I wrote recently about experiencing a level of anxiety that has necessitated me getting professional help. Part of that anxiety is fueled by my inability to write. And my anxiety is causing me not to write. It’s a sealed loop that I’m trying to unseal. I’ve not had a lifelong desire to write fiction. I can trace that desire to about fifteen years ago. Since then, telling stories has become an integral part of my identity. So, when I’m not writing, me and my concept of me get uncomfortably skewed.
It’s frustrating in the extreme. I don’t even like writing fiction. I like the ideas that swim around my imagination. I like exploring them. Putting them in some order. It’s just that communicating them to anyone outside my head is painfully difficult. What I’d like is someone with the skills and discipline to write a novel, to reach into my head and take those ideas for themselves. Create a bit of art that has its genesis in my idle musings. Save me the pain and absolute drudgery of trying to communicate those ideas through the medium of the novel.
I keep reading blog posts by writers who describe their process, hoping they’ll have the secret to making noveling easy. I haven’t found that secret. Writing a novel is, and always will be, hard work. A long and brain melting endurance test that doesn’t even guarantee a product anyone will care about. Yet here I sit, with anything up to ten different novel ideas fighting for attention in my head. I need to begin to get them out. They’ll drive me mad otherwise.
So, I have decided to change my entire life. Well not really. I’m going to gradually, incrementally and carefully begin to alter certain aspects of my life so that the process of writing a novel, becomes less intimidating and awful. The first step has been going to bed earlier. Yep, I know, how dramatic. I realised some time ago, to my surprise, that I write better in the morning. I had confused being able to stay up late watching TV with being a night owl. I’m not a night owl. I just lack a routine and when I’m tired enough to go to bed I spend a long time procrastinating because it’ll involve brushing my teeth, seeing to Arwen, unplugging stuff. I can get another 30 minutes of channel-hopping out of that.
The aim is to be in bed by 11.30, read for half an hour and then sleep until about 7.30. Get up and write for an hour. That’s it. That’s all I intend doing for the next four to six weeks. I have a long list of other steps but I know if I try everything at once it’ll be easier to give up. If I manage this small thing for that length of time, then I will add more steps. There is one other thing I’m including though.
I am a very vain man. I adore attention. That probably won’t come as a surprise to many people, but let’s pretend it did. Thank you. I intend using that vanity for something useful. Mornings will be for writing my novel. I haven’t a name for it yet and it may be more a novella than a novel, but it’s the story I intend concentrating on for this year. Anyway, afternoons and evenings will be for planning that novel and describing that planning process. It will offer an insight into how an inexperienced, unsure and struggling amateur novelist tries to novel.
I’m hoping that my vanity will encourage/force me to have something to write about. No doubt a few posts about not writing anything will be acceptable to a reader, but a litany is just that, a litany.
So that’s my plan. It may fall on its arse or it may spur me back into my groove. Either way, I will begin on Monday 27th March, with the aim of having a novel (or novella or even a novelette (shut up, that’s a real thing)) ready for publication next Christmas, Winterfest or Saturnalia.
Whatever happens, I hope you will at least enjoy my bitching and moaning and insights. I promise that no matter how unproductive I get, I will give a detailed weekly update on my failure. OK, yes, that was a terribly transparent attempt at lowering your expectations and garnering sympathy. But my first entry will be titled, On Naming a Novel. Both boring and pretentious so I do need to mitigate that by appealing to your emotions.
See you Monday.
Next: Choosing a Title