I've got a novel to revise.
At least the York Festival of Writing and the Historical Novel Society Conference have been and gone. But the next Self-Editing Your Novel course is about to start, I'm off to Yorkshire for the Bronte Parsonage Museum's Festival of Contemporary Women's Writing and life is decidedly busy on other fronts.
Then there are the writers I'm helping as a tutor and mentor, and occasionally boring old real life has to be dealt with. And did I mention (no, surely not!) that I have a new book coming out in February? So there are press-releases, and illustrations, and absolutely, totally and completely the last chance to find those typos. Then there's the 3am horrors I get of every reviewer hating the new book and saying so - and the next night's variation, which is that it isn't reviewed at all.
And though it's obvious that the horrors can be paralysing, and other work has a way of bleeding into what ought to be writing time, the good stuff also derails me. It's nice to be involved in a good writing workshop; it's good career sense to browse in the library or make contact with other writers on social media; and why wouldn't I say "Yes" to the next person who ask me to do work which I need or enjoy? And that's before we even start counting all the other things that other people, from the government to the baby, demand that you to treat as being more important and more urgent than your writing. Given the such demands and pleasures, which of us wants, instead, to deliberately shut the door and to fight our way into a hydra-headed plot-muddle, or crawl along picking up every tiny consequence of having moved a crucial scene from a catacomb to the deck of a square-rigger?
So half a hundred things can stop you knuckling down to the very thing which is at the core of all of this, the thing without which none of it would be happening: your own writing.
And this is a problem for writers whether or not you earn your living by writing and writing-related work. It is not easy, and often not appealing, to go on shutting up the anti-writing demon, and keep on keeping on at something which is lonely, hard work, not immediately rewarding and doesn't have to be done today ... because maybe tomorrow would do. But that way procrastination lies.
In fact, this time I do actually know what I must do, I think, and I've broken it down into clear and specific jobs, so that I don't fiddle. But actually settling down and doing it, on the other hand...
So when novelist Jenn Ashworth said on Facebook (and Instagram, and Twitter) that she was settling in for another #100days of writing, I jumped in to join her. Jenn is not only a terrific writer - you may remember her terrific guest post here on the Itch about how her novel Fell works - but a vastly experienced teacher, and mentor for Arvon and elswhere. She's @jennashworth82 on Instagram, and @jennashworth on Twitter.
Not that "joining" is exactly formal. I'll let Jenn explain:
I did a quick count yesterday and I think there are about 40 of you, across various platforms, signed up to join in with the second #100daysofwriting and that isn’t counting those of you who started earlier this month or in August.
I’m a bit anxious. What if I mess up and you’re all looking at me? Never mind. There have been a lot of questions so I will try to respond in this post.
Anyone can join in. Just turn up every day. One sentence counts. Opening the word document counts. Taking yourself for a walk or a nap to figure out a problem counts. Any type of writing counts. You don’t have to be published or be working toward publication.
No word count boot camp or productivity porn. If you don’t have the spoons to do this every day or you care for other people then you can change the rules so they suit you. If writing is part of your job (academic friends who are working to contract - this is for you) and you need to care for yourself and your colleagues by resisting work at weekends, then change the rules to make it work for you. If you miss a day or a week or change your mind it is okay.
Let’s be gentle and see what happens: I’m doing this because it reminds me to make writing more important than the stuff other people want me to make important. Let’s go! 2/100
And she went into more detail about how and why it works, here on the Prolifiko blog.
So "signing up" is simply making a decision, for yourself, that showing up to the page on as many every days as your life allows will be useful to you and your writing. Some of those doing #100daysofwriting are writing PhDs, or poetry, or articles. The hashtag is just a way of us connecting with each other: acknowledging that we're all writing, but that the writing is whatever and however it and each of us, today, need it to be. And the 2/100, or whatever, is your own, personal count of where you are in the hundred days. Everyone's will be different
In my case, on this first day I've done some writing in the sense of importing the draft from Word, and getting it ship-shape as a fresh Scrivener project, and using note-making to get my creative brain going on the specifics of how to achieve what I know it needs. I've also done some more writing as thinking on my walk. That the words in the draft itself are no different doesn't matter. It all counts - it's all writing. 1/100