Yeah, but, have you actually started writing?

Wednesday 26 February 2020


That is it, that is the entire blog post.

Happy Wednesday! I'm in the mood to write... just not the book that I told you all I was writing.

The truth is since proudly proclaiming to you all that I was going to write a children's book I've done zero work on it.

I've done several other things instead of writing, including...
Help my friend write her book (my god, she's good)
Toy with getting back into creative edits on Instagram
Go to the gym
Write several lists of things I need to do to write
Write a list of things that need updating on here
Attempt to redesign my logo
Book onto several workshops (only one of which is writing based)

Oh and the big one...

Watch a lot of Netflix.

I mean it's not even an impressive list of distractions, is it? What is that about? Did I get cold feet the minute people started supporting, or even knowing about my idea? Maybe... I know publishing my first piece of fictional-ish writing on here the other week, and receiving no feedback whatsoever was a little disheartening (I'm not fishing or anything, but I will casually drop the link here)...

But in all honesty, this isn't the first time this has happened.

My writing process has always looked a little like this.

Get an idea, get really excited about it, spend a lot of time fleshing that idea out with bullet points, and scribbles, and countless filled notebooks. Then... do nothing... until the deadline gets terrifyingly close and then whack it out in a burst of anxiety-driven productivity.

So maybe calling it a process, is a little grand, but it has almost always worked for me.

I, like a lot of people, love a deadline. I also think giving an idea time to breathe is an excellent thing. But there are two key reasons this "process" has always worked in the past and isn't working now:

1. 99% of everything I've written in the past has been for me to perform. This means that on the day, as long as I really genuinely know my idea, I can to some extent make it up on the spot. It's why I've always really liked that idea-generating process because it was my safety blanket - it took the pressure off learning specific lines. It meant that each performance could be slightly different, and not to get too arty about it, but it meant that each performance was alive. It's also why, when I came to edit things to publish on here instead of performing them, it felt like they needed quite a bit of work doing to them. They had to be a complete piece, I couldn't leave room for improvisation, and I couldn't let a subtle hand gesture or facial expression fill in the gaps.

2. I've always had a real, undeniable, must-be-completed-by, deadline. A venue booked, a leaflet printed, a commissioner asking to see a draft.

Even on the entirely self-driven projects, I had a date to be working towards. Let's face it, no one asked me to make a show about waitressing, but I'd booked a venue, and I'd told people it was happening, and so I had to make it happen.

In fact, I very specifically remember about two weeks before the "premiere", sitting in alone in a rehearsal room, and thinking 'Who the hell said you could do this? Who gave you permission?' and replying to myself 'I said I could, and now I have to. I actually have to make this happen... or... I run away.'

Honestly, I surprised myself when I went with making it happen rather than disappearing off the face of the earth, but it was one of the best things I ever did. Even if I no longer want to perform, even though that era in my life was messy to say the least, even if now, I'm not sure whether or not it was even a good show.

And I know, I know that is how I will feel when I finally sit down and write the actual book. That even if it goes nowhere beyond the file on my desktop, I'll just feel so incredibly proud that I did it. And you would think to chase that high would be motivation enough, but right now, it isn't.

I'm missing a deadline.

No one asked me to write this "book", and I'm yet to work out what the bookish equivalent of 'just booking a venue and doing it' is.

I know myself, I know I can procrastinate and be lazy.  I know that there are things I've done in the past that I wish I'd worked more on - not because anyone else was disappointed, but because I knew deep down, I could have done better, or because when said project was done, it didn't really feel complete to me.

I think maybe I need to just start, and for once try to enjoy the lack of a deadline. To relish the fact that I'm giving myself permission to work on this forever if need be because, while I may never get that triumphant feeling of it being done, neither will I feel like it was completed simply because it had to be, rather than because I was truly finished with it.

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