Friday, 31 October 2014

Exercising the Writing Muscle

I’m not a big fan of exercise but sometimes I force myself to do it out of sheer necessity.  Mostly I try to find excuses or rather find other things to do as a means to avoid it.  To my shame, I feel as though I have been doing the same thing with my writing recently.  Is it sheer madness that the very thing I say I love to do, I find 101 excuses not to?

I’ve just been away for a week in the sun and lovely it was too.  As a family, we don’t tend to do highbrow or exotic holidays.  My husband is busiest at work during the summer so whilst everyone else is jetting off to luxurious destinations, I’m usually pet sitting and wondering how to juggle work with entertaining the boys during the long summer break.

So by October half term we are more than ready to get away.  Destinations are fairly limited; we don’t want to travel too far as we only have a week but we do want it to be hot. We usually plump for one of the Canary Islands as the weather there is pretty much guaranteed.

My husband loves the sun.  He rarely sits down at home but give him sunshine and he does a pretty good impression of being comatose.  The boys of course need to be occupied so instead of going exclusive we go cattle market (sorry, slip of the tongue there, I meant to say all-inclusive).

Now, all-inclusive I think, is a bit of a mixed blessing, especially at half-term.  It’s crowded, noisy and there’s usually a fight for the sunbeds each morning – more of that another time.  But the facilities are great for the boys. They have plenty to do, make lots of new friends in a relatively safe environment, eat what they want when they want, and only sulk when we insist on taking them for a walk.

So that’s the other half and the kids taken care of which leaves me plenty of time to read and write.  It’s the closest I get to a writing retreat without abandoning everyone (oh what bliss that would be!)

And yet at the beginning of the holiday I struggled to think of anything to write.  Life has been so hectic that I haven’t had the time or the headspace recently.  But before I came away I emailed some of my ideas files and half written stories to my kindle and I forced myself to write.  Just a little, but I set myself a goal of 500 words a day.  Not a great deal, I know, but it was achievable and as soon as I got into the habit, the writing and ideas started to flow.  As well as finishing some stories which had been languishing in a folder on my computer for too long, I made a list of projects to complete post-holiday, read some writing reference books and even toyed with an idea for a new novel. 

Now I have something to aim for and I just need to keep up the momentum now that I’m back (even if I am drowning under washing and ironing).

So I’ve learnt that writing is like exercise, the more you do it the easier it gets.  I wonder if I’ll be fit by Christmas? 

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

I'm Back - Even Though I Haven't Been Anywhere

I can’t believe it’s over a month since my last blog post.  How can that be? And how can it already be the middle of October when it seems like only yesterday we were celebrating the New Year?

I had hoped that after the disruption of the summer holidays I would be able to get back into some kind of writing routine but alas life, as ever, has conspired against me.

I want to be able to get into a good writing routine but a number of life events, work and family commitments have seemed to get in the way.

Since January I have been working three days a week for a local charity fitting my freelance work, which is unpredictable, around it.  Paid work obviously has to come before my writing desires and so my “hobby” gets shoved to the bottom of the list.

September and October have also been challenging with family commitments several birthdays, sleepovers, appointments and the inevitable football.  My youngest had trials for a county team which added to the grey hairs but sadly he didn’t get in – maybe next time.

And finally there has been a house move – not mine, thankfully, but my parents.  They’ve lived in their old house for a very long time (they moved in when I was six weeks old) and as they are both in their 70’s it was all hands on deck.

So time for writing has been a bit sketchy. It’s so frustrating as I constantly feel as though I’m battling against what I have to do against what I want to do.

I’m amazed sometimes when I hear / read interviews with other authors how they hold down full time jobs, homes and families and yet they also find the time to write prolifically.  It can be done, I know it can, I just need to be more disciplined!

On Monday I found out that my part-time job is being reduced from three days to two.  I’ve worked really hard for the organisation, often putting in extra unpaid hour because I want to do a good job.  I know money is an issue but as my Manager (who is lovely) has requested to reduce her hours by the same amount, I thought I might have a chance of holding on to mine.  A letter slapped on my desk informing me that from January my hours will be reduced felt as though my commitment is simply not appreciated.

I’m a big believer that every negative has a positive and so I have decided from now on I will work set hours, I will go into the office, do what I can and then leave.  I won’t be working flexible hours to suit them and I certainly won’t be doing any unpaid work.  So the positive is that I don’t feel as though I owe them anything.  The other plus is that I have a few months’ notice. Obviously I will try to build up my freelance work to make up the shortfall but more importantly I want to concentrate on trying to do what I want to do most of all – and that is to make some money from writing.

We are going on holiday to Gran Canaria a week tomorrow, so I’m going to make sure I concentrate my mind, and fill my notebook while I’m away. And then when I get back, despite the fact that preparation for the dastardly C word will undoubtedly take up a lot of my time, I’m determined that  the next two months of this year will be my most production ever.