Over a 12 week period from March to May I had Mondays off from my day job to devote to writing. Unsurprisingly it became my favourite day of the week.I treated it like a work day, getting up early, making sure I had a some words down before lunch. Never before had I looked forward to working so much on a Monday! Any creative person who works full time I’m sure can identify with the frustration of having to go into the office on days where all you want to do is lose yourself in words or art.
Knowing I only had this luxury for 12 weeks really helped me focus and I completed at least one or two new stories, (sometimes spending some of the time editing old ones), every Monday. Some I’m really happy with, some I’m not, but the important thing is I got words down on paper.
My original aim had been to complete my second YA novel but I realised I wanted to use the time to focus on a different type of writing and experiment a bit.
There were moments where I started to overthink and panic, thinking I might waste the whole day staring at a blank computer screen. If lines weren’t flowing for one story, I would simply abandon it and move onto something else.
One weekend in amongst my Mondays when I was feeling a bit demotivated and uninspired, (and probably having a bit of a week where I was doubting my writing, amongst other things), I sat in a café reading through a helpful little booklet which was free with Writing Magazine, called ‘Just Write’ (7 days of inspiration to unlock your creativity). I liked the NO RULES in bold at the top of the booklet, because really when you start setting yourself strict rules in writing that’s when your words stop flowing…
I paid particular attention to the Neil Gaiman quote in the book: ‘Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art.’ (taken from Neil Gaiman's commencement speech 'Make Good Art' delivered to the University of Arts in 2012).
On leaving the café I stopped in at Waterstones in search of a book I’ve always meant to read called ‘The Artists’ Way.’ As soon as I walked to the art section a different book caught my eye. It was called ‘Make Good Art’. Yup- it was Neil Gaiman’s whole speech in a creative book form! So I sat and read the whole speech (you should look it up - you can hear/see him speak it on youtube). Some very encouraging and inspiring words for artists everywhere.
The weekend after this I met up with a friend for a late birthday get together. The photo at the top of this blog post is part of her present to me. The ‘Create Happiness’ pencils and the blank journal seemed like another sign that I should continue with the making and the creating!
So now my Mondays off are over that’s the challenge – to keep making good art and figure out a schedule which works for me to make sure I give myself time to do this.
A friend recently recommended an interesting book called ‘Daily Rituals: How Artists Work’ by Mason Currey, which documents over one hundred famous writers'/artists’/musicians' working routines. I envy the writers who can get up at 5.30am (some as early as 4am) and function.
I've come to the conclusion that it's probably best I don't try to think too much about a writing 'routine' and instead focus on getting words down anytime, anywhere that I can, and worry about the sentence structure during moments of calm.
So that said, I think it's time we all got off the internet to go and make some good art!