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.’