Monday 10 August 2015

A writer's pep-talk

Think of this as a pep-talk.

It’s a pep-talk for me really, but feel free to take advantage of it.

Sometimes writing comes easy. Sometimes you hit your word count target in less than half the time it normally takes and feel like you can carry on at that rate for hours. There’s hardly a pause in your typing, no going back to perfect the awkward sentence – no need.

But then, there are the times when writing is like wading through treacle. Each word is hard-won. There are so many clumsy sentences that you have to go back and reword. You’re afraid to leave the keyboard because anything, anything will distract you enough to keep you from coming back. And yet you would really, really like to abandon your work, right this minute because it’s too hard and it’s rubbish and who do you think you are writing novels anyway?

This is where the pep-talk comes in.

They could be rubbish, those few words you managed to squeeze out today. You might have to delete them all. But it could be that writing them made you discover what you don’t need to say, or what you don’t want to say. Or maybe you can use those words somewhere else. Perhaps, when you come back to them, those words you deem to be rubbish now won’t seem so bad. A tweak here and there will sort them out. Maybe something you’ve written, some sentence, some phrase, is perfect.

After all, when you come to reread the whole of what you’ve written, it’s generally impossible to tell which bits flew from your fingers and which bits you sweated over. So maybe, when you think you’re stuck, you’re not really stuck at all. You’re just slow. Don’t worry about it. Just plug away.

Today was a slow day for me. It’s the final chapter, so everything matters so much. The rate I’m going, it’ll take me a week to write the necessary two and a half thousand (ish) words. But I’ll get there, even if it’s three words written and two deleted. I’ve written the last sentence already, and it looks pretty good to me.


  1. Thank you. For the first time in my life, I am trying to write something at the minute. When I am driving aroudn with an empty mind, I can see whole scenes in a sort of cinematic montage - a mixture of stage blocking, gestures, and a few brilliant phrases. But when I sit at the keyboard, I seem to be carving each sentence out of old polyfilla. It's good to know that the stilted bits might not be noticeable in the end. Maybe.

    1. I am happy to have been able to make a difference. And it's honestly true - I've read over some of the stuff that came so slowly and arduously to me this week and I find most of it good and necessary and satisfying, which is what I ask of it. Good luck with yours!

  2. Co-incidentally, this was today's Dilbert.


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