Thursday, 25 April 2013

Zen and the art of writing by Abie Longstaff

It's a funny business, this writing lark.

One moment you can be feeling low and convinced you'll never write again (see my previous, miserable post). The next moment you can be sitting on a fantastic new book deal (yay! More detail to come...)

I guess the trick (which I still haven't learned) is to simply enjoy the quiet periods: take some time off, see family and friends, play, draw, rest, shop - whatever your brain needs to recharge.

In my busy times I work hard. I write while juggling children and a day job, and my writing moments are snatched from my daily life. I write on the tube, in my lunch break, at gymnastics pick-up, in the queue at the supermarket; wherever I can. It's often frenetic; dashing home to scribble a plot down before I forget it, or getting up early to write character notes before I set off for work.

The last couple of months my work has been quieter. After the initial panic of eek! what shall I do? I settled into a slower routine. I started to play a bit more, draw a bit more and take longer over my plots and characters.

I've also caught up on all my boring admin,

been to France to visit my parents,

seen a wonderful exhibition of picture books,

done lots of lovely walking,


and spent proper time with the kids. All of which has helped me recharge ready for the frantic writing ahead.

It's reminded me of Jane's lovely post on composting

where she wrote about taking the time to let ideas grow. All that time recharging has brought loads of ideas to the surface, ideas that are ready to grow into books.

Next time things are quiet, instead of panicking, I'm going to tell myself to enjoy the peace and use the time to recharge.


Moira Butterfield said...

Yes, having quiet time and giving projects space is so important, Abie. Thank you so much for reminding me. I've realised it's what I need to do right now with a few things. 'Don't panic, Mr Mannering!' is one of the phrases I often trot out (shows my age) and then I rush around like Corporal Jones, getting nowhere.I often tend to have this kind of panic when I get a new idea, rushing into it and somehow overcooking it. Reflection time needed.

Jane Clarke said...

Yes, try to enjoy the down time as well as the up time. Glad you're feeling refreshed, Abie - and congratulations on the fantastic new book deal!

Linda Strachan said...

Lovely post, Abie.
It is important to have quiet times as well as busy times, but it's not always easy to remember that when things go quiet. You are right, the quiet times are to be enjoyed, to let yourself have thinking time and time to enjoy the other things that feed the imagination.

Pippa Goodhart said...

Exciting that you've got a new book deal, and lots of new ideas. Tell more!!

Elli Woollard said...

Yay for the book deal! And I really must take your advice about quiet times; my tendency is to go into Major Panic Mode if I can't write anything decent for more than 24 hours, which really can't be healthy.

Playing by the book said...

Very exciting to hear that you've got a new book deal!

Candy Gourlay said...

Thanks for the reminder. Down time is very nervous making in this uncertain world. Hurrah for your book deal!

Abie Longstaff said...

Thanks for all your comments. I agree down time is scary! Not sure how good I'll be at taking my own advice to chill out...

Lynne Garner said...

I do tend to panic when it's quiet because if I don't write I don't earn. But I do agree some down time must be taken otherwise those ideas just won't flow. Looking forward to finding out about your new book deal.

Paeony Lewis said...

Yes, I too am looking forward to hearing about your new children's picture book project. Congrats. I need to be careful with down time - I need deadlines and pressure!

Juliet Clare Bell said...

Very true and particularly apt for me at the moment.