Okay, let’s just dive in. I’m assuming you’re here because you are (a) a parent and (b) trying hard to carve out space for writing in your life. Maybe you have other caring commitments too. You may very well have a job that eats up more than its fair share of your week, and you might have a spouse who expects to at least see your face from time to time. Plus, you need to eat and sleep (although that last one, if your kids are like mine… maybe not so much).
It can feel overwhelming. It is overwhelming. I know it is: I’m living it with you. But if you’re here, I’m guessing it’s because without having space to write, even just a little, your life feels… flat. Not empty — of course — but missing something. Like there’s a spark that you just can’t seem to light. And yet, with eight million conflicting demands and only twenty-four hours in each day, how do you justify prioritising something as de-prioritisable as making fiction?
An occasional series looking at the genesis of a story, from the initial spark of inspiration, through conceptual development, the writing process, and what happens next, with tips based on what I’ve learned along the way. In this blog, I’ll be looking at On the Brink, the sequel to my Arthur C Clarke Award-shortlisted debut novel Edge of Heaven.
In spring 2003, I was at something of a crossroads in my life. Circumstances had conspired to make it necessary to leave a job that I adored, and I’d been doing temporary admin work to pay the bills. I’d decided to go back to college in the autumn to study for a qualification in journalism, because I was still trying to find a way to write for a living and I’d had the grand total of one short story published in the entire history of ever, so fiction didn't seem like a viable career option just yet. But September was months away, and I had a whole summer to fill before that. And then I found an advert for temporary factory workers in the Netherlands, and I knew immediately that this was what I'd been looking for.
So, the 2020s have been… less than optimal so far, really. (As a dystopian sci-fi author who released a pandemic novel in April 2020, it’s been quite the ride.) I’m going to start with my usual injunction to please be kind to yourself, first and foremost, in 2022, as I hope you’ve been kind to yourself throughout the past number of years, whether or not you’ve emerged from lockdown having completed all those writing projects you’ve been planning. Remember that the world is suffering a collective trauma right now, which doesn’t play well with creativity. So whether you’ve a brace of novels under your belt or you’ve been stuck on page 2 for the past eighteen months, please remember to celebrate any and all writing that you’ve achieved — because look at the circumstances under which that writing has been done.
With that said, if you’re looking for ways to encourage your word count to soar this year, here are a few things you could try.
Blog updates on the first of every month.