I was listening to a podcast from The Bestseller Experiment in which Sarah Pinborough (currently topping charts and twitter channels with her novel Behind Her Eyes) was talking about how she writes. She said that as long as she was thinking about her writing every day, then it didn’t matter that she wasn’t physically writing every day. It’s important that your writing occupies your mind, but it doesn’t necessarily have to occupy your fingers. For me, juggling so many different priorities, this was a bit of an eye-opener.
A lot of conventional writing advice suggests that you need to write every day. Steven King in his ‘On Writing‘ suggests shutting yourself away and setting a writing limit every day, say 2000 words. Which is nice. If you’re not doing anything else. If you’re also trying to parent, teach and basically eat to stay alive, then it’s not so practical.
I also recently followed a six day programme designed to ‘unleash my potential’ at Dare To Grow which was really interesting and information and had loads of useful books to read and targets to set. One of which was basically work through the pain. The message rang true. If you want to achieve something, you’ve got to work hard. Lisa on Dare To Grow talked about this in connection with tiredness – push through the exhaustion barrier. But again, my problem with this is that it’s how it impacts on my children. I sound like I’m making excuses, but I can’t be the mother I need to be if I’m permanently exhausted. Which I would be if I got up earlier every day to write. Which would only make my writing suffer in the long run!
So what’s the answer for an almost-writer like me? I think Sarah Pinborough’s advice is good. I think all the time about my characters and where my book is going – particularly late at night when I’m sure I’m a really annoying bedfellow when I keep switching the light on to make notes! And I write when I have time. Which isn’t as often as it should be. But is enough. Enough so that I can make progress on what I love to do, and what I want to do for the rest of my life, but so that it’s not impacting on my ability to be a good mum and a teacher worthy of her salary.
What’s your approach to writing? Every day, or when you can?