I’ve written a lot of blogs recently about television – what’s on, what’s good, what’s terrible, what do you think?! – and it feels like time to look at writing. It’s harder to blog about, because it becomes a more personal, intimate and potentially risky post, but I know there are so many writers out there looking for conversation, ideas and just a feeling of shared experience. Because writing is such an isolated experience, we don’t often come together to talk about it – and so a lot of problems can fester, and fears grow, which can so easily be alleviated if shared. The common experience of most writers, I find, is a low-level fear that we don’t want to admit to feeling … that we can’t write, that our ideas are rubbish, or unoriginal, or boring, or just that we’re STUCK and don’t know which way to turn with a project. And here’s where I think the hashtag #amwriting is so incredibly useful and brilliant – because just the act of sitting down at the page and putting some words down is an affirmation of belief in what you’re writing. An inspiration, a kick up the arse, and possibly the beginnings of a routine. And as each writer adds it to their Twitter feed, that sense of community starts to take root. Just doing it, without worrying about whether it’s any good, is massively powerful and much easier to achieve than we sometimes think. Whether it’s an hour a day, or one morning a week, or even just ten minutes, moving forward with your project is progress.
Pushing through the fear and doubt, and writing something that shoves your story onto the next square of the chessboard, is a result. It might be a tiny progression; a small piece of the jigsaw that feels like it hasn’t made much difference (for example, thinking about how a character is going to find out a vital piece of information, or deciding that someone is going to, actually, be ten years older than you’d originally intended) but it is movement. I am guilty of spending weeks (months, shut up) making detailed notes on story, characters, themes, childhood pets – anything, but anything, to put off the moment when I have to start getting the story down formally. But it is never wasted time, as long as the portfolio of information is building and the story is continuing to grow, every day. Further down the line, all those notes come into play and I realise they all have a contribution to make. Then, I can look back on the time spent ‘procrastinating’ and tell myself it was worthwhile research. As long as it’s involved some thought, each day’s notes or brainstorming – or just plain writing down the confusion and trying to make sense of it – have moved my story on. The fear and panic and doubt have been turned into positive energy that has helped the idea to grow. So try to find those ten minutes, and get your story moving. #amwriting