I’ve been quiet on here, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. In fact, a couple of weeks ago I decided to take a week to experiment with writing full-time, in an attempt to compensate slightly for the ridiculous year of paid work I’ve just finished.
It was…interesting. Definitely a good experience, and a good thing to do, but I had a few surprises along the way. Here are a few things I learned:
- Big wodges of time = more words. This is a no-brainer, but I was slightly afraid that, having given myself a week off paid work, I’d waste it watching youtube videos or messing about on facebook. Bottom line: I didn’t, although I did develop a few strategies to keep me focused.
- Life is better with Leechblock. Or insert the name of your preferred website blocker here. I’ve banned myself from facebook and twitter during working hours (which is also paying off in my paid work), and reinstalled a program called Internet Lock which I bought ages ago and had forgotten about. It blocks the internet for you, so I set that to run for several hours each day. I can override it, but generally the process of overriding the settings slows me down enough that I can talk myself back into at least attempting writing (and leaving the internet block in place).
- I spend way too much time getting angry about current affairs. I mean, I think we should all be angry about current affairs, because if you’re not angry you’re not going to do anything about it. But I can be engaged and active without checking facebook every ten minutes and following every news link posted.
- Spending an hour at a time on a writing project really does cement it in your brain. I’d find myself working out a plot problem as I drifted off to sleep at night, or wandering up to the shops. And the characters got talkier, which was great fun.
- Writing is HARD. Granted, I maybe didn’t choose the best week to try it full-time because of distressing things happening in my personal life, but even so, I found it exhausting.
- And emotionally taxing. Again, this probably wasn’t the best time to throw myself into my projects, but I found that I was a little more ground down at the end of each day than I had been on the previous one.
- If you’re writing on a topic that upsets you, be gentle with yourself and make sure you have care routines or a support system in place. Or, I don’t know, write something else that is purely for fun on the sly. But find a way to look after yourself if you’re putting yourself through the emotional wringer.
- The only way out is through. I think most writers know this, but it’s so easy to hesitate about actually putting words on the page because you’re “working some things out”, or planning, or simply staring at the screen. Planning is great, IMO! But at some point, at least as far as I’m concerned, I have to try writing stuff out in order to figure out if it works. No amount of planning will compensate for words on the page.
- It’s much easier to get words on the page if you give it time. I saw tangible progress with both books during the course of the week – progress that might have taken me months at my previous rate.
Has anyone reading this tried something similar? If so I’d love to hear your experiences!
This week I am experimenting with writing first thing in the morning. I’ll update about that in a few days. 🙂