Friday, 18 October 2013

I should be writing! What stops you getting words onto the page? -- Linda Strachan

How often have you started something that isn't your 'work in progress', and thought... I should be writing?

There are so many things that get in the way of doing the one thing that I want to be doing - that is, spending time with my characters, getting the words written, editing and working them up, living in the story - and yet I find it is often the last thing on the list of urgent things to do.

Time ticks by relentlessly.  I find it is even worse when I don't actually have a specific deadline. Deadlines focus my mind and grab my attention! without them it is easy to look up and find another hour, morning, or whole day has gone by. 

Yet here I am writing a blog.... or updating my website... or facebook... or twitter... or answering and writing emails.....

 ... or travelling around the country, visiting schools, talking about writing, running writing workshops, and there is also the time spent in the organising and planning that all these things require.

Going for walks, definitely something to be recommended, and it is thinking time .... if I am on my own!

Doubtful Sound - New Zealand

Holidays and travelling add to that toolbox of images and textures that add tremendously to your writing.....

Friends and family also make up an important part of my life and those are definitely times to be treasured.

These interactions also add to the understanding of the emotions and difficulties life throws at people, that any writer needs to create real and interesting characters.

But while doing all these other things, part of me is longing to get back into Tuscany (my shed) and close the door on the world. I want to get back to working on the book, getting into my characters' lives, and finding out what they have been doing while I've been away!

 Don't get me wrong I love all the people and the varied things that make up my life but sometimes I think... I really should be writing. So I'm not here, now. No excuses.  I'm off out there.. writing!

What takes you from your writing?


Linda Strachan is the author of over 60 books for all ages from picture books to teenage novels and a writing handbook   Writing For Children 
Her latest YA novel is Don't Judge Me  

Patron of Reading to Liberton High School, Edinburgh 

blog: Bookwords


JO said...

If I had to choose between writing and going back to Doubtful Sound I'd have my bag packed in an instant!!

John Dougherty said...

More than anything else, it's the word 'should'!

Penny Dolan said...

All the other things in the media that sound so much more interesting than my own petty voice? Distractions are so much easier than writing.

Can't believe I wrote that. It's definitely time to get the timer out and mset a 30 min head down slot.

Agree that the "should" word does sound like the knell of doom, John.

Linda Strachan said...

Yes, Jo, me too, but I was thinking more of the day to day stuff! Holidays are always in order if at all possible and Doubtful was fantastic!

That terrible word 'should' you are right, John and Penny, it needs to be banned!

The timer is always good one. I think I should possibly book in writing time as I would a school visit or other event. Wonder if that would work? :)

Lari Don said...

What stops me writing? In two words: My kids. (And that was said with feeling, during school holidays, in a house filled with half a dozen children, only two of whom are mine...) But that's also simplistic and unfair. I would write more if I didn't spend so much time with my kids, and I'd certainly write more if I didn't have children. But I wouldn't write the same books, because they are inspired, in part, by my children and the insights they have given me into what they are fascinated and excited by. The same could be said of school events - I'd write a lot more if I didn't spend so much time organising, travelling to and doing school visits. But I wouldn't get the feedback which allows me to write for all ages... So, actually, probably most of the things which stop me writing every minute of the day are also the things which make me a better writer! Back off to spend time with children now. Great blog post!

Savita Kalhan said...

Distractions are necessary and definitely very important - up to a point! Without them I think I'd be a hermit. It's the 'up to a point' part that can get blurred, and that's when I know I'm in trouble! I'm working on dividing up the distractions into neat little parcels to be dipped into at intervals. So far it's working...I think.

sensibilia said...

Well, reading fascinating blogs, like this one every day, obviously holds me up, but then I often gain insights and sometimes inspiration as well.

The biggest blockage at the moment is the return of an adult child (aged 26) to the nest, ten days ago. I haven't been able to write a word since. There is a whole new relationship to be worked through, and it is hard work, both physically (all that extra shopping and cooking) and emotionally (marking new boundaries). I am progressing, I feel. We haven't had a full-on explosive row, and she is learning that she can no longer rely on the unstinting support she got as a child. It hurts to say no, but I have been doing that.

Linda Strachan said...

Lari, that is exactly it. Children take up lots of time and energy but they are a wonderful source of ideas and questions about life in general. Even the 'Why can;t I...?' questions are food for thought for a writer. What is it that they don't understand about why too much cake is not good, or staying up too late, when it seems obvious to us as adults.

But the difference between a sensible decision when it flies in the face of what we really want to do is something we all fight with all our lives and can create characters that are conflicted or driven.

Sensibilia grown up children coming home is always a struggle and that decision to say no, which is difficult for you but you know is better for them in the long run, is just another facet of life well worth exploring in fiction!

I like the idea of neat little parcels, Savita, using distractions as rewards.