Caught in the ever elusive ‘tomorrow’.

Make time. Cram words into the cracks and little pieces of the day you’d otherwise fill with reddit, youtube, Instagram, or a thousand other things.

Make time and the words will pile up.

happy writing!

I think I just rambled, Life, On Writing

I Didn’t Finish NaNoWriMo [A Tale]

In two months I wrote just under 100,000 words. And yet I still didn’t complete NaNaWriMo.

October was a rush of words, words and words. I slew dragons and wrote about freedom when I meant to write about fear, I completed a trilogy and novella and then, with barely a moment to draw a good breath, it was NaNoWriMo.readingaroundtheworld

At first, it trotted along rather nicely and the story rolled out and away before me. Even after two days of no writing and much adventuring in Belgium I caught up soon enough. Until that last week of November I was on track. But then … nothing happened.

No blog posts, no writing, no editing.

I read. A lot. Mostly at irregular hours. But did I write? No, not a word. Inspiration had dried up and not even my own blog post could help me.

sandwichesRight now, I’m – with many a stall and a false start – attempting to butcher and better Sandwiches, and after that I have all winter to complete The Many Trials of a Blacksmith.

I’m not disappointed that I didn’t finish NaNaWriMo, but I’m very glad that I attempted it. It boosted The Many Trials by a great deal and set the story rolling.

And for that, I’m grateful.

But whether you succeeded in NaNoWriMo (accept my congratulations!), or like myself, didn’t make it to the finishing line, I think we all deserve a hearty hurrah, a pat on the back and a nice cup of tea. Because we wrote, and I rather think that is what National Novel Writing Month is all about.

Fancy a cuppa?

Life, On Writing

How To Write When You’d Really Rather Not

howtowritewhenyoudreallyrathernot
once more a wordy post title by one who is clearly an expert on the matter *cough, cough*

When you want to write, but can’t – that’s writer’s block. When you can write, but can’t muster the motivation – that’s … also a bit of writer’s block, but with a pinch of ‘Alas-I-Don’t-Feel-Like-It’.

You can write, but you don’t want to. Motivation has dried up, vanished. You want to read, or get up off your chair and explore the world, and do Life Things. But alas, you cannot – you’ve got a word count to reach, and by golly, you want to reach it.

Have no fear, my friend! I’ve thrown together a few pointers that have helped me, and hopefully will aid you …

Exit Your Web Browser

I’m sorry, but it must be done. Bookmark tabs you want to keep, but by all means, exit. You have to. (And you can always Restore Previous Session should everything be Terribly Important.)

Sit Yourself Down

… if you weren’t already. But by this I mean, sit yourself down mentally. Stare at the screen or paper and be ready to write. Don’t fidget or berate your mind for coming up with a dry-as-bone story. Nope. Don’t do that.

One writer I know tells me that he sits down every morning and says to himself nicely, “It’s not like you don’t have a choice, because you do – you can either type or kill yourself”

-Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

All right, the above may be a little drastic, but my point in using it is this: don’t give yourself a choice. You are writing. Right. Now.

Remember Why

Put all thoughts of comparisons, word count aims and what you wish to eat for lunch out of your brain. Recall what sparked this story in the first place, remember what got you excited and whip yourself up into a state of perpetual enthusiasm.

Don’t wait for the writing mood to come to you, go and seize the little imp with your own hands.

… and lastly

Before you is the blank screen or the lined paper, both devoid of words. Don’t panic. Set that first word down, follow it by another and another … and trust me, soon enough, you’ll be swept up in a scene. And you’ll be writing.

I think I just rambled, Life, On Writing

Possibly Edible Creations, Deadlines and other such draconic nonsense

After a string of late nights and many hours spent staring at words until the words themselves lose their meaning (‘curse? cu-rse? c-ur-se? That’s not a word. Wait. Is it?’) I felt rather drained this morning.

The sun was bright and shining, and the sudden urge to sit in a coffee shop, drink coffee and read a nice comforting book seized me.

But then I realised that coffee shops contain coffee, chairs, toilets, food and people. I decided that the garden was a better – and quieter – option.

IMG_0804// pictured: a cup of tea, a pink Bible, Marcia Schuyler, by Grace Livingston Hill – ‘Tales of a Child Bride’ as it ought to be subtitled – and an edible creation entitled: Let Me Just Bung This In With That and I Might Have Overdone The Cinnamon’ //

It was quite a pleasant brunch. But then dark clouds appeared and I beat a graceful retreat. It started raining soon after, which prompted a hasty trip outside to retrieve the washing.

The Curse of Cackling Meadows is officially released tomorrow. I’ve decided that deadlines are actually quite useful things. As are dictionaries, without which I wouldn’t have learnt that ‘draconian’ doesn’t describe something as dragon-like. The correct word for that sort of thing is ‘draconic’.

Draconian means unusually cruel or severe, and derives from the Athenian statesman Draco and his severe set of rules. It is also the name of a Swedish Doom/Gothic Metal band.

You learn something new every day, and I managed to avoid describing a cloud as ‘draconian’, which would have odd. I mean, ‘a draconic cloud’ still sounds quite odd, but in context it’s perfectly fine.

Or so I like to tell myself.

Life, On Writing

e is for endurance (of the writerly sort)

e

endurance is …

plopping your bottom down on that seat and staying there till you’re done

ignoring your bed

also ignoring the weight of your eyelids which are. so. heavy.

(because you are going to finish this chapter)

putting one word in front of the other

forcing your brain to cooperate

turning your music up so that it does

changing the music because it doesn’t

telling yourself it isn’t the word count that matters, it’s the quality of the words

getting to the finishing line

dropping into bed

because e is also for exhausted

(and ecstatic and also exultant … because you’ve finished, you’ve reached your goal. You endured)