Showing up to write

This week I joined a writers’ accountability group. We’re the secret seven – a small group of writers (some published, some not) who are troubled with two issues: PROCRASTINATION and FAFFING. Okay, so it’s really one issue, but still …

Each of us has a writer’s goal (or goals) we want to reach, whether long-term (write novel), others are short-term (finish edits), or time-based. And each week we share our weekly goal/s and support each other in our efforts to get there.

My short-term goal is to work on some possible rewrites for Wherever You Go, based on suggestions from the first agent I sent it to. I’m working in another perspective and killing some darlings. I’d like to have this finished by the end of February, before I go to a writer’s retreat in Ireland, and the London Book Fair.

But it’s so easy to faff about and do all sorts of other things, especially when your thinking is blocked – which often happens when I drag myself out of bed for 45-minutes’ writing before work three days a week. I’m tired and ‘Oh look, this bill is due today’ or ‘I’ll just check my emails’, or ‘Awww, the cat wants a cuddle’ and ‘That sunrise is insta-worthy! Where’s my phone?’.

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The other morning I woke up to a bench full of dirty dishes – it was Miss 16’s turn to wash up and she forgot – and I could not leave them. I couldn’t. By the time I’d washed up (I made home-made pasta the night before so there was a lot to do), wiped down the benches and so on, I had 10 minutes’ writing time left. I could have left them for Miss 16, but she was in a fragile state owing to having to go to school with a coldsore, so I chose not to fight that battle. It wasn’t a hard decision. I can’t write if the house is a mess.

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I’ve been reading Still Life With Teapot by Brigid Lowry lately (great book) and among the many gems of wisdom is this: “Either write, or don’t write”. If you can’t be bothered writing, don’t.

But if you delight in words, and you must write:

“Write with every ounce of your being. Write as if your hair is on fire. Be the writing … Don’t wait until tomorrow, next week, after Christmas. There is no perfect time to write.”

Be the writing. Wow.

And then Lowry delivers this kick up the butt:

“Stop whinging about how hard it is. ‘Work with pleasure only,’ as Henry Miller advised. Stop being a lazy bugger. Show up for work everyday and give it everything you’ve got.”

Ouch. But spot on.

I wrote this morning – I could have kept going if the need to get paid didn’t intrude – but I’m realising something more and more. I need to guard my writing time. I need to use it when I have it and not waste it. Not FAFF about.

If I don’t, my accountability group will have words with me.

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