Writing even when you don’t want to

The turning point in Agatha Christie’s career was the moment she stopped writing for pleasure and started looking at it as a job, writing even when she didn’t want to.

Like most aspiring authors I have to fit writing into my normal day, which is already pretty full. There are days, though few and far between, when I don’t want to write. When I’ve been up since 5am with my early-rising children, I’m exhausted and want to go to bed, yet I must write because I can’t just let this be a hobby. So, how do you write when you don’t want to write?

  • Caffeinate. It may not be the healthiest of recommendations, but on the days when I can barely keep my eyes open and my bed is calling to me like a mermaid to a sailor, I take as much caffeine on board as my stomach can handle and wait for it too kick in. God bless that black and glass cafetiere.
  • Meditate. Acknowledge the fatigue, the heavy lids, gritty eyeballs, that strange burning pressure when the eyes close for a few seconds beyond a mere blink. Three minutes of meditation on a bad day, twenty minutes on a great day, and I find myself in a better frame of mind.
  • Turn on the damn PC. Like most things we dread, the anticipation is far worse than the event itself. Once the laptop’s fired up and my fingers are moving I’m happy again, thrilled to be writing and very relieved that I didn’t give in to that devil procrastination.
  • Keep the end goal in sight. I once read an interview with P D James where she advised aspiring authors not to daydream about publication as it’s time better spent writing. This is absolutely true, for the most part. But on days where it’s not so easy to get those fingertips typing, I think the odd daydream is very helpful. Why not imagine the spine of your book peeking out from a shelf in Waterstones? It might be just the reminder you need that, to get it into Waterstones at all, it has to be written in the first place (and rewritten and edited and rewritten and…)
  • See it as Agatha Christie saw it; as a job or, better yet, a responsibility. Write everyday, because you have to, not just because you want to.

Writing a book is a wonderful experience and, I’ve been assured by many who hold it, a wonderful profession. Make the time, keep the time, and you will never regret it.


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