My Writing Day

(published in the ACT Writers Centre monthly magazine, 2016)

Being a writer is both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes it’s like singing, and sometimes it’s torture. There are days when the words fly onto the page and days when it’s harder than labour (… I still remember how painful that can be).

So why do I do it? That’s a very good question. On bad days, it’s a mystery to me. But when the flow is on and words feel like music, writing is the biggest high in the world. You tap into that inner fountain of creativity and glory pours forth (until it comes to editing).

How do I make writing happen? I have two teenagers who play soccer and music, so I am, predictably, the maternal taxi service. I’m also the cook, the homework motivator, the walker of the dog, and I work part time as a veterinarian. Around all that, I have to fit in my writing. It’s easy to procrastinate with modern technological temptations like Facebook, Google and Twitter, but when I really want to get going I try not to login. Recently, I pumped out 460 pages in fourteen weeks, which must be my record. Those pages weren’t beautiful … I’m currently wading through their murky depths. But that splurge of creativity wouldn’t have happened had I left Facebook open.

My day starts with motherly organization: shouting to eject the teenagers from bed, shouting to get music practice going, shouting to un-glue my daughter from the mirror. Once the kids are gone, I’m a domestic whirlwind: washing on, washing out, bills paid, kitchen tidied. Then I turn on the computer and dive in.

I write till I’m hungry, then I take a quick break and write again till the kids get home. If I get stuck, I take the dog for a walk and usually everything falls into place. Sometimes solutions are easier to find in the sky than on a screen.

My four clear writing days are very precious. I’d love to write each day because it helps continuity - but vet days and weekends don’t work: I’ve tried but it ends up in fights. I don’t write past nine at night, because then I can’t sleep. And if I don’t sleep, everyone is ugly.

So here’s my final advice. Write whenever you can. And don’t forget opportunistic moments – when the kids are quiet with homework, you can write till they need you. Then there are notebooks: I buy them small to fit in my handbag so I can jot down ideas as they arise. The perfect sentence always comes when you don’t have a pen. Steal one if you have to.

Remember always that writing is a deep desire, not a high-paying profession. And do it because you love it, not for praise. For pleasure, not for fame. Write because it’s something you need to do – everything else is icing on the cake.