A new mini-series in which I explore how we start writing.

We start writing seriously when we finally accept that there is nothing we would rather do, than sit all day and craft a story.  Or explain something that is dear to our hearts.  Or cut a swathe through old literature with a bright new perspective.

Writing – or communicating with others – has to be what motivates us to leave aside the laundry, work late at night, ignore the telephone and neglect to cook complicated meals.  In short, it has to be something of an obsession.  If it is not, we will fail to prioritise it enough, give it our love, our thought, our energy, tears and precious time.

For every writer out there who does write and who is struggling to make it, there will be many dozens who say, “Yes, I would love to write, and I would be good at it, too.  I have a great story to tell….” but who will look askance when it is suggested that they could put pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard. “Yes, of course I would love to, but once I got started, I would never stop, and I have too much else to do!”  Then, no matter how good our story, no matter how perfect our writing style or how witty our voice, nothing can happen.  We write when we sit down to write, and nothing else will do.  Simple.

Eugène_Grasset-Encre_L_MarquetActually….not so simple.  As soon as we sit down to write, a dozen or twenty other things that we “ought to be doing” will pop into our heads for a look see how we wasted five hours today.  Everyone, is seems, has something better to do than write.  Perhaps it is a very British obsession, this idea that we should be occupied with something ‘more worthwhile’.  Sooner or later, most writers have to consider how they will handle the critic in their heads that suggests they “should” be doing something else more sensible, practical or lucrative.  That voice, which talks such convincing common sense, may come from our family members, from disillusioned parents who only want the best for us; from our spouse who is worried about the monthly payments; from our colleagues who think we should stop taking all this creative stuff so seriously; from other writers who see nothing but difficulty and disillusionment coming our way, and from ourselves, when we are unused to doing something as frivolous as actually writing a book from start to finish.

(To be continued)

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