Bunking Off Writing

I’m always looking for that life-changing piece of writing advice, the one that fixes everything and makes you a best-selling author. I’m constantly reading magazine articles about what my favourite authors have for breakfast, or where they go to write, or how many sips of tea they have before they start writing, etc. I suppose I hope that if I can reenact their routine then my writing will magically be as good as theirs. No amount of bran flakes or sips of tea has worked yet…

Once in a while I find a piece of advice that really strikes a chord with me. It might not make me finish my book and be a best-seller but it’ll keep me going for a few days. This was the quote that did it for me recently:

“Have more than one idea on the go at any one time. If it’s a choice between writing a book and doing nothing I will always choose the latter. It’s only if I have an idea for two books that I choose one rather than the other. I always have to feel that I’m bunking off from something.” – Geoff Dyer

I’ve always felt that if I started working on other projects then I’d never finish my book. However, I took dear Geoff’s advice and reopened a few old projects. Now, instead of feeling like that big essay in High-school is due, I feel like I’m working on one of my many important projects as a busy author. (There’s no harm in playing pretend, especially when you’re writing fiction.) When I get bored of one I move to another, then when that dwindles I pop by some poetry, have a blast at a blog or swing past a script. Before I know it I’ve been writing for an hour or two. Who knew skiving could be so productive!?

Writers Hate Writing

It’s usually when I’m really desperate to write something brilliant that I can’t write anything at all. I’ll have all the time, peace and quiet in the world but no ideas. Yet, I have all the thoughts humanly possible when I’m being casually crushed on my morning commute, just a millimeter out of reach of my phone, unable to leave myself a note. Or, when I’m in a rush somewhere with no time to write anything down. Or, worst of all, when I’m in a perfectly nice spot to write… but I don’t have a pen or paper.

I have a theory that writer’s don’t really want to write. We love coming up with concepts, stories and narratives but dislike the actual writing bit. We dislike it because inevitably our fantastic imaginations are never as good on paper. (Not the first time round, at least.) Or, we might be able to create the perfect first chapter but then it doesn’t go anywhere. Or, there’s no way to actually translate your sweeping, electric, visual fantasies into actual, coherent words. Basically, we dislike writing because it’s the hard bit and thinking is the fun bit!

I remember hearing that J K Rowling came up with the whole idea for Harry Potter on a delayed train with nothing to write her notes down on. But, maybe if Rowling had 7 empty notebooks and a pile of pens she wouldn’t have felt like thinking of it all? Then it may have seemed too much like hard work.

So, what I’m getting at is, without the prospect of actually writing we are full of all sorts of wonderful ideas because there’s no pressure of them actually materialising as (sometimes disapointing) words on a page!
I’ve coined the term ‘Mentascript’ (Mental + Manuscript).
Don’t judge me, it’s the best I could do… I’ve already tried ‘Contemtyping’ (Contemplating + Typing), ‘Tharrative’ (Thought + Narrative) and ‘Internovel’ (Internal + Novel).

I’ve decided I’m going to trick my mind into Mentascripting. I’m not entirely sure how yet… My only idea so far involves going out without a pen, paper, laptop or phone. Then, wandering in a direction where there are no cafe’s, libraries or stationary shops. (I promise I’m not purposely trying to get into dangerous situations here!) And eventually reaching a phone box (if they still exist/work) and leaving myself a long phone message with my wonderful epiphany!

Any other ideas are welcome!