Don't Drive Yourself Too Hard
Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON
One of my friends who is writing a novel is the blogger It's The Little Things and she left a very interesting comment here a few hours ago. ``David,'' she wrote, ``I've learned to write just a portion of a chapter if that is where my inspiration stops. I do not choose to feel guilty if it isn't 'there' on a particular day or two. The days I can't write, I write by hand in my notebook, adding ideas that I need to go back into the typed manuscript to add.''
Today's tip: Recognise when to stop and take a break.
I have always encouraged writers to acknowledge inspiration and take the hard step of getting started, but it is equally important to know when to take a break. Because of the pace of life, especially for parents, it is not always possible to sit down at a computer when inspiration strikes. If an idea occurs to me, I write it down - because there is nothing worse than having a brilliant idea and then losing it forever in the mental fog of a myriad daily chores.
Recognise a moment of inspiration. Write it down. And when you are back at your computer, allow it to guide you. Sometimes these ideas ``write'' themselves, but sometimes they need a lot of sweat and toil to translate into words on a computer screen.
There are times, too, when ideas ebb and flow. But we're human beings, we're not machines, which means that some days our output will be prodigious and on other days it will simply be a trickle of words.
A friend of mine who is a very good writer once told me she was constantly frustrated because she used to get bogged down with her writing. Turned out that she was writing very late at night and would often spend a couple of hours just writing a few paragraphs, getting progressively slower and slower and crankier and crankier. I suggested that she try writing in the afternoon or evening - fitting in with her busy schedule - when her mind was fresher. It worked. She wrote quicker, with more clarity, and found she wasn't propelling herself inexorably towards writer's block.
Treat your brain like a Rolls-Royce engine. Don't blow a gasket!