Tuesday 29 May 2012

Writers must write every day....

An email came through announcing the title of a new post from The Editor's Blog, it was entitled 'Writers Must Write Daily.' My immediate thought was 'oh no, not another one!' I was very relieved when I read it to find that Beth Hill was not in fact advocating it. But I have heard it several times before and I have to be honest I am not sure it is actually practical and not totally necessary. In my experience, you can start with this aim of writing every day and ensuring you have time to do it but in actuality life gets in the way. It is not always physically or mentally possible. I am a great believer that you shouldn't beat yourself up if you don't find the time. Instead find moments to write when you can. I know of an author who would only write on every other Saturday, another who is an insomniac who always writes at night. You have to find the right time for you and that is not necessarily going to be the same as everyone else.

You all know, as I have gone on about it ad infinitum, that I have had a lot of marking and teaching going on and this all but stopped me from writing. It didn't, however, stop me from thinking and planning, though I hadn't actually had the time to sit down and write anything or make it into something concrete. It was just a collection of thoughts and images. This was a bit of a worry.  Would I be able to be do it again? Could I still write? A good friend said to me last week, when I spoke to them about it, that writing is a bit like training to be an athlete, it is about resting and going. They were quite right. Your writing brain is like a muscle that needs to be respected, stretched and rested as necessary. Several other friends have given me a great deal of support which then encouraged me to let the denouement suddenly appear earlier in the week. (see the previous post) All from a 'what if...' moment. I had relaxed and stopped worrying which allowed it to happen.

I felt I was all set up and today was the day. The marking and teaching were done. I had the time and the mind space to have a go at writing again. I was excited but also partly terrified. I decided to take an athlete's approach and warm up. My own writer's warm up!

1. Have a long shower and let your brain wander through your story.
2. Straight afterwards splurge on to the page all those ideas and thoughts that came.
3. Go off to read some poetry....any will do, just something you enjoy. I find it helps my brain start thinking in images and stretching itself for the right word.
4. Start writing.....

It worked for me today as I managed to write the first two chapters of the new novel, which were brand new and not a bastardisation of other work. I felt empowered as I also had come up with various ideas as to how my story was going to flow and work. How were my characters going to get together? How would they be in a position to help the main character? I was lucky it all came to me and the relief is enormous.

But I also admit this may not work for you. You have to find your own writerly way but importantly have the guts to follow your instincts and if you can't manage to write every day, don't worry, the world won't come to an end and you will still be a writer.

So here is Sarah Bareilles' Once Upon Another Time for all you writers.


  1. Great post as usual, Ness. But who is this crazy insomniac person who only writes at night???

  2. Do you know her....she writes brilliant books and is a wonderful person and a great friend ;-) x

    1. Aw bless, I'm sure she'd be delighted to know you think so... :-)

  3. Ah, inspired post, my lovely friend! Every word of it so true! And so glad to know the words are flowing for you now that real life is out of the way. Enjoy!

  4. Thank you Nicky, I am sure they will start flowing for you too once you get into that amazing study xx

  5. Oh, Ness, this is brilliant and oh so timely! I have more or less weaned myself off the guilt of not writing daily, but I will be totally embracing your writer's warm up! Thank you.

  6. I went through a period of time where I really beat myself up over not writing every day as it seemed to be 'recommended' by everyone and I couldn't do it. I found work or health would get in the way. Then when I did get time I panicked I wouldn't be able to - are all writers so neurotic? - I found the warm up totally by accident but it really does work for me, clearing all the crap out of my head. I hope it works for you too Sue, let me know x