At the moment I am struggling with focus and discipline related to creative writing. I’m not going to be too hard on myself because the summer was very difficult emotionally. I’m actually glad that autumn is here, which is unusual for me.
I’m looking forward to the literary nights starting again and I’m hoping that will spur me on. I don’t need to keep writing more and more introspective poems, flash fiction experiments or hectically scribbled ideas for novels. I need to dig deep and work on rewriting what I already have: the hard part.
Besides the literary nights, I’ve been wondering about other actions I can take to get me to do the hard work: back to a writing group, enter more competitions, sign up for a poetry course, splurge on a writers retreat, send poetry to the whatsapp poetry group, create a poetry collection to self-publish, contact agents again….? All of these actions would help motivate me to put some work in.
I think for now I will focus on the first literary night coming up in a week. I will choose one poem already written and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse; I will go one step at a time back to the creative discipline, as the leaves turn golden and start to fall.
Over the years I’ve read about many different routines of great writers and discovered that almost all are strict and followed religiously. Usually the prolific writers start quite early in the morning.
Waking up early is a new thing for me over the past couple of years. I love the quiet of the early morning and drinking coffee in bed, even on weekdays. By the time I leave for my walk to the office, I’ve been up for at least two hours.
However, it is only recently that I have started writing in the early morning. Before this, I still had it in my head that I was not a morning person, so, even if I was awake, creativity wouldn’t work.
Actually, writing in the early morning is very productive, for me at least. The creativity does work. So far I’ve only written in the early morning at the weekend, but I’m considering instigating it on weekdays as well, especially as I feel quite tired in the evenings and go to bed relatively early, if I’m having an evening in.
I am currently feeling very passionate about poetry in the morning. I have recently done another recitation at the same literary night as before. I felt much more solid this time. Still a long way to go, but hopefully that is always the case, the growing and changing.
I have also returned to my short story compilation, to get myself back in the prose head space. For me, with this and other story projects, along with poetry, early morning writing seems to be the way forward for skillful outputs.
Second poetry performance. Photo credit: Lucy Tertia George.
The Daily Routine of 20 Famous Writers
Writing, like life, is not always easy or fun. Life, like writing, comes with multitudinous struggles that affect our ability to create. I don’t want this blog to be a litany of successes and goals, because that would not be the full picture.
These past two weeks have been mentally taxing for personal reasons, and I’ve really struggled to write much of anything. I’ve done a few poems, but that’s all. The short story compilation is sitting idly by, gathering e-dust in my hard drive. My writing partner gave me feedback ages ago that I have still not implemented.
But this is all normal and I am learning that in writing, and in life, I don’t have to be 100% everyday. That would be impossible. The perfectionist in me is very punishing at times and I keep having to tell them that they need to take a break from the relentless quest for achievement. We are getting slightly more self-compassionate, but it is an uphill battle.
This morning I have written a poem that I am quite pleased with so I will continue working on that. But in the meantime, I’m trying to remember that productivity comes and goes. We are not machines. Discipline is one thing, but firing on all cylinders all the time isn’t human.
Happy 2019 to all. I am very pleased it is the new year. 2018 was great, but December, as seems to be the case these days, was a bit of an anxious slog. I felt like I was stumbling toward the finish line by the end of it.
But I have just come back from an extremely refreshing and much-needed holiday in sunny Southern California, which is where I grew up. The last two weeks have contained delightfully happy times with family and friends that have set me up well for the new year.
Considering all of this, there has been a bit of a break in the creative writing process. However, I am determined to make 2019 another writing year and get back to my collection of short stories. I have written two so far and had feedback from my writing partner on both.
The dilemma now is this: do I redraft as I go, or write all of them and then redraft? They are all stand alone stories, but I’m leaning toward writing them all and then redrafting as there may be similarities in how I’m approaching the material in each of them. And it will be satisfying to have the full manuscript done, albeit as a first draft.
I’m not going to forge ahead with 500 words today as jetlag from yesterday’s flight is wreaking havoc on my concentration skills. But, from tomorrow, let the flurry of typing begin!
I am very pleased to announce that I am starting work on a book of short stories. The content remains a secret for now, but, after considering my creative/life trajectory, I’m convinced that it will be a very worthwhile project. I’ve set myself a goal of writing 500 words a day. I am quite goal-driven so this will probably mean a great deal of output.
I have already finished the first draft of the first story. 2500 words. It needs to be revised before I send it to my writing partner (as usual, very supportive and instrumental in the brainstorming of this idea).
It is a stimulating project because there is a huge amount of content to draw from. Knowing how to manage that, respect the material and create compelling narratives in each story will be the exciting challenge.
At the same time, I have just acquired the most delightful, adjustable Italian-made chair to sit in and write (pictured below). I had a gift voucher for John Lewis which covered the cost completely. It has transformed my beloved studio into a much more creative space. Since it arrived on Wednesday, I have spent hours sitting in it. As a fold-up outdoor chair it is stored easily in my corridor.
All is well with the creation of a potentially publishable book and my habitat. Lots of work to do, but the creative future looks promising.
The word ‘homework’ does not summon up joy in everyone’s heart. But for me, it does. At school I loved homework, which made me a bit of an annoying swot, maybe. I loved learning, and I loved doing the necessary work to learn as much as possible. I also loved getting A’s (maybe another annoying character trait). But we are who we are.
I was recently sent a joke about the fact that being a writer means you always have homework. It was funny, but as I am so nerdy, I thought: that’s great! Just what I want.
Writing gives my life purpose and the fact that I am now aspiring to get my work out there has also provided a huge amount of meaning. Writing is not the only thing that gives my life purpose, of course. My beloved friends and family score higher, but I am speaking vocationally. With writing I can make connections with people through creativity, I can have goals, I can add a new facet to my identity and I can express myself to others in a positive way.
One of my key new links is with my writing buddy, the author of Three Women (available from 31 Oct 2018), Lucy Tertia George (https://www.facebook.com/lucytertiageorge/). We are often bouncing ideas off each other and I appreciate her necessary feedback so much. Without writing in my life, I would never have discovered this enriching connection.
Yesterday I submitted my first short story to a competition. I spent most of the day in my studio editing it. I have been working on it since early June. Lucy provided two rounds of feedback, and I got input from some other friends as well.
So writing is like homework. And I am always a student wanting to learn. However, there is a crucial difference between most of my solitary homework in the past and what’s happening now. I really think collaboration, getting feedback, talking and getting the work out there are fundamental. Surely, it takes a village and once you get your tribe right, the writing should definitely improve.