I can hardly call myself an expert on dedicating time to writing. Indeed, I am writing this blog post as a means to procrastinate from writing. It’s about three in the afternoon on a Sunday. I’ve got a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. I am perfectly satiated hunger wise. My music playing in the background was inspirational for the current book I am writing. I am sitting at my kitchen breakfast bar, alone in my flat. By all definition I should be raring to go. It’s been nearly a week since I wrote anything – a seven thousand word epic marathon of spewing forth all my angst and frustration on to the page. It’s been a tough week – coming to terms with my age leveling up, though I wish I’d also gained some XP from it. Or at least a skill point. It’s only fair.
So now I have returned to my laptop with every intention spending the rest of the day writing, pouring my soul into words and emotions. My characters are at a crucial point in the story, and this essentially has been the milestone I have been waiting for. As a reader you might crave a certain impending event or developement of the story – imagine how much more difficult that is for the author. We have to suffer our own paragraphs, reconstructing the plot on the page after it’s been lingering in our minds for months, sometimes years. Imagine yourself stressing out over a date, one that you’ve been rehearsing to yourself every day for a year. You’ll know what you’ll say, you’ll know how you say it, what you might wear, where you might go. But it’ll take three hundred and sixty five days to get to the point where the excitement hits and every day preceding that will just be a shadow of a thrill, incrementally increasing with each passing hour. There is no fast forwarding or time travel. You have to go the long way round, as The Doctor would say. So those exciting parts of a book, film or TV show that you’ve been waiting ages to experience? Yeah, that author was waiting a lot longer.
Which is frustrating, when you know that that specific point will kick off a whole host of emotions, frustration and rage. They are every author’s heroin fix. Every preceding chapter is just the methadone; which makes it difficult to concentrate sometimes. When I am supposed to be writing chapter three, often I’m dwelling on the fallout of from chapter fifteen, or figuring out a neat ending that I can scribble down on my notepad and savour later (usually under a more scrutinous, and often more sober, eye).
Which leads me to the question that I am constantly asked, and to a section I may very well link to in future conversations…
There’s a Time to Write and a Time to Give up and Watch Doctor Who
Where do you find the time to write?
A question I once answered with “I don’t have three kids”, and which in the coming years as those ovaries start to swoon over the baby clothes section in M&S, I may sob over in a cocktail of nostalgia and regret.
In all honesty, I don’t know set aside time to write in the same way I would the housework. In many ways I wake up thinking of writing. As I walk to the tube, I’ll be thinking of my characters or a certain chapter in my book. Sometimes I’ll be thinking of new ideas, as and when they come to me. I write on trains, I write in cafes, pubs or even in the freezing cold of Regent’s Park when my brother forgot we had planned to meet. When I’m not writing, I feel guilty – which is a feeling that most authors get. However, what we must realise is that while you can spend your entire day, entire week and entire month writing constantly, shutting yourself off from the world – it’s not letting you be you. And that’s what makes any writer standout: their personality. A good writer can emulate any other – it’s not hard to be engrossed in HG Wells and follow his style. But what’s the point in being HG Wells, when you can be you? When you are writing, you are bringing your ideas to the table – your weird little outlook on life and that should not only be celebrated, but resuscitated at least three times a week where you can go out and do what you love doing, that doesn’t involve holding a pen or sitting at a laptop typing as if there’s no tomorrow – because there is a tomorrow and as much as you may want to spend it cooked up in your own little fictional world, you have to breathe in the cold harsh reality of the catastrophic little planet we inhabit. The one where Trump may get elected. The one where we discovered the UK is a lot more racist than we first thought. The one where goats are knitted little jumpers and where humpback whales rescue little seals from killer whales. This world is inspiring in so many different ways – if you just look up.
Finding the time to write is great and needs a great deal of dedication, but finding the time to not is absolutely essential. Some days you’ll write an amazingly tearful, thought provoking piece, others you’ll just want to crash out in front of the TV and watch Doctor Who.