Way back in 2014, that’s last year in case you’re not sure, I was writing fairly regularly and working on a couple of projects. But, in the middle of that year, we made a momentous decision: we would move house from our domain of 14 years and settle in an area of the country where we wanted to spend our retirement. One outcome of that decision was a severe disruption to my writing habits. So much to do, so many things to sort, so many jobs to do to make the old house attractive to potential buyers. And then, having found a new place, so many more jobs to make that new home into something we can be happy living in. They’re still ongoing, but we’ve reached the point where we feel they can now wait their turn in our lives and make space for what we want to do with our time.
So, with reduced time and energy available for my writing activities during the disruptive spell, what did I do? I guess I took the easy way out and allowed the simple tasks involved with social media to take up what little time I had. True, I did write a book and publish it: M.E. and me; Chronic Fatigue: My Recovery After 10 Years was something I’d promised to do to help support Action for M.E., the charity that had helped me through that difficult time, so I was obliged to get on with that. I also started to write a new science fiction novel. But that was shelved.
Last week, following a short period catching up online after a two-week holiday in Thassos, I acted on the results of a small experiment. (see Technophobe, Technophile or Technosceptic? And the follow-up post, Returning to the World of Technology for details). In short, I returned to a habit I used to keep to before the house move disrupted my working methods.
I now write first and do everything else afterwards. It’s a simple enough trick. You get up and go to the keyboard, writing pad, tablet or whatever you use to transfer ideas into words on a page/document and you write. I use a desktop Mac, but that’s a personal choice rather than a recommendation. On Sunday of the week just ended, I re-read the story I’d been writing. I don’t do this as a rule; as a pantster, I prefer not to re-visit text until I have the whole story written down. However, on this occasion I’d had a longish break between writing the last few words of the current story (and they were a few, I can tell you – about 1,000 or so) and starting to write again. I needed to refresh my memory about the way the tale was going and to reintroduce myself to my cast of players. Once I’d done that, I started to write again. Only1,000 words on that first day. But, since then, over the last week, I’ve continued the habit and completed 16,000 words as at the end of today’s writing session.
So, the trick works. Whether you wish to try it yourself is, of course, your decision. But I wouldn’t mind betting a lot of you get little writing done because you spend an inordinate amount of time engaged in social contact on FB, Twitter, LinkedIn and all the other sites that lurk out there ready to capture the unwary. Is that time well spent?
Me? I’ll continue on the new habit and turn out more books and stories. The social media will have to take a back seat. I am, after all, a writer. And writers write.