Insect house


  1. There’s Not Enough Time.

Couldn’t you get up half an hour earlier? Go to bed half an hour later? Slip away to the laptop while your partner is watching yet another debate on Brexit? Keep a notebook handy while you’re ironing or cooking – and instead of listening to music or watching a download of Game of Thrones, jot down ideas, phrases, plot lines? Fragments you can develop later into something useful.

There IS time, if you really want to find it.

2. You’ve just had a rejection.

You need a day, a week, a month, maybe more, to lick your wounds before putting finger to keyboard again. But everybody’s been there. One day someone will surely discover a hidden cache of parchment missives to W. Shakespeare, Esq, telling him that there really isn’t a commercial market for his stuff.

3. You’ve just read your last chapter – and realise you’ve been telling, rather than showing. Worse still, the whole thing is boring crap that nobody in their right mind will ever want to read. You need red wine, chocolate and caffeine, in vast quantities. It’s tough, because you could be right. However, the stuff we buy, read and admire has all been drafted, agonised over, re-written, and then nit-picked by editors before reaching that printed page. Maybe the early efforts of those writers were even worse than yours? The difference is that they stuck with it. Do the same.

4. You’re nitpicking your way through the Artists’ & Writers’ Handbook, selecting agents to whom to send your latest novel. Problem with that is that you’ve only actually written five thousand words so far. Dreaming of success is good, but putting more words on the page is the only way to actually get there.

5. You’ve Got Writer’s Block. This is a valid one, and tough to deal with. Why not leaf through some of your old stuff? Read it through and highlight the good bits. There must be some. Then fix yourself a mug of coffee and grab a pen. Could something from the bottom of the desk drawer be revamped? Could the less good short stories be rewritten, made first-of-all less bad, then promising, then actually rather good? What about crossing through all the adverbs and replacing the verbs with more active ones? Exercise your writing muscles and you might surprise yourself. See Excuse No.3 above.

6. That Insect House must be fixed to the summerhouse NOW. Learn to delegate. Get those you live with to help you write by doing stuff for you around the house or garden, or occasionally preparing the evening meal. If they don’t cook, maybe they could bring in a takeaway once a week? They will expect to be mentioned inside your freshly published book – along the lines of ‘I couldn’t have done it without my dear husband, darling children, etc etc…’ Won’t they?   Make them earn it!

An excuse is an excuse is an excuse…