Thursday, February 10, 2011

How To Be A Writer Part 2: Be Obsessed

So, now that you have your sacred writing space taken care of, the next thing you need to do is write. 

This is my favorite mug... (on the other side it has 'Romance writers make novel lovers').

The washing will wait, so will the tidying, and the cleaning, and the cooking.  I put writing first.  I have to put writing first or it will disappear entirely, and the damn book will never be finished.  Then I'm left feeling irritated, frustrated, overwhelmed and cranky.  I am a much nicer person when writing comes first, trust me.

I'm not saying that anyone needs to spend four, five, ten hours a day writing whilst their beautiful children turn into tv zombies and quietly (or not so quietly) starve to death.  But I give myself some time every day to write, and then get on with the chores.  That is being a writer.  Ten minutes of writing on a hellish, out of control day, is going to still makes me feel like I'm getting somewhere.  Not opening my manuscript, but having all the laundry neatly folded, does not move me closer to my goal. 

Being engaged with your writing is also something that'll keep you moving forward. So, if I'm early to pick up the kids, I spend that ten minutes focussing on my plot, plot problems and holes, having ideas, considering character.  I jot down notes, often on the back of old receipts which I then lose and spend fruitless time searching for only to find them three months later on the floor of the car. 

Its not just using down time either - when you are busy doing things that don't really engage your brain, get into the habit of thinking about your work.  I believe it was Agatha Christie who said she got her best ideas when she was doing the washing up.

This all might sound a touch obsessive, but seriously, to push through and get an 100,000 word manuscript written needs a touch of obsession.  I have calculated that to get 100,000 publishable words, I write in excess of 300,000 words (that also has a lot to do with my writing style, and other writers don't work that way).  When you have a busy life (and who doesn't) and conflicting priorities, you need to be very focused on what you want, and how you are going to get it.

You want to be a writer, then you write.


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Anonymous said...

Good for you for staying focused. Now, stop writing your blog, and start writing your book!! Just kidding.

Sue, Joe and Michael Webber said...

One good way of dealing with piles of ironing is just not to do it! :D I hang it out neatly, I fold it neatly, voila! No ironing! Failing that, move your sofa into such a position so that it is at an angle across a corner in a room, creating, as it were, a triangle. Then grab the washing in your arms, try to get as much gathered as you can, you may need to tuck undies under your arm and tuck socks in your bra, but you may not get as many socks down there now you've lost that ample bosom! Dieting is bad! Once clothing pile is gathered, then carefully make you way to the sofa. It's often a good idea to check the path is clear before the gathering! Make way carefully to sofa, step up on sofa and lean over the back of said sofa and release the gathered clothes. If you have positioned the sofa carefully you shouldn't be able anything from the front as you step away. Another word of warning, quite important actually, do not try to mount the sofa at speed, remember that your arms are full and may upset your body's equilibrium and you may find that you may not stop in time and could in fact end up tipping over the top of the sofa with the clothing. This is NOT a good look, it may also be some time before someone hears your muffled cries or sees your feet sticking up above back of the sofa. So Caitlyn, be warned and be safe!

Anonymous said...

Good to see your sacred writing space looks similar to mine.
" want to be a writer, then you write". Sounds good to me.

Caitlyn Nicholas said...


Oh Sue, I read this yesterday and then read it out to hubs and then mum and am still reading it and snickering away :)

cityhippyfarmgirl it sounds like such a simple thing, but in reality!

Suzanne Brandyn said...

LOL I like Mels comemnt. :)

I'm off to write the rest of synopsis now.

Happy writing Cait. :)

cityhippyfarmgirl said...

Good to see your sacred writing space looks similar to mine.
" want to be a writer, then you write". Sounds good to me.