Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The Importance of Self-Support by Lynn Huggins-Cooper

Hmm...that title makes it sound as though I am going to be writing about Spanx, or something that 'lifts and separates' - and at fifty-one, I truly understand what my mother meant about the importance of supportive undergarments. However, I meant writing support.

I have recently instituted a new rule. I set my alarm two hours early, have a quick cuddle with my sleepy husband, then make a huge pot of tea. I sit at my desk and write until I have at least a thousand words of my latest manuscript. I know that isn't a huge daily word count; I see many writer friends talking on Facebook about their five thousand or more words produced, but I am really happy with it.

The thing is, previously I had been writing every day, but that has been commissioned educational work, or non fiction, or teaching and mentoring notes and critiques. Thousands of words every day, but none of them words for my novel. By the time it got to evening, I was too tired to write any more. So the novel - seen by two agents who were interested in seeing more - languished and made no real progress. Even that interest was not enough to make me write!

I had been through a period of great stress and anxiety; loss and bereavement, and huge changes in my life had knocked the stuffing out of me, I think. You'd think a bereavement counselor would be a little better at recognising the signs, but strangely, no. My writing took a back seat, and my self confidence was low. I was in my very own slough of despond.

I don't know what changed. Possibly just the knowledge that I kept sinking, and that every time I stopped writing, it just reinforced my sense of uselessness. Something, as they say, had to give.

Getting up earlier is a pain, but it is working for me. I 'expect' to write every morning, and have given myself permission to write 'on spec.' That's been a real breakthrough for me, as for several years now I have written very little in this way, and I am loving it. I have had fantastic support from my writing groups both online and in person, and that has made a huge difference to the 'keeping going' factor. Yet until I truly committed myself to the project, the work didn't happen.

I currently have forty six thousand words, and some of them are even good ones. The important thing is, though, that I am writing this novel daily. That is keeping my head in its world, so the ideas are composting even when I am working on something else.

I finally feel like a writer again.


Penny Dolan said...

Wishing you many more good and productive mornings like these, Lynn. A good tip and now is certainly the time of year for trying out this "early rising" approach.

Julie Sykes said...

Good luck Lynn. Lots and lots of it to add to all your hard work.

Joan Lennon said...

Well done you! (And 1000 words a day is a VERY GOOD word count! Two writers in this house and we set each other 500 words a day, so you're twice as prolific as the both of us ... there's maths in there somewhere, but you get the idea.)

Sue Purkiss said...

Good luck and carry on!

LynnHC said...

Thanks so much folks :) I am thoroughly enjoying it :)