A Daily Practice
One piece of writing advice that has always been thrown at me is this,
"Write every day",
and for a long time, I took that to mean write your novel or work in practice every day. I tried. I really did. Every Monday morning I would say to myself, "This week I will work on my novel every day". During a very rare, peaceful week, I would succeed but for the most part, I would fail. And every time I failed, I would get angry with myself, doubt myself and basically give my self esteem a good kicking.
It took me a long time to realise that, for me at least, what 'write every day' meant is that I should do that exactly. I should write every day but not necessarily write my novel or work in practice. I should write in my diary. I should write small stones. I should write blog posts. I should write letters or emails to friends. I should write down new ideas that came to me.
When my family and I went on holiday last week, I knew full well that having any time for writing would be difficult. The physical removal of my children from their computers meant that we had to keep them busy while we were away. There was the morning club which usually meant sticking miscellaneous brightly coloured objects to pieces of card, balloons or available adults, and a screaming run around several highly enthusiastic but I assume deaf members of staff. We also threw the children at the pool on numerous occasions and on differing vehicles (aqua jets, aqua gliders, inflatables, water walkers). We dragged them round the mini golf, fed the ducks and swans (until the invasion of seagulls put a stop to that) and generally walked them to exhaustion. I spent very little time sitting down. Opportunities to write were limited but precious. I got up early to work on my novel on a couple of days. When the children were engrossed in an activity, I made notes on my phone for blog articles and two new murder mystery plays that occurred to me over the break. I wrote my diary each night and I even dreamed up a new novel idea, literally. It came to me in a dream so I noted that down as soon as I woke. I wrote a little each day.
This isn't a get-out clause. This shouldn't be an excuse for procrastination. What it is, however, is an admission that on some days, picking up your work-in-practice just isn't going to work. There isn't enough time to get any work done on it or perhaps you've hit a pothole in the road of your novel and need to pull yourself out by mulling the dilemma over for a bit. To have written something that day, be it a note on your novel, a blog post or a letter to your Great Aunt Mildred, is always valuable because in writing a little or a lot each day, you keep the writing muscle in action.