Monday, 18 April 2016

Twenty Words

“Do you write every day?” a student asked, when they emailed their latest assignment.

“Yes,” I replied.

“I wish I had the time to sit down and write every day. But some days I barely get ten minutes to myself.”

I could almost hear the sigh of despondency in her response. And then the penny dropped. (As some of you know, I can be quite slow on the uptake at times.) Many people assume that when I say I write every day it means I sit down and write a complete article, an entire short story or the whole chapter of my latest novel every day. I wish.

Don’t get me wrong. I do have days when a lot of writing gets done. Last Thursday, for example, I drafted the 1700 words for the next piece in my Writing Magazine column. But the day before I only wrote 20 words. Yes. Twenty. Not because I had the back of my hand clasped to my forehead in frustration at the failed appearance of the Muse that day. It was only 20 words because life got in the way. 

It’s a new tax year, so I was experiencing the joys of gathering one’s paperwork together in preparation for the tax return. I also had to drive a relative to their appointment at the physiotherapy department. And the driveway was being tarmacked, which involved the noisiest and most earth-shuddering equipment known on the planet operating just a foot away on the other side of my office wall.

But I still managed 20 words. It was the opening to a short story. I haven’t got any further with that particular project at the moment, but hopefully, this week, I’ll be able to develop it further.

Even though it was only 20 words, it was still some writing. Writing every day doesn’t mean you have to write complete pieces. It just means … writing. Something. Anything.

The next time you’re waiting for a bus, or a train, get out a notepad and pen (or your notes app on your smartphone) and write something. Write the opening paragraph to an article, or a short story. Write six opening paragraphs. You don’t have to develop them all. But one might inspire you to carry on with it at a later date, when you have more time. Keep writing until the bus/train comes. Then, when you step on board, you can sit down with the smug satisfaction that you’ve done some writing today. (and why not continue writing, if you’re not too worried about missing your stop?)

It might not be much. But you have written. And that’s what makes people writers.


Good luck. 

14 comments:

  1. At least by writing my blog most days means I get some writing done, and even that can be hard work too. Like you say Simon, life does get in the way and it's not just writing plans go haywire is it? Other plans made may well come to nowt because of life changes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, I quite agree! Having just spent the morning away from my desk taking relatives to physio and then doing the food shopping, and dropping stuff at the tip and ... well, that's how it goes sometimes, isn't it? But now I've written this response to your posting. So I have done some writing today now, haven't I? ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes I agree to you. The same happens with me.

    I think I will get more confident about my writing.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We all have good days and bad days. But by writing just a handful of words on a bad day still means it was productive. And that will also help with your confidence. Good luck!

      Delete
    2. Thanks for these encouraging words. The thoughts are always there and yes, life gets in the way causing me to forget and NOT WRITE THESE THOUGHTS somewhere.

      Delete
    3. To write every day is always at the forefront of my mind and it's the most relaxing alternative for me but like you said, life gets in the way and so easily I'm pulled into the daily duties of my life. Thanks for the reminder Simon.

      Delete
  4. Yes I agree to you. The same happens with me.

    I think I will get more confident about my writing.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great post, Simon. And sometimes, a day or two jotting, brings forth a morning of 'Full steam Ahead' writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely! Sometimes we just need our brains to catch up ;-) And when they do - phew!

      Delete
  6. Can anyone be too busy to write 20 words a day. When I was working full-time, running a house and bringing up two kids I'd write at the bus stop, in my coffee breaks, in bed before going to sleep - I'd snatch any moment I could. They are there if you look for them.

    ReplyDelete
  7. My challenge is that after jotting down all those opening lines I seldom go back to them. I get to see them months later and for the life of me can't remember what inspired the thought.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah! Easily done. Try reviewing those jottings on a regular basis - say once a week. You might find some of it is still fresh in your memory, enabling you to take it further.

      Delete