Sunday, 14 October 2018

House need cleaning? Use it as motivation to write instead!

I have never been good at or a fan of housework – except, in brief spurts, when I’m avoiding work.

My mother worried about this. She thought she’d turn up one day and find me sitting on a chair – with a notebook and pen, admittedly surrounded by my accumulated clutter.

Cobwebs, what cobwebs?
Then she watched a documentary about JK Rowling. “I know now why you’re not good at housework,” she said. Apparently JK had said there were three important tasks she had to fulfil – to mind her child (like me, she was a single mum), to keep the house clean and to write. She only had time to do two of these things well.

Mind you, today my glasses fell on the floor. They fire off at every opportunity. I think they regard the top of my head as a launching pad for inter-stellar adventures, though so far they’ve only fired downwards, most notably into the loo, the bath, the sink and on top of the dog. This time, they went under the heater.

Minutes after I put them back on – after chastising them, swearing a little and nearly toppling my mug of coffee as I bent down – I realised one side needed cleaning; maybe a hair had got caught in the joint – but no, it was a cobweb.
Clean cobwebs or write a play about
cloning a man from a thumb?
Julie Lockey in All Thumbs,
 International Bar Theatre, 2016

A nice fat little cobweb.

For a moment - brief - I thought, I could hoover... 

Or I could get back to my book.

 I’ve given myself a week to finish the last section. (Ambitious because I know it’s flawed. Though the flaws may stretch back deeper into the book, I won’t know until I finish, set it aside and re-read.)

Thing is, I have a really nice few chapters at the end but I’m not sure whether to lead in to leap forward... Whether that should be the ending or it should go on to the next big moment. Whether this is book two of two or of three... Whether the drama leading up to this point is big enough or needs an extra injection of oompf...

So instead of cleaning, I decided to use the cobwebs as motivation to drive me to my notebook, oblivious to the clutter and play with words for the next half hour. 

As someone once said, the house will still be there when you’re gone so what’s the most important thing to do?


Write That Script, The Angelica Touch and Dad’s Red Dress by L.J. Sedgwick are all available from Amazon and on my online store. They are also available from Kenny’s Bookshop, Charlie Byrne’s bookshop (Galway), Books Upstairs, the Winding Stairs bookshop (Dublin) and Hanna’s in Rathmines

Monday, 1 October 2018

Is procrastination really creativity in disguise?

Is procrastination really creativity in disguise? I want to think so. I really want to think so!

How is it that you can plan your entirely productive writing life at 3am in the morning, feel the flow of energy that you will pour into your day and then when the day begins, you stop and do something else.
Anything else.
Chores you hate because you don't really deserve to do something you enjoy until you've got some of the 'real' work done.
Waiting for inspiration to arrive - or the postman?

I think some of it is fear. That you'll start the regime you imagined and it will all dissolve. So you don't start. Or fear that you'll start and get into it, really get work done and be interrupted again and again until it all explodes in frustration.
But I also think some of it is excitement, ironically. Postponing the excitement of getting into your work in case the writing doesn't go well. This is really a rookie one - I'm forever telling students you have to be prepared to write crap too; at least then it's out of your head and might free up better work. But it's not always easy - until you get those fingers writing.
For me, it is all of this and also the muddle and the ambition and the wanting to be at the finish line already and the worrying that I'm wasting time, so much time and have wasted more already.

At the back of my head, I know if I could start and work consistently, I would make progress and I will.

First step: I will put my phone on aeroplane mode and turn off every app on the computer - Facebook, Gmail, Messenger. If I don't need to work on the computer, I'll take my notebook or pages to edit somewhere else.
Second step: I'll pocket my time into small segments with achievable goals and then it will be easier. This, for me, on days when the mojo is hiding under the sofa playing with turnwheels of dust,  is the key: tiny achievable amounts of work, listed on a page broken into segments for each piece of material or area of work I need to progress.
Third step: Start now.

There's an entire chapter in my screenwriting book, Write That Script, on productivity tips, which are really anti-procrastination tools. I did this because of the number of days and weeks when I can feel I am making no progress with any of my works-in-hand, be it writing or attempting to market myself or my books.
The longer these spells continue, the harder it is to break the spell. I don't see it as writer's block so much as writer's mud mixed with sinking sand, some heavy squalls of rain and wind and a muddled, distracted, increasingly frustrated and blue mind and mood.

But it can be moved on from, one tiny step at a time.
Tiny pieces of work. Achievable. Ten minutes at a time.
One word following the next.
#writethatscript #theangelicatouch #dadsreddress #lindsayjsedgwick