Sunday, 27 January 2013

Making time is hard

Just a swift muse on the difficulties of writing routines today...Have you ever noticed how hard it is to be efficient in every area of your life at once? Something is always escaping me...the housework, most often, because I dislike the thought of it, but then, until it's done, it hampers everything else too, dampening my creativity and enthusiasm.

Sometimes, being in control of something unrelated to writing will give me such a confidence boost, I find my fingers can't fly fast enough over the keyboard.

I'm suffering from a bit of both at the moment, and feeling generally out of control of everything! I remember the productivity when I sat down and planned my day carefully the evening before, prioritising my writing, and I'm going to try it again, else I'll never find time for me. But I also need to prioritise the children, my husband, losing baby weight (nearly a year later)...and I need to do five extra hours of paid work this week, too.

Sometimes it seems that anything as reassuring and productive as a routine is beyond my grasp. I wonder how other writers force themselves to focus?

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Writing Fashions

As a child, a huge amount of the reading I did was of 'classics'  - Jane Eyre, Lorna Doone, Dickens...these were the books my parents had received as prizes as children. It surprises me now, to think how few books there were in our home, and how little my parents read. But my mother encouraged us academically, and bought us children's books, and scolded me when she found me reading by torchlight, and praised me the rest of the time and by the time I was a teenager, she helped me to buy a pair of six-foot tall bookshelves out of the classifieds, which I was able to almost fill with books I had collected from charity shops, or bought with book vouchers. I still think it's a poor Christmas or birthday if there is no book-shaped gift.
We now own a huge bank of IKEA bookcases, with the books crammed in, two deep, and my Kindle, nearly a year old now, has its own growing collection of books.
What you read influences your writing enormously, and I see now that the disproportionate number of classics I used to read made some of my teenaged attempts at story writing very old-fashioned. I'm far more widely read now, but have plenty to learn.
I'm currently reading'Vanity Fair', and finally know who Becky Sharp is. The intrusive authorial voice is there in its fullness. Reading this novel, at this age, I can see how jarring and irritating it is, and why the fashion has swung away from this type of writing. It's a thoroughly enjoyable read, though!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Judging covers

In the effort to make your book stand out from the crowd, the front cover is a priority. I don't know yet if I will be self-publishing at some point, but at least I know my design skills aren't much better than my seven year old's, and that I'd need to enlist help with it. Lousybookcovers rounds up some of the worst cover designs - a real caveat against DIY covers - and it's very funny...unless it's too close to home. There's always a lesson to be learnt from someone else's mistakes though - so go and look, and call it education!

Saturday, 12 January 2013


Apparently, a good night's sleep and a less pressured day is enough to make my writing future rosier. Thank goodness for that. I daren't waste my energies blogging; I'm hoping to get on with some writing tomorrow.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Tight horizons

I'm afraid I may have to give up writing for a while. I'm back at work - paid work, that is - and it feels as though my life has imploded. At the moment my horizons are so tight upon me that I know something has got to be jettisoned.
 I'm afraid it will be my writing - my main passion, the thing I love and am absorbed by, the only thing in my life that is just for me. There isn't time to be a good teacher, just an adequate one; the extra preparation time for teaching makes me a worse mother....though still just about adequate. What does that leave? What part of me is left to devote to writing?
Hopefully, something. Once we're settled in routine, surely I can prioritise those goals.
I'm glad that I began writing the short stories for The Year of Stories early. Without that pre-commitment and nest-egg of work, I think it would be easy to take a break now, which would not do me any good.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Prioritising Writing Time

I wanted to fit a lot of writing in this week, despite the end of my maternity leave. I'm only in work for two days, but I knew I'd have to be productive today to make the most of my truncated week.

I read a fantastic article in Writing Magazine at the weekend. Joanne Borrill shared several tips for focussing and making the most of your time. You'd wonder what new things could be said about such a topic, but apparently, quite a lot!

Something that inspired me greatly was a jam-jar illustration she'd borrowed from Nina Grunfeld. Go and read the article in Writing Magazine and see what you think! Anyway, I was so encouraged, I planned out my day by starting with the goal (to write) and then working everything else around it. Too often I leave writing till last, and it becomes my 'rollover activity' that eternally appears on tomorrow's to-do list.

I'm blaming my mother for that. She taught me to do the unpleasant things first and keep the fun and play till last.  As reluctant as I sometimes am to put fingers to keyboard, I can't count my writing as anything other than pure pleasure.

The related danger for me, when planning my writing, is that I can't stop. Writing makes me a Bad Mother. If  I try to write while the kids are around, I neglect them, and say, SSSSHHHH in a hissy-fit voice if they tiptoe past. If I try to squeeze in a half hour's writing before I pick up children from school or nursery, I keep going too long, and then end up having to jog the whole way, and am still late. So putting the writing in first is probably a wise idea. I don't find it so hard to drag myself away from the laundry or the dishwasher.

And the extra bonus? When a rejection letter landed on the doormat at nine-forty today, I hadn't time to be discouraged because I had A Plan to Write. So I told myself that a rejection is a positive thing because it shows I'm taking risks and putting my work out there....and went and wrote instead.

I polished my January story, then had a half hour to plan some characters for my novel....and even managed to pick the three year old up on time. And that was all before I got on with some housework....

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Happy New Year

A belated Happy New Year to all! My year of stories has begun, and I have until the middle of February for the January deadline. (I know; time works differently in magazine world...)

I haven't made any resolutions this year (unless aspiring to publication counts) but the last thing I did in 2012 before settling down with my husband to see the New Year in was submit an entry online to the 100 word story competition in the Reader's Digest, which also has a closing date looming.

Whatever you do with your New Year, I hope you do as much writing as you want to!