Mixing Writing with Real Life

I’ve come back to writing fiction after ten years of editing and lecturing.  A lot has changed in those ten years and the way I write is now very different. I plan my work carefully and I research it more thoroughly.  When I sit down in the morning I have a much stronger idea of what I want to say.  I still find myself padding around my study looking for the courage to pick up my pencil but that settling in time probably takes about 30 minutes when it used to take hours.

Admittedly I am ten years older but a lot of the change is because I only have a fraction of the time I used to.  In the good old days I would save up my money and then rent an out-of-season holiday cottage somewhere suitably remote and write manically for a couple of months until I had finished a draft or the isolation got too much for me.

It was a romantic way of working but its not a regime you can combine with a husband, a dog and two children.  Now I write in the morning after school drop off, do the household chores after lunch and rush to pick up the children at 3.15pm.  I have so many more distractions that I have to be more focussed and disciplined and make sure the time I have is used for writing and writing alone.

The big question is whether the quality of my writing suffers and I think I can honestly say it doesn’t and if anything it has got a little better.  So was I wasting my time before?  Well, no I don’t think I was.  I needed it then but I don’t now.  As my mother used to say ‘If you want something done, give it to someone who’s busy.’

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3 Responses to Mixing Writing with Real Life

  1. George says:

    and i feel that I am coming back to reading after 10 years away :) :) ……

  2. Emma Darwin says:

    And I know people who were fed up trying to squeeze writing into a busy other life, and finally managed to shrink or bin the day job (or the children)… and found they didn’t actually get any more written with acres of the day to write in.

    I do actually believe that you can learn to climb inside your writing head more quickly and reliably, if you need to and want to The real key, it seems to me, is that if you can only write a little at once, you write often, so that it never goes off the boil. My life shifted from having 48 hrs to write every two weeks, to having 4hrs to write spread across 12 days. i.e., exactly the same hours per fortnight. But I got twice as much done in the second regime, because it was daily. Before, I spent most of the Saturday getting thawing and reheating the work before I could start cooking again. After, it was still simmering from yesterday, and only took a few minutes for me to bring it to the boil.

    • Emma Darwin says:


      “My life shifted from having 48 hrs to write every two weeks, to having 4hrs to write ON EACH OF 12 days. i.e., exactly the same hours per fortnight”

      and I got my website address wrong on the last one!

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