Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The Waste Land

Last week I gave myself a 'writing day'. I didn't answer emails, I didn't do any of the little writing or editing jobs that I often tinker around with. It was a day to do nothing more than write new work. On that day I managed to write 5 completely new and individual short stories. Today, I gave myself another writing day. And the result?


Despite having a list of prompts, I have not been able to find my way into writing a single new story. My motivation has disappeared into the garden to catch some rays, and my inspiration has gone with it to keep it company.

I'm not worried, though. Any writer will tell you that sometimes this just happens. It's all very well putting aside the time to work on your magnum (or minimum) opus. And sometimes the brain will rise to the challenge. But sitting down, with no plan of what you intend to write, and hoping for the Muse to pay a visit, is a very hit and miss affair. You sit and look at the blank page and wait for your brain to bleed and nothing happens. Some emails get answered instead, maybe; a phone call or two are made; you finally pay those bills, and some vitally important games of Solitaire are played, but nothing gets written.

However, this is the time when the bane of a writer's life can be his salvation. You've set the day aside for creative work, but no creation is happening. Time to get to grips with the editing. Even more than the writing, it is the greatest cause of displacement activity, but when you enter a creative wilderness, it can give you focus and direction.

So, today, instead of creating new works, I am rewriting, redrafting, and editing old ones. I'm getting to grips with stories which just need a polish and some which were never really finished but put aside for another day. Today is that day. And the wonderful thing about this, is reconnecting with your old work, seeing where you have been before and you can already feel your brain brewing new potions to spring forth the next time you try to prime the pump.

So, today isn't a wash out, and maybe, just maybe, if I try for another writing day later in the week, the words will flow like wine. (But hopefully without the cliches.)

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