I have just read Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg. I need to share, with anyone who might be out there, who fancies themselves as a writer, just what a brilliant book this is. I could write down my top tips, gleaned from this book, but I won’t. You need to experience it for yourselves, because if you are like me, you will lose yourself in her writing style, you will nod knowingly, probably wryly, at her sage advice, and you will pick up your pen with a renewed passion for writing.
Chastised by her criticism, “it is not an excuse to not write and sit on the couch eating bonbons,” I picked up my pen and started to do a writing exercise. I wrote on the first topic that came to my mind, and I wrote without letting my pen stop. I let my “first thoughts” out and went with it. I did the same the next day, and the day after. I then didn’t write for 2 days because I was busy (though, yes, I probably could have found 10 minutes). The next day, I had so much I had to write, I couldn’t wait to get my notepad out. Today, a couple of plots jumped up out of nowhere and hit me between the eyes. That’s why I’m writing this.
Life is busy at the moment: I’m working as a management consultant again, flying out to the US every month, working flat out for just under 2 weeks while I’m there. 12 hour days, 6 day weeks, on an average 4 hours jetlag deprived sleep each night. It’s not conducive to writing. I then fly home, I continue to work on the project at home, I do other work, I try to recover from the jetlag and the workload and I spend as much time as I can with the kids, fuelled by the guilt I feel at being away so much.
In the background, I am trying to find Mr. Nobody a publishing home, on the back of all the lovely feedback it has gathered on Amazon. I’d like it to reach a wider audience. I also have a chapter book for 7 years+, in need of surgery and soon to be put under the spotlight at the http://www.goldeneggacademy.co.uk. My first workshop as a Golden Egger is in June. It makes me grin to myself every time I think about how brilliant it will be, to nurture and to nail this book. I promised my youngest daughter that this book is for her.
So with all that going on, I stopped writing anything new. I told myself I didn’t have capacity; that I needed to wait to see what happens to Mr. Nobody and my chapter book. I told myself that I didn’t have the headspace to think about anything else, that I needed my head clear of stories and full of work. And I felt pretty miserable.
Then I started doing ‘writing practice’, inspired by Natalie Goldberg. I’ve got that writing feeling back again: that feeling of possibilities, of unknown worlds, of freedom, of experimentation, of words that I didn’t know I had, appearing on the page in front of me. And I’m excited. I’m smiling as I write this on the flight to San Francisco.
I have a couple of plots swimming around inside my head. I’m going to enjoy that experience, not rush it. I shall take Natalie’s advice and do lots of writing practice around the ideas before embarking on a novel. No deadlines, no word counts, just writing practice and I’ll know when I’m ready to let the novel start.
Since I’m a hopeless blogger, I shall tweet my writing journey. If you do happen to read this blog, please look out for my tweets. Even better, reply to them: it’s early days, and I might need some encouragement to keep on going. Thank you.
Me on twitter: https://twitter.com/NatalieGord