There’s one thing I’ve known almost as long as I’ve been a writer: you must make time for writing.
I guess every writer has experienced that moment when someone met by chance, learning what you do, says ‘I could write a book, if only I had the time.’ And you bite your tongue rather than say, ‘If you really were a writer, you’d make the time.’ That’s what a writer is after all, someone who writes.
But just lately I’ve been letting things slip. I’ve been guilty of too much of that common writer’s sin, displacement activity. True, it is hard being a self-published writer. It was very much easier when all I had to do was write the book, and then let my publisher do all the rest – editing, deciding on the font, designing the cover, printing the book, publicising it, getting shops to stock it. A self-published writer has to do all or most of that stuff herself. ‘When on earth are we supposed to find the time to write?’ we cry.
So, I’ve let myself get bogged down in editing, correcting, publicising and so on, and let the actual creative stuff lie fallow. All right, I’ve had other excuses – Christmas, New Year, lots of entertaining, visitors, ‘flu – but in the end that just won’t do. Writers write. I’ve got two novels and a clutch of short stories awaiting my attention. It’s no wonder I’ve felt uneasy and restless, bogged down in daily demands on my time.
This week I decided: I am going to get back to doing my 1000 words a day, minimum, and stick to it except when I have to acknowledge it’s just not possible (like the three precious days next week with my grandsons). All the other things must fit round that schedule.
So far, I’ve clocked up nearly 3000 words in two days. Pretty good going.
Of course, this is still at rough draft stage, which means the crucial thing is to bash out the words, lots of words, before rewriting and shaping them into something remotely readable. The next stage, the second draft, is where the real hard work begins.
But I’m back on track. It feels good. I can call myself a writer again.
“Writers write.” It took me a long time to realise the truth of that obvious statement. I felt like a writer. But I didn’t write like one. These days, I’m lucky enough to work part time in a job I can leave behind when I walk out of the building, which gives me extra days in the week to do just what I always felt I wanted to be – a writer.
I suppose I’ve been lucky to have had a good deal of time to write, though sometimes it’s been hard, even impossible. Life can get in the way— but also feed into what one writes later on.