On struggling with the writing life – again


My thoughts, indeed.

I still seem to get a fair few hits on this, my blog. Not that I deserve them. No wriggling out of writing has been sorely neglected of late as I struggled with the first edits of my forthcoming book, (Death, Disease & Dissection to be published by Pen and Sword Books in October). My mum has been poorly too, and my sister and I have been spending more time with her in the hope that she can find at least a little joy in her life.

I have to be honest though. I have been endlessly wriggling out of writing, procrastinating at every opportunity and finding any excuse not to write. I have watched social media carefully, comparing myself to others and finding solace in their dilemmas, or berating myself for my lack of productivity. Author after author seems to have celebrated the release of yet another book or highlighted an article they have written. My pitching arm – the one that writes down the ideas that should be winging their way to commissioning editors has been, of late, disabled by the mental equivalent of a frozen shoulder.

I am an author and a published one, but it is hard to call myself a ‘writer’ unless I am writing so I need to get the word count up again. My imagination feels stifled, the door into the part of my mind I use as the boiler room for my creative work is firmly locked. Writing is an expression of myself, and has been used as therapy more than once, when I have really needed to speak to the world about something that is important to me. The love of it must come back.

The world has been, and still is, an emotionally exhausting place to live in recent months, but with little hope of improvement in the near future I can no longer use the horror in Syria, the abject misery of Brexit or the hideous injustices perpetrated by Trump as a reason not to write.  But writing about those things seems too scary.  I sit with fingers on the keyboard ready to respond to the most recent news item and have literally to stop myself from exposing the raw edges of grief I feel to the whole world.

I have, as always, turned to poetry when feeling most frustrated. John Keats , in Endymion, wrote ”In spite of all/ Some shape of beauty moves away the pall/From our dark spirits.’ and I have to hang on to the thought that this fallow period will end. Only I can end it after all. I am, at least, reading a lot across different genres and still booking new writers onto my Talking Books radio show.  Other authors inspire as well make me feel, quite without intending to, like I need a good kick in the pants…

So, if there is still anybody out there reading this, rather self-indulgent post, here is my attempt at a plan. Some parts, driven by my publisher and the looming of deadlines, will be easier to bring to fruition. Others are all down to me, and I am hoping writing them down will help:

  1. Death, Disease & Dissection WILL be out in October of this year.
  2. My anthology of blog posts relating to John Keats(with a foreword by Lynn Shepherd who has published some of them on The Wordsworth Trust blog) will be completed by the autumn.
  3. I will post at least once a fortnight here on No wriggling out of writing, even if it is just to share a favourite poem or poet, or review a book.
  4. I will enter two competitions (short story or poetry) by the end of this year.
  5. I will update my website and get that newsletter OUT.

Does that sound a lot? Or not enough? How can I possibly know? I have to get proofreading work in, articles pitched and written and blogs for business done to earn at least something to pay the bills, but as someone who describes herself as a writer, I know the first step is to WRITE.

Brace yourself…


This entry was posted in Books, Mental health, Reading, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to On struggling with the writing life – again

  1. Kimberley Rose says:

    Loved this blog post, i can completely relate to this most of the time. You’ve given me that kick i need to make more of an effort with my own blog and writing goals 🙂 thanks!

  2. MarinaSofia says:

    I know exactly what you mean, Suzie, I’m in a similar situation myself and need to motivate myself in a more productive way than just shaming and beating myself up. I wish you the very best with your goals, they sound sensible to me.

    • keatsbabe says:

      It is good to know I am not alone, but it just shows how tough this writing lark can be! You always seem to be quite busy writing, or reading, but even if people are patting you on the back about something it is hard to stop feeling you are still not doing enough, isn’t it?!

  3. Jane says:

    I think it’s excellent to have a plan — and that’s a good plan. The best thing about a plan, perhaps, is that it can be added to and rejigged. So this is just the start of much forward movement. Best of luck with it all.

  4. Debbie Young says:

    I sympathise, Suzie – and can I recommend something that’s worked for me? Morning pages -since Christmas i’ve been writing 3 pages of A5 first thing each morning, broadly on the principles recommended by Julia Cameron (although i think she says A4). Just write the first thing that comes into your head before the day intrudes, for your eyes only, any old thing, and it helps you work out what your priorities are and kickstarts the writing part of your brain for the day. There’s no objective other than to fill the three pages – and then stop. Mine’s often a series of reactions to what’s been happening, broad plans for what I want to do (helps achieve things if you list your intentions in writing), and remarks on how I’m feeling, jumping from topic to topic, but I’m sure it’s made me much more productive in writing terms since I’ve been doing it. It also gives you a sense of achievement as you know you have written three pages each day, even if they’re not three pages for publication. It’s very liberating too becaues it’s writing only for you, and nobody else, and it helps you put yourself first. Worth a shot, anyway!

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