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14-12-2023

In this installment of 'How I Write', Royal Literary Fund writers discuss how they cope with the urge to procrastinate, touching on issues such as background noise, the usefulness of deadlines and the perils of having room with a view.

'The advice that the editor gave, that the readers want to know more about the kestrel flying above the rainbow that you see from the mountain pass in Wales and less about what it’s like to change a tyre in the rain? They’re not wrong.'
'Julia Cameron states that writer’s block needs to be radically reconfigured as a sign that the writer has too many ideas, not too few. When I read that for the first time, it wasn’t so much a lightbulb moment as a full-scale Son et lumière in my head.'
'Knowing your own best work rhythms will save you both from making excuses, and from expecting too much of yourself at the wrong moment. You will learn to identify quite distinct phases; when you are on song as opposed to merely competent. '
Laura Barnett explores the fears she experienced in pregnancy and early motherhood and how she reconciled her new role, as mother to a young son, with her writer self.
'If you’re lucky, something else kicks in: a kind of defiance that makes you dig deep. Isn’t that deadline a manifestation of yourself, your hopes, your ambitions, your drive to produce something of substance that, against all odds, communicates truly?'
'A couple of weeks after my third book, a story collection, was accepted for publication, I got diagnosed with bowel cancer. A blow like that leaves its mark, even after a complete recovery. If you can’t trust your body, how can you trust yourself? '
'I had my office job, but in the afternoons where once I had written, I sat feeling depressed and lethargic. I tried exercise, baking, gardening and, in knitting, I finally found something that I was even worse at than writing. Then I got knitter’s block. '
'January was a hard, unforgiving month. But if you stopped, if you looked, if you listened, there was so much to get excited about. There were plants to spot, animals and birds. There was fun to be had, running and playing along rivers and canals.'
Amber Lee Dodd shares how a fear of failure led to a crippling case of writer’s block, and how she is reframing her relationship with failure to rediscover her most joyful creative self.
'The chances are W. G. Grace himself was born with less fuss than my opening paragraph. By lunchtime I had given him a date of birth, an address, two parents and four grandparents. In the process I had become a gibbering wreck.'
'By writing at least 250 words every single day, even when it’s midnight and I’ve spent the day distracting myself, I become more productive at those times when I do put the hours in. Even if the 250 words are rubbish, they keep story and characters alive.'
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