Writing in Transit

Photo Credit: Sebastiano Pitruzzello

Trains have become an integral part of my life and we’re not talking a daily half hour commute here. For over a year now I have happily been in a long-distance relationship and enjoying it. I’m often asked how I manage the distance and my response quite honestly is that I have the best of both worlds, I have some great weekends as a couple and enjoying the relationship stuff and the rest of the time I get to do my own thing and be my own person. It’s great!

There is also another upside. When it’s my turn to make the four hour journey down to London and back I have something I have always struggled to squeeze into my life- dedicated writing time. No one disturbances, not even a television to distract me. I can be one of those busy writerly types scribbling away while I transported down the country.

That was the hope anyway but as you have probably guessed by now it didn’t quite work out like that. I have tried and had intentions every single time I have made this journey but only a handful of times have I ever succeeded in getting anything written and I have to be honest- it wasn’t very good!

On occasion I imagine I have had some sort of excuse- noisy passengers, an overcrowded carriage or a stress-induced headache- but I have also sat there in a quiet near-empty carriage listening to music while looking out the window and making no attempt to reach for my notebook.

Maybe I just can’t write while on the train. I have been known to sit very comfortably reading Writing Magazine only to end up feeling sick and in need of a nap! But… I want to change this, I am spending eight hours a month on a train where I could be doing something constructive, that’s a full working day!

So I put it to my readers-

Can you write on a train and if you can how do you do it?

I’m wide open for advice on this one. Alternatively should I just give in, enjoy the journey and use my status as a writer as an excuse to eavesdrop on the conversation of fellow passengers.

The Weekend Novelist

Sitting on my bookshelves I have countless books on writing that, despite spending the money buying, I have somehow still not yet got round to reading. With writing guides I always feel there is that balance between reading about how to write and spending the time actually writing, you can read all the books on writing there is but unless you actually get, down to some writing it’s pointless. Besides which, as we all know, there are no hard and fast rules on writing and no one can write the thing for you.

One book I have however recently decided to put to some use is The Weekend Novelist by Robert J. Ray and Bret Norris. As the title suggests it is designed to be a guide for those of us who only have opportunity to write at weekends, and there are a lot of us, full-time jobs and other family and social commitments seem to devour the week! But now I have a book I want to write and unfortunately I know myself well enough to know I need to have some sort of plan in place if I ever want to see it completed.

The Weekend Novelist works like a 52 week plan from plotting to re-writes and this could be exactly what I need. So far I’m on Chapter 3 and already I have a much better idea of where I’m going with my plot and I’m someone who needs that or I’ll get a third of the way through the novel and feel completely lost. I always hear about these amazing writers who start writing and work out the plot as they go along, I thoroughly envy them. For me I need some sort of plan or I feel like I’m rambling on with no real end point to be aiming for.

Now I will admit I am sceptical about whether a novel can be written to a weekly plan but I think it’s worth a try because even if it’s not perfect and it turns out in a year’s time this hasn’t been the best way to write a novel at least I will have written a substantial amount and surely I’ll be able to do something with it.

So here’s to the next 52 weeks (well, technically less now I’m on Chapter 3 but you get the idea). Wish me luck!

The Seven Big Fears

Money, time and competition are just some of the obstacles would-be writers have to overcome in order to make any sort of progress in their writing career but the most debilitating aspect is usually the writer themselves.

‘Your Writing Coach’ by Jurgen Wolff also makes this point stating that the number one obstacle on your road to success is you. It’s a hard opening statement but one that is often ignored in a world of numerous creative writing course and writing guides. There are huge parts of becoming a successful writer that are somewhat beyond our control, such as market fluctuations and whether a prospective publisher is in a good mood the day he reads your manuscript, but what we write and they way we write it are not.

Jurgen Wolff explains in Chapter One that the obstacles we give ourselves stem from a fears which he calls The Seven Big Fears:

  • The fear of rejection
  • The fear that it won’t be good enough
  • The fear of success
  • The fear of revealing too much
  • The fear that you have only one book in you
  • The fear that you’re too old
  • The fear of being overwhelmed by research

Do you recognise some of them in you? I was immediately able to identify with three of them. All writers encounter fears at some point, we would not be human if we did not, but what is important is how we overcome them and not allow them to hinder what we do.
I will be doing seven follow-up blogs on this exploring each of the fears and how they effect writers as well as how they can be overcome.

‘Your Writing Coach’ by Jurgen Wolff is now available to buy on Amazon.

Wanna Be a Writer We’ve Heard Of?

Over the past week I have been absorbing a wealth of information from Jane Wenham-Jone’s latest writing guide ‘Wanna Be a Writer We’ve Heard Of?’. The follow up to the popular and humorous ‘Wanna Be a Writer?’, it focuses on self-promotion after publication, an aspect of being a writer many find the most difficult.

From her own experience, and as a self-confessed ‘media-tart’, Jane gives her readers advice on how to raise their profile with talks and articles and the best methods in how to do this.

Various contributions have been made to the book from PR experts and other writers, such as Jill Mansell, giving the reader a wide spectrum of expertise with areas covered including the launch party, networking and book signings.

Even as an unpublished writer I have found the book helpful, instilling information and advice within me that I hope to be of some use in the near future when I AM published. More than this it inspires me to get published so I can have that amazing launch party and become good friends with my local book store.