Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Fragile discipline

“I don’t get writer’s block. Ever. It’s a complete myth.”
I have to bite my tongue every time I go to say that.  There are a few others, too:
“Writers write every day.”
“If you’re a writer, you write.”
“If you write you are a writer.”
Oh, yes, I really believe in all of that. And then there are all the exceptions.

My own routine

I try to write for the first two hours of every working day and at some point on weekends and during holidays. Sometimes it’s not possible. Then, I’ll try and write as soon as I can.  Sometimes, like today, I can only manage about forty minutes because my day job demands that I go off and do something else. The problem then is that by the time I get to my laptop my mind is so cluttered with other thoughts that I can’t find the creative energy to write. Having a break helps usually: maybe the drive home from the office or stopping to have supper.

Some days it’s easier, some days it’s harder

I’m now confident that no matter how empty-headed I feel once I start writing the words and the ideas will come. I’m mainly right but not always. Sometimes it’s a real struggle and everything I write seems very poor and I’m dying for the two hours to go by. Interestingly, I’ve found that on these occasions I’m often actually writing better. Okay, it’s that inner critic chuntering but actually he has a point.

Some notable exceptions

Some writers I respect a lot have recently suffered from what we might call “writer’s block”. One is a well-established author who in recent years had a group of “break-though” novels.  How do you follow that? That was his problem.
A friend obtained the coveted PhD, and having gone to his personal limit on that, couldn’t work out for several months how to go on forward.
Another friend is also a brilliant administrator and organiser and full of an energy that is extremely creative leaving little creative space for anything else. He admits to not writing every day.
Again interestingly, as these three got back to work their writing was even richer and even more fine-tuned. They seem to have gone through some sort of incubation period.  

The fragile discipline

Yes we have to be disciplined. Much of the time this seems easy enough. Yet we fear losing that control. A couple of bad days and a few rejections and we might lose our will to go on. Then we must get back up, brush ourselves down and get on with it. It might be worth remembering though that the occasional fallow period can also be ultimately quite productive.     

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