Friday, March 05, 2010

Utterly slammed; practising what I preach

It's been a nuking the candle at both ends from orbit kind of fortnight. My 2.5 days a week teaching job has bled sideways, threatening to consume all known time and space. If I'm not in lectures and seminars, I'm preparing them. Plus there's mentoring, marking, second marking, meetings and more. Throw in an hour's drive each way and 12 hours days are all too common.

I'm also involved with a local am-dram workshop. I'm coming off the board in June, but right now we're involved with a refurbishment worth half a million pounds. Even our solicitor says the project's grown arms and legs. Plus I'm directing rehearsals twice a week for a production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses for May. I volunteered for all of this, but it does east time like mad.

As a consequence I've written sod all of my own work lately. Got a Doctors pitch half done and another that needs tweaking, but no time or energy to tackle either. Sigh. Last week I sent my part-time students an arse-kick via email to get them writing more. Guess who needs to practise what they preach? Here's an edited version of my email, let's hope it works on me too...
...what are you waiting for?

You should be writing every day, even if it’s only 500 words a day. Depending how fast you write, that can take as little as 20 minutes. Twenty minutes – that’s nothing. EastEnders and Emmeerdale last longer. Making and drinking a piping hot cup of tea can longer longer. Walking to the pub often takes longer, let alone having a drink while you’re there.

But if you write 500 words a day, by September you’ll have nearly 100,000 words of raw material. Doesn’t have to be perfect, doesn’t have to be great. It’s all about getting something written. [Rewriting is where you get it right.]

Now, this call to action doesn’t apply to everyone. Some people are naturally prolific, brimming with energy, discipline, focus and resolve. Bravo! But some writers act as if they expect others to instill them with those qualities. Sorry, no can do. There will be no engraved invitations telling you to start writing. The world is not waiting for your deathless prose.

If you want to be a writer, talking about writing isn’t enough. You have to produce the goods. And you have to be willing to make sacrifices. Haven’t got time to write? Find the time. Give up watching a soap. Get up half an hour earlier each day. Put down that remote control or games console. See a little less of your friends, or those you love. Use that time to write instead.

How much work you put into developing yourself as a writer will determine how much you get out of this experience. So, I repeat my question...

...what are you waiting for?

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