I'm coming to the end of a writing hiatus. In the midst of berating myself I've come to value the a non-writing period; a chance to take stock, incubate and, if necessary, recalibrate.

While there are numerous very good reasons in my 'outside-of-writing' life, if something like that really exists (it's all grist for the mill isn't it?), that might justify the break, I know it's not these.

I think my Muse has hit the Pause button, perhaps as she stifled a yawn as I approached the potentially treacherous mid point of the novel. And she's held her hand over it so I won't hit Play, waving a finger of the other hand at me - 'not yet, go out and get some fresh air'.

'Ok,' I sighed shrugging my shoulders and feeling them and my thoughts loosening. I've become alert to new ideas: a chance trip to the spice markets in Bali heightened my character's senses; in a random choice of movie on the plane on the way home my Muse, disguised as my character, waved to me from the side of the set - 'Take note!' she said.

So, I've stopped berating myself, inhaling instead the heady mix of fresh ideas.

She knew what she was doing, my Muse, but then, that's what a Muse is for isn't it? She's taken her hand off the button and is waving to me now from the page. Hit Play!

 

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AuthorAmanda Apthorpe

I'm excited to announce that my latest work on Time Management for Writers will be out this year. The guide is a compilation of strategies that I have taught, presented at conferences in NZ and UK, discussed on radio, and published as a conference paper. It draws on my own experience as a teacher of creative writing, as an academic and, of course, from my own experience juggling other life demands with my desire to write. 

It's a must-have for writers!

Watch this space. I'll keep you posted. 

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AuthorAmanda Apthorpe

Join me next Wednesday 15 November 6-7pm for my online workshop: Time Management for Writers. Book through Writers Victoria:

https://writersvictoria.org.au/civicrm/event/register?id=308&reset=1

 

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AuthorAmanda Apthorpe

A confession. I don't have all the answers. In fact, there are times when I think I don't have ANY answers - about writing. 

I've said that 'writer's block' was really just another word for procrastination, or even lack of motivation, but now I think that's wrong. To those of you who read on and find that, really, I'm just slow at catching on to something everyone else knows, I apologise. The thing is that sometimes you have to experience something before it's truly known, and I haven't really experienced writer's block before. Honestly. 

I changed my life's direction to do this thing - to write, and have spent the last month off work staring at the pages of the novel in progress. I've written: nothing. I began to berate myself, anticipating the self-admonishment for a lost opportunity once I return to work on Monday. However, I also like myself, and know myself, and wondered if this unusual response to writing was trying to tell me something and that I needed to listen. 

I asked myself: Do you think you're not good enough? Do you feel 'pressured' because you've been lucky enough to have two novels published and now you're scared the novel in progress won't be any good and you'll lose face? Is there something wrong with the current novel and you need to face it? 

There was an ounce of truth in the first two thoughts, but only an ounce (or two grams). Not feeling 'good enough' is a common feeling for writers; I'm used to that and, rather than let it deter me, I prefer to push myself a bit harder. If I feel 'pressured' it's only because I'm doing that to myself; nobody else is doing it.

But there IS something wrong with the current novel. It's not the one I should be writing now. 

I believe it will be a great one (to me). I believe that what I've written already, when shaped, will, perhaps, be my best work. The thing is, it will have it's time and now isn't it. Why? Because I need something else. Writing, at least for me, provides me with joy and comfort and solace in the context of whatever else is going on in my life. When I haven't been writing these holidays I've been painting (walls, not canvasses); cooking aromatic spice dishes; gardening - all in all, creative stuff that has taken me away from writing. As I allowed this to happen, a new idea emerged. I battled that for a while. I'm the type of person who needs to finish what she's started and I felt guilty about the novel in progress and, more significantly, guilty about not continuing my characters' journeys. In fact I felt unfaithful. (That's a good sign and very much a reason to return to them one day soon.) So I promised my people I'd return, took out my journal and my pen and began … a new story. 

The writer's block has diverted the stream for the moment, and this new story's flowing fast. 

 

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AuthorAmanda Apthorpe