Write What You’ve Just Heard

A few people have contacted me today to ask how I plan my day and also, how I get enthusiastic about writing and keep it going for long periods of time. Here are my thoughts on it all…

As a writer, there isn’t a set-in-stone answer to that question. In my life every day is different. Life has a funny way of throwing things at you when you least expect it, so sometimes your writing has to take a back seat.

For example – one of my boys has maybe been up all night being sick, I’ve had one hours sleep and feel like a zombie. The other child is absolutely fine and cannot believe that I don’t have the energy for football/painting/dressing up/making cakes and the general fun-filled nonsense that you normally do as he is so used to his sibling being about to play with and Mum’s are boring! Cue tears and strops – and that’s just from me, never mind the kids.

What you need to do, if you have in fact obtained the lurgy family from hell, is to make sure you are all back to normal and then carry on where you left off. Believe me, I have tried to complete so many stories while I have been tired/sick/stroppy/grumpy/PMS/slightly drunk or all of the above and it’s not worth it…well the wee odd glass of wine now and then is fine for me but you know what I mean.

For me anyway, I have found in the past that there is no point in trying to write when there are two many other things happening n your life, like me when I a) decided to de-clutter the house to put on the market, having seen the house of your dreams that is now up for sale (very time-consuming and not worth the effort after all) or b) if the scenario mentioned above actually happens – it’s like pulling teeth or eating brussel sprouts (whichever you detest more) and your writing is not in a good place when that happens, unless of course that is your genre of writing.

I’m not sure pre-school kids would like to hear the story about the red, forlorn annoying, uncaring rabbit that couldn’t eat a carrot because it was selfish and didn’t brush its teeth and they all fell out…no, they want to hear about the fluffy white rabbit, who helps tidy his room, make his bed and brush his teeth for two minutes like all the other lovely rabbits before they drift off to sleep.

I spent a few hours yesterday looking through all the documents on my lap top that I have started during one of these ‘spells’, documents that I haven’t opened for a long, long time (one was dated 2008!). Let’s just say the delete key was put to good use.  I found so many morose and lethargic rhymes and stories I have created while being under my ‘dark cloud’ that I would be ashamed to admit to anyone IT WAS ME – I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT DRIVEL! I hang my head in shame and hope that no-one can see into my electronic waste bin.

So, putting all that aside, here’s how my day normally goes if all is well in my little world:

Early run to stave off love handles (if I don’t throw my alarm at the wall), school drop off, cuppa, catch up on e-mails, read over last chapter, write at least one more chapter, break for lunch/catch up with twitter (my new best friend!), back to chapter or start next chapter, read a chapter from a different genre book than what I am writing to help clear my mind (crime works well for me), pick up kids, homework, sports clubs/cubs etc, dinner, children asleep, glass of wine/real coffee (not just your standard instant cos I’m allowed one proper cup a day so it’s got to be great), relax/proper chat with husband rather than frenzied dinner table chat with everyone trying to tell our daily news at the same time, too relaxed so I fall asleep on sofa, husband wakes me up because I have started to snore and sends me to bed…

Everyone is different and I can’t follow this routine every day otherwise I would go quietly insane – I may be a writer but I still require social interaction with other human beings at some point. If you still can’t get into your writing mode then leave the house, talk to people, cafes are great places to chat – ‘annoy’ the staff but don’t sing to them (hands up – it was me), you might even get a free fill-up.

There are so many places for writers to go during the day:

Local library – they have fantastic events on or even grab a cushion and watch the world go by while you read

Museums – looking for inspiration then look no further, as these vast and majestic buildings have all the ingredients you need to get your brain whirring again.

Read – I can’t stress this enough, read, read and read some more. If you’re struggling with some poetry, read one of your favourite poets or try one you haven’t read before, how do they create what they are trying to say? Read outdoors, on the bus (although I fell sick when I do that sometimes) or on the beach. Wherever is different for you and can help blow some cobwebs away.

If none of the above work then try this:

1. Close your lap top/PC

2. Regardless of the weather, step outside for five minutes (set an alarm on your phone if you want to)

3. Close your eyes and listen, really listen

4. Take some deep breaths and relax your shoulders (we will all end up with no necks if we don’t do this!)

5. Go back inside

6. Open your laptop and create a brand new document

7. Write everything down that you have just heard while standing outside – it doesn’t have to be sentences or even make sense. Get it all down and read it over.

Now you can go back to your exciting and wonderful novel/poem/chapter, safe in the knowledge that whatever it was that was bothering you has now been pushed that little bit further out of your mind to let the good stuff come tumbling out and fill up the crisp clean page sitting in front of you.

And if that fails, walk away. There’s always tomorrow and there’s always someone in the same boat.

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