I have few problems with self-discipline as a writer. Even when I feel reluctant I can write. I can pluck ideas and content from the air and turn them into something readable. As I define myself first and foremost as a writer, I try to make the first thing I do every day my writing. Well, maybe after a quick look at Twitter.
I actually don’t feel right if I don’t. My aim is to work for two hours and write 2,000 words or review 3,000 – 10,000 – or some carefully calculated combination of the three. I don’t always make it and so I also write at weekends and whilst on holiday. I’ve not quite caught up.
And occasionally if a deadline looms I’ll do more – and be grateful that I’m being “forced” to spend more time writing.
Life gets in the way
Yes, it does, even for me. Take today. At 9.30 I must set off, in the rain, to another campus ten minutes walk away. I’m teaching for three hours. I’m delivering a lecture on a professional approach to getting published, followed by a two hour workshop. All good stuff and actually enhancing my “writerly” life. Then I’ll have lunch and when I get back to my office there is a phone call I must really make and then I should get down to the daily trudge through my emails.
So, yes I have every sympathy with others who have life issues: getting the children to school, visiting an elderly relation or working for a living.
But you can always carry on later, right?
The trouble is, it’s not just a question of time. There is also brain space. Yesterday at the end of a busy teaching and admin day I found half an hour to write. However, I didn’t have the creative energy. I phoned a friend instead. What would have been an incredibly easy task at 8.00 a..m. looked impossible at 6.00 p.m. .
Today I’ll probably do about 45 minutes before I set off for my lecture. I’ll have cleared my desk, if I’m lucky, by about 4.00. But I also have some prep today for tomorrow.
I may find I can do a little after supper this evening. The drive home, eating a meal and talking to my husband for a while creates a hiatus that calms the overactive mind. The creative energy for me personally isn’t quite as good at that time as first thing in the morning. But it’s better than not writing.
The sacred routine
At times I really have to be determined. The important phone call and some admin details are nagging away in my mind and I’m having to tell myself they can be dealt with later. There has to be a time-space that is sacrosanct. But once I’ve paid my homage to that, in fact, I’ll spend as long as it takes on the other stuff. My conscience remains clear. In the end, if we wish to be writers, we must write. Regularly.