‘Help! I can’t write a book’.

Okay, I have to admit, this was a new idea for me, a novel perspective – excuse the pun – but thanks to a FB post by Rachel A Dyson, I am currently obsessed with a new thought, a new possibility that there are writers out there who write well, and with discipline, and who are brilliant editors, but for whom the challenge is to write enough words to make a full-length book.

There are lots of strategies we can use to help us handle the slightly scary notion that if we wish to write a book, it is up to us to pen something in excess of sixty thousand words into story-like order.  For example, a short story = 3000 words; one short story a fortnight = 78,000 words.  Or if we write novellas @ 30,000 words each, just write three of these.

But why would a great writer have problems writing a full length work in less than ten years?  Actually, it can take that long, and for some, it is the price of success.  Not everyone has the time, inclination, discipline or method that allows them to churn out a book a year, though personally, I feel that one book a year is a reasonably comfortable ambition, assuming we don’t have an editor breathing down our necks, insisting that we procure a book a year, which is an entirely different proposition.


Perhaps our fingers clam up and our minds go blank because we feel self-conscious about the process of writing, or we grill ourselves into expecting that we should be writing because this is our writing time.

Oddly, I have discovered recently that I do much of my best creative work when I’m about to take daughter fencing, or while I’m making pancakes – the batter has to cook on both sides, so I have a comfortable two minutes on the first side, and one minute on the second side.  It helps wile away the boredom of standing in the kitchen, and I can get a surprising amount written in a hurry when I have to get back to the stove right away.  Or when I should have been going out ten minutes ago: When I don’t plan to, and there is no heavy, empty white page in the diary screaming, “THIS IS YOUR WRITING TIME, AND BY GOLLY, YOU WILL WRITE” that is when I find myself set free.

The pressure of other jobs to do, of people wanting their next meal and of tradesmen expected, can be brilliant for forcing us to simply dream up the wildest, craziest ideas and run with them.  But then, I’ve always been a contrary soul.

(To be continued.)

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