My latest favourite podcast is Monocle’s Meet the Writers. In the most recent episode American author Harlan Coben shared his secret to writing:
Is really is that simple. But it’s also not.
Like all writers I’m never short of ideas; actually I usually have too many competing for attention in my head. It’s the writing bit that gets me – because there’s always something else I ‘should’ be doing. I see my creative writing as an indulgence.
When I listen to writers speaking about when and how they write on this podcast, or my other favourite – So You Want To Be a Writer, they always have simple, but sensible, advice: write when you have a spare hour or two while the kids are at sport, establish a writing day/time (like Sunday afternoons for three hours), or write instead of watching TV. Great advice, but somehow lost on me because I’m still trying to find the discipline to do such things for my fiction writing.
I wonder if the fact that I write professionally is part of the problem here. I find it hard to separate writing for work and writing for pleasure because I write every day for my work as a journalist and for my PhD.
The most pressing project for me right now is writing 80,000-odd academic-sounding words for my thesis. Mr Coben’s words are very relevant for that. I need to get over the idea that my chapters will be perfect in one draft and get the words on the page, rather than allowing myself to be paralysed by the thought that they won’t be perfect the first time. Nothing gets written if I do that.
So, let’s just write!