Tuesday, 7 October 2014
Can ET riding on a car inspire me to get on with my writing? Writing when you don't feel like it by Juliet Clare Bell
Writing is personal, whatever it's about. And that's a good thing -it's what gives the story or article or piece, voice.
There are times, though, when it's easier to get on with less personal work, like sorting out school visits, doing professional critiques, preparing SCBWI stuff for an upcoming conference...
Sometimes, it's easier not to pick up a pen and actually write, and now seems to be one of those times. But that's not always very convenient. So, what do you do when you're feeling more inclined to make your google calendar look really colourful and pretty?
Look at all those colours (but not at the chocolate wrapper)
or when those windows suddenly look in urgent need of a clean, even though you've been completely oblivious to the mini hand smears until now...?
How can I possibly write when my window looks like that?
I thought I'd better take a leaf out of my teaching book. I'm always telling students, adults and children alike, that ideas are all around you and that you just have to be receptive to them. I was reminded of this from a friend's recent blog post, written by her primary-aged children, last week. It was a list of all the things they'd seen on a walk
It's great. (I particularly like the two pigeons out on a romantic walk, and a mushroom looking like a curly wurly swirly poo, and falling leaves that we reached up to catch.)
I decided to try that, but the children were at school and I walked in a slightly different direction from my friends and felt less inspired...
and then I decided to clear out the loft.
Now that was more like it. I found loads of old photos (including ET, above), letters, postcards and best of all, old school books from when I was five and six.
But would it spark any ideas for stories?
Well, maybe not that story exactly, but it's reminded me of the incident and some things around it that might be worth playing around with (and it was certainly very funny).
"Someone else came and he is going tonight we think". Did he go? Is he still there? That got me thinking (though perhaps not for a picture book).
I'm not sure I'd get away with this kind of cheat any more...
and the goal might need to be a little harder for the protagonist to achieve than this
But there's something good about rediscovering an old preoccupation with magic pigs
and the dated work has an added excitement to it
It's been a good way of reconnecting with things a little, even if some of those things are pretty poignant
And in the meantime, I'm trying to be more present, aware of what I'm doing -and open to how I could incorporate it into a story (ok, that kind of goes against the being present bit). At lunch, I started making a lentil soup and got half way through making it before discovering that I didn't have any lentils. After I'd added enough water for an ingredient that was now missing. What could I do to my watery soup? Well, I looked around and turned it into anything goes soup
which kind of got me thinking along the right lines for picture books (and tasted ok, in spite of the slightly unusual ingredients).
And it may not be relevant but I really enjoyed this recent picture by one of my children
and this spider who was stretched out along a light-coloured wall, possibly to make the most of the sun? There were three of them together and I'd never seen spiders do that before...
Unfortunately, what I REALLY need to be doing right now is editing various manuscripts. And all the fun idea-generating distractions in the world won't help me with that. So I need to get down to it and focus. And actually, that pretty google calendar is helping me prioritise, but maybe I should just change that green to purple...
What do you do to get yourself going again when you're feeling less than inspired to write or edit?
Juliet Clare Bell (always called Clare) is a children's author who's excited about PiBoIdMo, the upcoming SCBWI British Isles Annual Conference in Winchester (in which she's appearing as a panelist representing creative non-fiction picture books, and is overseeing the crazy but fun and useful Friday Night Critique) and the tasty preparation for her first creative nonfiction picture book (out in 2015) on the remarkable Cadbury Brothers. www.julietclarebell.com