Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography

Monday, 17 November 2014

How To Keep On Writing? by Gill Stewart

Beautiful Iona where we went for the first of our short breaks
My life has been a bit unpredictable recently. Good things have got in the way of routine - like my Other Half atypically booking not one but two short breaks. And bad things, like family illness.

I have always found it difficult to be the sort of writer who writes a little every day, and yet I know that I write better if I do that. And I'm happier, too! So a couple of months ago I told myself to forget being a perfectionist, forget having to reread every word written to date before going forwards - and just write!

With all the recent interruptions I would have expected this to be particularly hard to follow my own advice, but somehow I have pushed through, making notes as I go, e-mailing various versions of the ms to myself so I can access it wherever I happen to be. And making more notes because the main ones are in the wrong place...

But I have kept on writing. And with the advent on NaNoWriMo this month (see Mary Smith's earlier post) it seemed the ideal opportunity to push myself a bit harder and not just write, but to write a decent amount each day. So far, to my great surprise, it has worked.

What have I discovered?
  - once I start writing, even if I say to myself 'A hundred words will do' I find myself enjoying and writing far more
  - the plot is developing itself for me (but then I have always been a bit of a pantser, so have tended to write this way)
  - I am getting to know my characters by writing them. I know I will have to go back and edit things in the early stages, but that's okay, I AM getting to know them
  - I've got back my love of writing and lost all the guilt about not writing/not writing enough/not writing well enough.

This reminds me of something I read that Jennifer Crusie had written some time a go - go write that good book. Don't worry about what others are thinking, what the market is doing, go and write the best book you can. And to do that, you have TO WRITE. Write what you can, where you can. And have fun.
If I can do it, anyone can, but I’d certainly appreciate any further advice as to how to keep this drive going.


  1. I reckon you have been a "real writer" for a long time. You just didn't know it yourself and felt guilty if you did, and guilty if you didn't. Good luck with the next best seller.

    1. Thanks Gwen. Yes, there's a lot of guilt involved!

  2. What you say resonates with me, Gill - particularly the bit about learning about your characters as you write. That's what I'll be taking away from NaNo this year -- a monumental editing job!

    1. It's a learning curve for me Jennifer. As soon as I've found out something I want to go back and edit, but I'm trying to make myself wait until the end.

  3. Well done, Gill. I'm afraid I have no words of advice on how to keep the drive going. I'm struggling this year. I have a feeling I have two separate novels on the go, which is confusing me.

  4. Two separate novels! Sounds very confusing. But productive once you've worked things out.

  5. Wise words. I think writing is like any other skill - music, gymnastics, sport of any sort really, drawing - it never stands still, and can only improve with practice. When time was short for me I used to set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes.....goodness, it's amazing how much you can do up against the clock!

  6. Good tip, Linda. Gill, I think writing even a hundred words a day is a good discipline. Writing is a muscle that needs to be exercised. Now - I'd better get off and take my own advice! Good luck.