The long and grinding road

George Orwell‘s quote:

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.

. . . has never rung so true. I am almost at the half way mark of the sequel to ‘Black December‘ and it’s not been easy so far.  Nor, I suspect, is it going to get any easier. Still, whichever demon (metaphorically, of course) is chasing me at present is still moving at a fair lick so, while that’s the case I’ll keep going.

Are you writing a novel? Are you exhausted with the struggle? Here are some of the remedies I’ve been using to ensure that my bottom attaches itself to my chair, the laptop is opened, Twitter and Facebook are avoided, and the file marked ‘Work in Progress’ is opened before me.

I’ll just say firstly that some of these remedies need to happen in the form of a morning or afternoon off, OK? My methods allow you to treat yourself (just for a short time, mind, so don’t get carried away).

  • Have a wander around your local bookstore. If there is a Costa coffee shop on the premises, dive in and order your favourite pick-me-up before beginning a leisurely tour of the new releases, old favourites and anything else that tickles your fancy
  • Take your laptop with you; you may find inspiration strikes while you’re within the hallowed walls. If it does, head back to Costa and make yourself comfy. Off you go! You’re inspired, and in good company; Balzac used to write in a cafe, y’know . . .
  • While the wonderful mixture of smells (coffee and new books) percolates through your system, think a little about your plot, and how much better it is compared to the current number 1 novel’s plot (which it probably is, especially if the Fifty Shades trend is still flavour of the month).
  • Have another coffee.
  • And a chocolate twist if you’re feeling particularly wicked.
  • If you’ve written and published anything before, remind yourself that if you’ve done it once, you can do it again.
  • If you haven‘t finished a book before, think about all the completed tasks you have achieved in your life. Award yourself a huge pat on the back. See? You can complete tasks, including difficult ones, so be assured that you can finish your book too.
  • Chat to one of the booksellers. They are mostly encouraging souls and will enjoy chatting to an author. If you have a business card, pass it on. You’ve found a new fan!
  • If it’s a nice day, take a long-ish walk in the countryside (if available; if not, wander aimlessly around the shops). Think about anything except your book. You’ll find that inspiration strikes when you least expect it.
  • When you get home, open that WIP and reread the last chapter you wrote. Sketch a few ‘what if’ scenarios to free up your imagination. Think about what your next key scenes could be.
  • Start writing. After ten minutes you’ll be in the zone.
  • Celebrate with a coffee.
  • Enjoy the achievements of the day/afternoon.
  • Go to bed (if you’re not still wide awake after all that coffee). And be happy! But before you do, remember: never leave your WIP at the end of a scene or chapter. When you start work again you won’t have to begin with the dreaded blank page.

Now, Chapter thirteen beckons . . .

SH after excessive caffeine intake