About two years ago, I wrote three 100,000+ word manuscripts back to back. ‘The Gildar Rift’, ‘Valkia the Bloody’ and what is still quietly known as ‘Project: Loophole’. In that time, I also wrote a 30,000 word novella (‘Accursed Eternity’) and several short stories. I had a flow and rhythm to my writing. It was easy.
Then… it sort of stopped. Dead. For a few weeks, I had nothing to write. Nothing at all. I was flailing about like a little lost thing. For the best part of a year, this writing lark had taken over my life. I would come home from work and spend a full two hours tippy-tapping away at the keyboard, a repetitive click-a-click that was oddly soothing and relaxing. I was having a great time.
Things started getting busy again for me in the last six months but I’m not finding the discipline so easy this time round. I’ve changed my job since then and I think that’s a part of it. A good half of last year was spent wading around in the mire of depression (which I’m glad to say is now pretty much past) and since Himself broke his leg, it feels like it’s taken forever for a routine to re-establish itself. I am out of the rhythm. Marching to my own beat. Failing, completely, to fall in line.
It’ll come. I know it will. I need to exert just a little more will and effort and everything will be OK. The new blogging promise is helping; I find that writing these daily blogs gets me in a good writing mood.
People frequently ask me ‘what are your tips for writing’ and along with the standard ‘read everything, write lots’ advice that I was given myself back when I started, I’d add ‘structure your day’ to that mix. I work full-time, which means my writing gets done in those precious hours between getting in from work and going to bed. Some nights I have no desire whatsoever to sit in front of a computer at all and have to physically force myself to do it.
But for free, I’ll tell you this. It’s no great secret and I suspect that even full-time writers would agree with me on this.
It isn’t easy to make yourself write when your heart simply isn’t in it.
I try to block out a full two hour period between coming in from work in which to write. Sometimes I can be super-productive in that time. Other times, I write and think ‘that’s GOT to be about 1,500 words’ only to discover it’s only around 600.
I do try to set myself a minimum daily word count – 1,500 is a good minimum for me and fits in with most of my deadlines. Sometimes that’s higher. Other times, like now, when I’m working on about four different things at once, it simply varies. I’m blessed that I can type very fast, so the brain-to-fingers ratio is suitably quick. People don’t believe me when I say I can produce xxx words in an hour, but I can.
I don’t always do this minimum word count in the pre-ordained two hour writing window. Sometimes, I throw a couple of hundred words down whilst I’m doing something else, simply because it comes to me that way.
The fact of the matter is this, however.
I need to poke myself with a sharp stick in order to get back on track. I am pathologically addicted to delivering manuscripts on time – usually ahead of time – and the thought of requesting extensions to deadlines leaves me cold. Writing this down honestly here in the blog is actually helping. It makes me realise that the core of the problem is… well, me. Just me and my ever-lingering sense of apathy.
Time to shake it off and emerge, like a phoenix from the ashes. Or, as is more likely in my case, like a sparrow clambering out of a puddle of Superglue.
Onwards! Upwards! Er… sideways!