MAKE A MOVE

I think it’s fair to say that my third novel has proved to be tougher than the second.

Granted, this year has thrown a great many obstacles at me to try and de-rail my progress but it’s been hard work getting the words down.

Which is why I made the decision to take this week off work with the express purpose of getting some wring done.

We all say about practically anything in our lives, that when we have problems completing a given task or role, “If I only had more time”. When I worked in the fitness industry all those years ago, it was a common gripe that I heard when people described the issues that were stopping them being able to exercise and it’s the easiest thing to fall back on in every situation.

Time is a precious thing and we all have to make sure that we spend the currency wisely but that is a very different thing to spending it as we should.

I know, for example, that during the busiest periods in work, my working day can stretch to ten or twelve hours quite easily and there’ll be a great deal of mental gymnastics required to keep all of the tasks and requests heading in the right direction. I also know that after that, I SHOULD be heading to do some form of physical activity as I once did. More often than not, I WISELY (for me) choose to spend time with my wife relaxing at home.

I recognise that the chance to unwind my mind after the working day in the way I do with my wife is more valuable to me that heading off to the gym. If there were more hours in the day then it’s likely that I’d head out and train later on but for me, the available hours of an evening can be best spent doing something else. I become better doing what I do because I value my time with my wife.

We don’t fit that stuff in that there never seems to be time for because we value doing something else more.

I noticed that I needed to do something stronger than normal to get the writing moving again and taking a week to become a full writing week was the perfect idea. I’m showing myself as much as anybody, that I value my writing. I place a real value on what I do at the keyboard and being able to set aside a complete block of time for the sole purpose of working on the next book is reinforcing that very fact.

And after day one, I can certainly say that I’m getting the old machine moving again.

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HOW MANY?

It has often been said that us men are incapable of multitasking. Everyone knows that us lads just focus on one thing at a time and the fairer sex are the ones who can juggle all of the various different balls that can get thrown at them during the every day life we all experience.

Now aside from any scientific question marks which are raised from the idea, when I write, I find myself actually enjoying the challenge of doing many things at once.

Now it’s not a question of me having a different computer under each hand and a pen grasped in my toes, rather it’s me having lots of projects going at once.

I’m working on the third book in the Circle series but also on a second collection of short stories so I’ve found myself working on four different short stories and the novel all at the same time.

On any given day I could be writing about almost anything and I bounce around between the topics and just go where the various stories take me. Now it could be easy to say that I should be focusing on a single project at a time and not spreading my creative juices about but for me, being able to move where my imagination takes me, where I have the ‘oomph’ on any given day gives me a great deal more flexibility to be able to aim my creativity at the topic that I feel most drawn to means that I can keep the wheels of writing turning regularly even if I don’t ‘feel’ a particular story on any given day.

Oddly, I find it helps that I put a particular set of characters and situations away to allow me to work on another, by giving me the chance to relax about them. If I’d only ever worked on a single topic at a time, and I have in the past, when you have a dip in creativity, you’re stuck with nowhere to go and aside from the lack of words, the feelings of frustration just make things worse. You can try to force the point but that just pushes you further away from where you want to be. With just the one topic, a bad day can turn into a bad week and a bad month and all of a sudden there’s been an age where you’ve done nothing at all.

By keeping lots of irons in the fire I’m able to change the focus as and when I need to so not only will there be something that I can work on on whatever day, but by removing the risk of getting stuck in the barren wasteland of no inspiration, I’m able to stay away from frustration. I can maintain a pace in my writing even when a particular idea needs to be left fallow for a while.

We all need to have focus on the important things in life but it’s important to make sure that don’t become too cycloptic and risk getting stuck in the creative mud.

I WISH

You know what? I’ll admit it. There may be a little bit of wish fulfillment in the stories I write.

I’ve pointed out before that there will be elements of me that will no doubt creep into the characters and the story as a whole but that I’m always trying my best to be able to skirt the line of just making myself the main character and becoming the all conquering super hero.

It’s tempting though.

Who wouldn’t want to have any and all abilities to do, say or have anything and everything the heart could ever desire?

Look at your life?

What is it you want the most?

Unlimited money? Flight? Super intelligence? All of them and more?

A writer has unlimited power to create the world and the systems he or she wants. They can be everything. They can be anything. Do anything. They can have anything and there will be no-one to stop them having the kind of world unfold that their deepest desires may want.

For the writer who is so inclined, they can become an almost God like creator of their very own perfect existence where all of the perceived injustices they find in the real world can be corrected. The little guy will finally win out. Evil will no longer rule the roost and justice will finally, finally be served.

And so I return to my admission that there is a little wish fulfillment in my first book, The Circle of Fire. I don’t mean the Dragon stuff, the magic or the wealth. The action is cool but not anything I’d like to see first hand, it’d more than likely hurt.

The one detail in there which is purely down to my own wishing?

Amongst all of the Dragon fighting and intrigue, I just want to see Wales win at rugby.

HOW

How do you do anything?

How can you get the best out of your time, making sure that you can fit everything into what needs to be done to get the results you’re looking for?

When I write, I do find that I have very particular needs to give me what I require and they all seem to start in or around a pub. I wrote roughly seventy percent of my first book and a fair chunk of the gaggle of short stories I’ve packed into my stable in The Whittington Arms pub near us. In there I find that I can get to a point that my mind just bustles along in the way I need it to. The feeling in the narrative I come up with seems to be that extra step on from than that I can manage when I’m working at home.

I‘ve said on Facebook before that I really struggle to be able to concentrate when I’m working in an environment of quiet and calm. Give me a decent amount of random background noise and I’m much more able to keep my attention where it has to be. Just imagine me sat in a quiet room but looking in every direction you can come up with just because my mind keeps wandering. White noise it is.

Strangely though, it isn’t just a bland humming noise that I need. This would probably put me to sleep pretty well but not much else.

I’d like to think that this mind set has been driven by the fact that I’ve spent my working life either in gyms (where there’s always a monotonous beat bouncing along as motivation for those training) or on a warehouse floor (my current base of operations has me flying a computer near to loads of machinery and the occasional fork lift). The trouble is I think that that only has a part to play. I do function well in an environment with some noise and life to it and a great fit is my local..

I know, I know, ‘it’s just an excuse to go and get a few brews down your neck all in the guise of creation’. Well maybe a little but I do get the best results in the pub. I nurse the drinks along rather than just get hammered. You can all relax, I don’t have a problem. Whether it’s the mental effect of the background noise and ‘fuel’ or just the fact I’m putting myself in a different location to work. At home, well that’s where I relax and lay on the sofa. That’s where we do all the normal things that are away from ‘work’ and there’s always something to do. I have tried having a pint at  home to see if there was any difference but the results were the same. By leaving and going somewhere else, I can get the best of both worlds.

It does come with its pitfalls though.

I once wrote an entire chapter of the first book and called one character by anothers name, all thanks to the effect of my creative ‘fuel’ of choice. There may be some disagreement over if Earnest Hemingway actually said “Write drunk, edit sober” but that doesn’t stop it being true.

So here we are. I’ve given a little view on what I do to start the wheels of the creative process. I have a great time writing because of the freedom of the story. I love knotting up the tales and creating puzzles that have to be worked out. But I enjoy my individual process and the odd drink.

Long may it continue to give me the ideas I need.