Every Little Bit Helps

Every Little Bit Helps.

I’ve been writing a novel for thirteen months. This makes the time I’ve been writing it longer than the time I’ve ever stayed in one job. I’m one of those people that tend to get bored with jobs/activities after about six months.

I am not bored with my novel. That’s the first thing I should say. I think about it most of every day. I wake up with new plot lines at the edge of my brain. I visualize the end product, the finished draft.

But, sometimes, I find it hard to write the damn thing.

 

A Matter of Time.

It’s not that I don’t want to write my novel. I occasionally fantasize about being locked away with it for a month and emerging thirty blissful and exhausting days later with a full draft. But, short of either a minor miracle or major disaster, I don’t have a spare month. I have, as I mentioned last week, the place-I-must-go-to-make-money (aka the day job). I have a girlfriend who I never seem to be able to spend enough time with. I like to keep in touch with my parents. I have a rescue dog that needs every second of my every day to feel secure. There are days when there’s no room for a novel.

 

Making Appointments.

I’ve tried several ways to solve this. I’ve scheduled in huge chunks of time in my diary to write. I’ve decamped my MacBook from my office to the living room so the dog feels less lonely. (A tactic that backfired when I noticed how many random ‘z’s she had pawed in to my manuscript.) But sometimes, for whatever reason, it doesn’t get done. Maybe I’m tired, maybe I’m sick, maybe I’m just lazy. But I have more non-writing days than I would like or can afford.

 

Start Small.

This week, I read an amazing tip. Birmingham writer Anna Lawrence Pietroni, a writer I met at a workshop last year, runs this blog. It’s called 3 x 5 and runs on the idea of writing on index cards. You write little and often, never overwhelming yourself. I had a stack of index cards bought for novel plotting (before I realized plotting in advance was not for me). Worth a try, I thought.

My solitary index card, when I typed it up, led to the effortless production of over 1000 words. A triumph in recent weeks. By limiting myself to such a small space, the rebel in me was almost obliged to exceed it. Since then, I’ve started everything I’ve written—short stories, shopping lists, a PhD proposal—on index cards.

Sometimes, all you need is to start small.

 

Helen Dring is a fiction writer from Liverpool, England. She is studying for an MA in Creative Writing and is currently writing her first novel. She likes fairy tales, ghost stories and modern history.

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