My Books

My Books
My Books

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

What constitutes 'writing'? Are we lying to ourselves?

So, you have this dream, a beautiful, sparkly dream where you sit down at the keyboard and the words flow from a pristine font deep inside, stories fully formed... Ah!

Seems a world away from the dishevelled form slumped in front of the computer struggling through bleary eyes and a headache to skid in to a deadline, hitting 'send' at two minutes to midnight.

So, when we chat to each other, as writers, do we lie? Gloss it up? Tell the truth? Cos doesn't everyone else seem to be doing so well, churning out books, gathering piles of publishing contracts, smiling blissfully at their bank statement?

Er, no. A select few may have this experience, occasionally. I've known writers who struggled for YEARS before getting a single contract and then had their career take off, when they are in their fifties. The vast majority of writers in my circle of acquaintance struggle with the exact same issues I do:
  • Constructing a bubble of time in which to work that is separate from work, family, friends
  • Focussing on what they were supposed to be doing in said bubble of time, without being distracted by kittens and baby hedgehogs
  • Being organised and then actually sticking to the plan
  • Not expending considerable time and energy on the perfectly cleared desk, dust-free house and clean, shiny car before settling to write

So, I ask, what constitutes actually writing in any given day? Is it going through your notebooks collecting those stray bits you want to use? Is it updating your blog? (like I'm doing now) Is it doing publicity stuff for your last book? It is emails to other writers discussing writing stuff? Is it reading well informed and interesting blog posts? Connecting on LinkedIn etc? Reading your journals? Following leads? Submiitting to a publisher?

I'm sure everyone would have a slightly different answer. Here's what I think, seven books down the road,with two more to come out this year - as long as you are writing something, towards any project, it counts.

One of the most valuable writing exercises I do is putting together a synopsis for a publsher. Nothing gets you in a knot faster than having to summarise your entire book into a single page, or even (hold your breath) one sentence! But it's a brilliant process. The clarity is astonishing.
So, what do you think? 

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