Friday, 7 March 2014

Nobody move!

Apart from writing spy thrillers and crime novels, I write a regular column called 'Beginners' in the UK's monthly Writing Magazine (now also online). In it I give lots of advice and tips about the nuts and bolts of actually being a writer; not the technical aspects such as punctuation or syntax or grammar, because I figure most writers have at least a handle on that - or should take the trouble to find out.

It's like being a plumber; you should at least know the basics to even make a start.

My focus in the column (and subsequent book - see below) is the how to get on and do it. Because that's where a lot of would-be writers fall down. They spend too much time thinking about it, talking about it... but never actually getting stuck in and writing anything.

The simplest lesson of all, with any endeavour, is if you don't try, you won't find out whether you're any good at it or whether you enjoy it and want to do more of it.

A bit like sex, really... only the advances are a little different.

Oddly, I've just discovered something I haven't yet covered - and probably won't, at least, not in the column (and I'm not talking about sex).

That's moving house.

Don't do it, is my advice, if you're in the middle of writing a book. It's a killer. Put it off until you're done - the urgency might just inspire you to get your finger out and go for burn.

They say it's the most stressful event we can bring upon ourselves. Yay and no shit, Sherlock. Torquemada could have saved himself a lot of trouble back in the 15th century if he'd made all his victims move house a couple of times; they'd have been throwing themselves off the castle walls in no time.

During the past few weeks, I've experienced more down-time in my writing, more blank moments, more lassitude and more reasons not to start something than ever before. I was just over halfway through my latest project prior to the actual move, and on the home straight, writing-wise. The storyline was in good shape, the characters were doing what I wanted (well, mostly), and I knew where I was headed.

Then came the move... and it all went pear-shaped. And it rained a lot. I wasn't suffering writer's block, because I don't let that beast in the door. But I was thinking pack, move and unpack, and everything would be fine. (Well, it's been 25 years since I last moved, so you could say I was a little out of practice).


However, the sun has showed its beaming face a few times, the birds are singing and the frogs in the pond are doing what frogs do at this time of year - noisily and with lots of splashing. Loads of them.

And yes, that's frogspawn in the water, not tapioca. If the eggs all survive we'll be beating them off with a big stick.

And with this, I'm back on track and writing. Thank you, Mother Nature.

Incidentally, not long ago, 'Beginners' as a column morphed into a book - 'Write On! - The Writer's Help Book'.  I did this because I wanted the columns to be available to a wider audience, and not just those who read or have access to Writing Magazine.

So, with the weekend coming up, if you need any tips or guidance, this title is currently available on Kindle at an absolute steal of a price here at £1.97 or here at $3.27.
Go on - treat yourself.

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