|When and How?|
It's what every writer I've ever met seems to crave - time and space for writing.
Carving out a chunk of time from a busy life just to sit and write seems to be incredibly difficult. But no-one can think of being a writer if they don't write and in the same way as footballers make time to train and play their sport of choice, or swimmers spend regular sessions in the pool, so writers should and could set aside a session of writing time.
So why does it seem so hard? I've been trying to be a writer for over thirty years. But I relegate this most desired of activities to such a low place of importance in my daily life. I work, I do the shopping, the household chores, walk the dog, visit family and friends, clean the car, far more readily than dig out my laptop or tablet or notepad and just write. Perhaps I view writing as a guilty pleasure rather than as a hobby or a job. And because I probably look at it as that - something that I do when everything else has been done - people around me don't expect me to put my writing first and certainly not before them.
So this year, with the help of Gibraltar Writers, I have finally found a session - only small and modest - where all I do is write. No TV in the background, no phone to interrupt me (mobiles on silent only), no kids breaking my train of thought, no dog to take to have an untimely wee, no hearing the washing machine telling me the kids' uniform and hubby's trousers are ready to hang out to dry, not even wondering whether the kids have had their supper (their dad is perfectly capable of seeing to their needs). One Tuesday a month, I can go to the John Mackinosh Hall, to a dimly lit and sparsely furnished room where internet connectivity is so poor that social media sites can rarely interfere with my train of thought, turn on the laptop and just write. Okay, so two hours a month is hardly going to see the 21st century version of War and Peace written, but I produced a short story draft last month, and this month, maybe the first draft of a competition entry.
Which takes me to the next point. Space. I live in a pretty cramped apartment. Tucked into a corner of the living room is my desk and computer. Space to write, physical space is important. It's nice to have a desk and computer. I have books on shelves near me and in the drawers I have notes and old print outs of manuscripts. So far so good. But just behind me is the TV. It's where the family watch evening programmes. Not conducive to uninterrupted thinking.
Space for writing is about mental space as much as physical space. We have the technology these days - tablets with a plethora of novel writing apps can help you achieve that goal of writing the novel. But it's no more sophisticated really than paper and the back of an envelope if you cannot think your plot, or dream up your characters. Just as a swimmer will need a pool or some body of water to master their craft, or a footballer a pitch or a basketball player a hoop high on a wall and a ball, so a writer needs space physical and mental to dream up those stories and string those words together. J K Rowling did it in cafes and hotel rooms. The John Mackintosh Hall monthly session is a step in the right direction for me. And in the summer, there are shady, quiet corners of Alameda Gardens, begging to be used to dream up a best seller!