There is No Other Way.


This year has been one of change and adaptation. We moved home at the beginning of 2015 and that meant certain changes were inevitable, of course. It also meant many distractions took my mind off my writing. The house and garden needed, and continue to need, attention to make this our home rather than a house we’ve moved into. I trained for the Great North Run, taking up a lot of my time and energy. I joined an art group as a way of exercising my visual creativity. And I acted as taxi driver for my wife and, more recently, my daughter. I also joined a new writing group, since it’s no longer practical for me to make the journey to Hornsea, now over 200 miles distant! I’m still in touch with the old gang there via the wonders of the electronic net we all subscribe to, but I now attend a new group here in the Forest.

All this has impacted on my pattern of work for my writing. I don’t resent this, but I’ve reached the point where I can now make new changes to help me prioritise my time and spend more of it writing rather than engaging in peripheral roles and activities.

Timing, they say, is everything. It’s only partly coincidental that I came across a couple of features online that have both stimulated and motivated my change of direction now. One post discussed the physical damage that multitasking can inflict on our brains. You can access that piece here, and I strongly suggest you read it, for your own brain health. Like all addictions, our reliance on online networking can be destructive. The other post appeared on a website I visit frequently; a guest piece by Renee Vaughn on the inimitable John Yeoman’s blog at Writers’ Village, which you can access here. Have a look, and maybe join the discussion. John and Renee will both welcome your comments.

The outcome is that I’ve decided, as from tomorrow, to return to my old habit of writing first thing, as soon as I rise from the arms of Morpheus. That way, I tap into the most creative part of my day and frequently produce streams of words that actually show promise and even sometimes make sense.

All networking and associated technical jobs that surround my writing will then be allocated an hour a day, after I’ve finished writing. Writing includes, of course, my blog posts and reviews. Anything else that doesn’t get done in that hour won’t get done. That means it will take me a while to institute the much-lauded writer’s email list, which I’m currently trying to launch via MailChimp. It also means my trial of Scrivener, the recommended software for writers, will have to be tried on the hoof. Friends tell me the software is worth the effort but the online manual, a guide in PDF format some 546 pages in length, seems daunting to say the least. I shall, nevertheless attempt to employ the program in my next writing project and hope I can pick up the necessary knowledge as I go along.

I hope friends and readers will understand my changes in activity. I’m determined to break the addiction that networking has become and to return to creating via the written word.

It may be worth examining your own activities to discover whether you’re similarly addicted to what may well be harmful habits. It won’t be easy. But no shift from habit is easy. Whether it’s worthwhile, only time will tell. Good luck to those who choose to make the necessary changes.

6 thoughts on “There is No Other Way.

  1. Linda Acaster

    Hello Stuart I heartily concur with your blogpost. It is something I’ve been jabbing at for the last fortnight, a workable forward plan now that both my mobility and energy have finally reached critical mass. I’m losing 3 mornings a week to the gym (Excercise on Prescription), but that will end by Christmas. It’s not just getting the writing back into gear, it’s clearing an accumulation of house stuff (hoarders that we are) and a most needed redecoration, to be started in spring. But first on the, so far, 4 page list is the Writing. And hand in hand with that is Marketing/Promotion; I’ve not sold a single title since 24 October. I think the biggest challenge is to concentrate on what works, or at least spend as little time as possible on what doesn’t, to mitigate the fear of just going round in circles. And therein is the rub. I was interested to read John Yeoman’s article that you linked to, which I recall reading some time ago. It doesn’t make decisions any easier, though. But, as the saying goes, standing still is not an option. I have, of today, two covers organised; just the texts to format. But there is little point in sorting that until I have some idea of how to make readers aware of their existence. I need to reinstate my blog. You have a very decent following on yours now; it’s good to see Comments springing up and must make you feel that you’re not blowing in the wind. I need a value-added theme for a series of posts. And on that note I shall stop wittering in your ear and go and brainstorm one. I trust you are not hanging on to your roof across there, or watching your fence disappear into the quarry! Regards for now – Linda =============================================== Chiller novella The Paintings Torc of Moonlight & The Bull At The Gate Historical: Beneath The Shining Mountains Website ¦ Twitter ¦ Facebook ¦ HornseaWriters

    From: Stuart Aken To: Sent: Monday, 16 November 2015, 19:17 Subject: [New post] There is No Other Way. #yiv1711588238 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv1711588238 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv1711588238 a.yiv1711588238primaryactionlink:link, #yiv1711588238 a.yiv1711588238primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv1711588238 a.yiv1711588238primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv1711588238 a.yiv1711588238primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv1711588238 | stuartaken posted: “This year has been one of change and adaptation. We moved home at the beginning of 2015 and that meant certain changes were inevitable, of course. It also meant many distractions took my mind off my writing. The house and garden needed, and continue to ” | |

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Linda. Roofing and fencing in tact here. See my reply to John above re today, however.
      As for my following here, Linda. I glanced at my old blog a couple of weeks back to discover that, even though it’s now defunct, it’s gathered 307k visitors! I suspect it’ll be a while before this new one reaches that total. No matter. Onward, as Dan says.


  2. Absolutely, Stuart. It may be a truism, but it’s true: We can get addicted to the computer. I have been wedded to it of late, rushing to my study every ten minutes to check my emails. My wife made a profound comment: “You’re mad”. True. So I jogged round the lake. Thirty breathless minutes later I told myself: “You’re mad”.

    So now I’m in my garden cabin, writing. (Of course, I had to break away to access the computer and send this comment to you.) Yes, it’s an addiction…

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    1. And, of course, all the resolution in the world won’t prevent the domestics of life getting in the way of intention, good or otherwise. Today, I had to take my daughter to the nearby city of Gloucester so she could take a first aid certificate course with St Johns. The traffic was manic and I didn’t get back home until gone 10:00. Yesterday, the bare root plants I ordered for the boundary between my lower garden and the neighbour’s were delivered. I read the gumph that came with them and discovered they need planting more or less at once. So, on with the garden grots and down the slope we went, my wife and I. It’s a slope with gradients from around 50 degrees to about 70 degrees, so working on it is a little difficult. We eventually managed to plant 55 beech hedging plants and only got rained on (read ‘drenched’) for the final half hour. Weary and knackered, we escaped into the house when finished and showered before lunch, which we managed to start around 14:00. Then dear daughter needed to be brought back from her, successful, first aid course. Another hour and half on the road. Back home in time to read the latest Writers’ Forum magazine and come up to the study to check on emails before the evening meal.
      No writing today! Too weary now to concentrate on such finely tuned activity.
      Still, tomorrow: after, that is, my art class!


  3. Stuart,
    Writing first thing in the am sounds quite brilliant.
    A good blog friend of mine, Doug at Hemmingplay (2 mm’s not a typo) was just raving to me about Scrivener – he loves it.
    Good luck with whatever direction the wind moves you…you have a plan and that’s the way to affect change.

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