There are times, I think when all writers; published and unpublished struggle to write. I spent a month this summer writing at every opportunity. In the final week, I worked until 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning every day. My motivation was the deadline for The RNA's New Writers' Scheme, a scheme which is wonderful not just because it gives unpublished writers the opportunity to have a whole manuscript critiqued by a published writer, but also because it gives unpublished writers a deadline. It's amazing how quickly I can produce writing of a standard I'm happy with when I'm working towards a deadline. When there is no deadline or when it's months away, I amble along: researching, mulling and producing sub-standard prose. Does a writer needs these times of no pressure so that when the pressure is there they can go for it?
I need to produce a decent draft of Book 2 by August 2013 and at the moment that deadline seems a long way away. I'm seeking out books and websites of interest and writing at a leisurely pace. I've considered taking part in this year's NaNoWriMo, but instead I'll aim for a certain number of words or time spent writing each day in November so I can complete the first draft by Christmas.
How do you get back into writing when you've had a break from it? I do things loosely associated with my novel: reading books and watching films which can be used for research.
Other activities such as the following seem to get the brain going:
• Taking photographs: Pinterest and Instagram are great places to collect them.
• Visiting art galleries and museums: I recently went to The National Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery and The National History Museum. My second novel has working title, 'The Painting' and I gathered some information at the art galleries. Just looking at paintings, old and new is inspiring.
• Reading novels which inspire me: I recently read I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith-wonderful. The main character's father is a writer struggling to write his second novel...
• Scenic walks: I love visiting National Trust houses and their surrounding gardens. The history of the houses: the portraits, the furniture etc is inspiring. One of my favourite walks in London is from Waterloo station across either of the footbridges over the River Thames to Embankment: one has a view of Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament and the London Eye. There's a Le Pain Quotidien en route which serves coffee, hot chocolate in a bowl French-style and wonderful cakes.
Sometimes ideas come from nowhere when I'm getting on with everyday life. This morning I went to buy a dustpan and brush as the one we'd had for about ten years finally snapped in two. Whilst walking back to the car park, I looked through the windows of a closed restaurant and the solution to an impasse in the plot for Book 2 came from nowhere. Random thoughts I'd had before and research I'd read all suddenly linked together in my mind. A significant part of writing needs to be spent mulling I think.
How do you get back into writing after a break? Do you like a deadline? I'd be interested to read your comments on anything relating to the above.
What's in a photo?
Bringing scenes to life with photographs
Paragraph Planet: 75 words on The Ditchley Portrait