On being a writer...

A celebration of the writing process, of being a writer, of all the weird things that pass through a writing brain...

Monday, 24 January 2011


It's 17.03. That means cup of tea time before the last lap until 6.p.m. I can't help laughing when someone asks the question: 'How do you write? Do you have a strict routine?' Strict? You could set your clocks by me. Everything is done to routine; breaks, bits of housework, the time when I'm allowed to look at emails, the time when I might phone someone.

I'm certainly not alone. Routines serve all kinds of purpose. For a start they get the job done. A book can't be written unless the time is put in, end of story. And they take away choice. I can't go off shopping at eleven on a writing day. I simply wouldn't allow it, so there are no decisions to be made. And they make a day in which there might be nothing except a very unwieldy bit of a chapter to write, have a bit of shape, even if the writing hasn't. When the worst situation hits - a brick wall or lack of ideas - at the very least I know that in forty minutes time I'll be released from my desk to fold the washing or post a letter.

Or is this obsessive compulsive behaviour? A bit, I suspect. But find me a writer who doesn't have some small addiction to routine. In the end, I believe it's a bit of a luxury. On the days when time is squeezed, the gentle rhythm is interrupted and more time is spent settling to work, fumbling to reestablish a pattern.

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