7th June 2014

Turning the writing switch to ‘ON’

I’ve been procrastinating a bit lately. I have a children’s novel to re-draft and have got as far as sketching out ideas for how to do this and that’s as far as I’ve got. I really should be working on it – after all, I’ve already spent two years writing it and I have a list of people to send it to once done. But somehow, I haven’t been able to settle to it. There are a lot of feelings that go along with that resistance, including the annoying voices yelling at me:

“Well, you’re not a proper writer if you don’t do *,000 words every day.”


“How do you ever expect to get a book published if you’re just going to sit and drink tea and STARE out of the window?”

I HATE those voices. All they serve to do is generate even more avoidance strategies. But, there is an element of truth in them too, isn’t there? The words won’t drip from the pen if I don’t pick it up!

So, in at attempt to get back into authorly mode, I decided to update my Contact an Author page. In case you don’t know, Contact an Author is a site for published authors to list themselves as available for workshops/visits/talks etc. For the £45 registration fee, it really is worth it. In fact, the majority of my visits have come via this site. Anyway, two days after giving my page – which you can see here – a bit of a facelift, I was contacted by a lady from The Kumon Crookes English and Maths Study Centre, asking if I could do a visit for their Community Reading Event on 19th July to raise money for The National Literacy Trust. Of course, I said ‘yes’. For those of you who have done writerly type events before, you’ll know this means a flurry of planning: ordering copies of your books, preparing resources and counting how many you have of this and that – it is destined to get a procrastinating author back into authorly mode.

Amelie-0560But I still didn’t feel like writing and definitely wasn’t ready to tackle that manuscript. So I sat down to watch a film – Amelie. Okay, it came out thirteen years ago – I am a bit late! But, it matters not. It was fabulous! Wonderful! Inspiring! You can see a clip here. I went to bed with a smile on my face, ideas buzzing, and dreamt strange and quirky dreams. I woke with a new female character in my head and made a couple of pages of notes on her. Then It got me thinking about a male character I’ve been jotting down some ideas for along with a vague plot outline. I wondered if I could tie the two ideas together, and as I thought about how that might happen it started to happen. The beginnings of the something (that may turn out to be something and may turn out to be nothing) are in here and I rather like them:
New novel ideas

Okay, I STILL haven’t tackled the problematic manuscript yet, but now I know I will because I am back in that place where I feel I can, where I feel the story deserves it. I also know that while I am tackling the nitty gritty of plotting and fine-tuning the troublesome manuscript, I can be collating ideas and images for THE NEW IDEA, which also means a new Pinterest board… yippee! You see, I am getting excited about writing all over again!

And, an unexpected plus of the above is that watching Amelie reminded me how much I love French films. There’s something about hearing the words in such a beautiful language (with subtitles, of course) and the artistry and imagination that goes into their making. Needless to say, I have just ordered three more and can’t wait to watch them and wait to be inspired.

I guess what I’m saying is this: sometimes, it’s the little things that kick-start us again, and maybe we just have to cut ourselves some slack once in a while, bat away the whining, self-deprecating voices, and allow things to happen when they’re meant to. There will always be something that turns that switch to ‘ON’ again.

What turns your off switch to on?



10 responses to “7th June 2014

  1. What turns it on? Generally reminding myself that the alternative is sitting about for decades wishing wondering what would have happened if I’d got the wretched thing written!! One day with a rotten cold and resorting to daytime telly is enough to send me scurrying back to the computer!

  2. That x hours/words a day approach has never worked for me, Abi. The fallow time is where all the exciting stuff happens, ideas develop in the unconscious mind, including redrafting ideas. When I give as much time to that as it wants, the actual writing is a billion times easier and quicker, so instead of 8 hours forcing myself to stay at the computer and write, when I actually start, the writing flows. Creative time is elastic like that. As long as I’m holding my idea in the back of my mind, that’s work time as far as I’m concerned. I’m glad you’re feeling your way back towards getting stuck in again 🙂

  3. Amelie is one of my top five favourite films of all time! So beautiful 🙂 And I agree with Jenny, the procrastination is actually part of the writing, in a weird way. Though allowing yourself to think of it like that is hard because to anyone else it looks like you’re just wasting time!

    • Yay! It is a fabulous film, Jo. And yes, you’re right. There’s this kind of pressure somehow that we put on ourselves (at least I have) to physically write. That’s not how it happens is it? Head time IS writing time. I am gradually coming round to accepting that this is okay… in fact, it is good!

  4. I’m so glad you said that, Jenny, that’s exactly how I feel about it too. I have tried with the x amount of time/words a day, but it feels forced and just doesn’t work for me either, and as you say, all those thoughts and ideas need time to develop and grow. Thanks for such a reassuring response 🙂

  5. I’m so pleased to see you’ve found your writing mojo again. It is hard to shut the nasty voices out but stick your tongue out at them and do what you do best, write \9when it feels right to you)

  6. Oh, yes. I’m familiar with these silly voices in the back of my mind.

    Sometimes it’s good to get away from your manuscript for a little while. Take time to investigate other interests. Like French films. 🙂 Your manuscript is always working itself out in the back of your mind and when you return to the page you’ll have a fresh perspective.

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