I’ve been really rubbish at taking my own advice this week.
The first draft of my next novel is still oh-so-nearly ready to go, but I have not yet taken the plunge. I have managed to set up a new project in Scrivener – the word count target is there, and the slightly cursory deadline of the end of April. Essentially those are both contrived by how much I know I should be able to write in a day: 1500 words. And if I could do that – if every day I could sit down and just write – then in three months time I would have a novel.
Except to do that I actually need to carve out some time in my day for writing.
People are always really impressed when I tell them I wrote two novels before my son was eighteen months old. But do you know what? That was easy. Sure I was sleep deprived, but he napped twice a day! And other than keeping this blog ticking over during novel number two I didn’t really have all that much else to do.
It’s different now.
I sat down yesterday afternoon to write. I told myself I had to make a start – it didn’t matter if it was rubbish, I just needed to get some words on the page. But they just wouldn’t come! I had the setting and the characters, I knew vaguely what was supposed to be going on in the scene – but there was just so much going on in my head that I just couldn’t focus. More than that, I just couldn’t hear what it was my characters wanted to say.
My mind kept shifting to my to do list, fretting about the press release I have to write for the Town Council, the GCSE specification I need to appraise for Ofqual, the increasing numbers of unread emails in my inbox. And in the midst of all that, my characters stayed silent.
If there is going to be a novel number three, I need to accept that things are going to have to be different this time round.
I’m really lucky that Arthur still has one nap a day – though the fact he’s finally shifted from the sling to the sofa makes it more tempting to use the time for things less static than writing! And even when I am at the computer there are so many other things I need to be getting on with. My life has taken on a new and interesting shape over the past year or so. Vague ideas I had when I first went on maternity leave – like getting more involved in my community and taking on some education consultancy work – have come to fruition. Alongside that my increasing interest in Unschooling, and general reluctance to rush Arthur into formal education, means that he’s still with me most of the time.
So I’m going to need to find some more time, somewhere.
I’ve toyed with the idea of trying to write in the evenings. I might yet be able to do that, but if my brain is starting to sag by mid-afternoon I’m not sure how much creativity it’s going to be able to muster after dark. Besides I do need to fit in spending time with my husband at some point…
So I think, despite this testing my own perception of my abilities to the limit, I’m going to have to do my writing in the mornings.
I am saying this here mainly so you lot can hold me accountable. Ordinarily, I am pretty useless in the mornings. But I figure with Leigh getting up for work at 6am and Arthur tending to sleep till 7.30 there is chunk of time crying out to be used more effectively.
It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m beginning to think it might not be impossible. And to be honest, it’s either that or something else is going to have to give. And I haven’t worked out quite what that might be yet…
So pre-dawn writing sessions here we come. Wish me luck!