'Do you have writer's block?' - by Alex Marchant
That was what my partner asked me.
‘Do you have writer’s block?’ A couple of weeks ago. After I told him I’d not written a word on my work-in-progress since early May. And before that, not since February.
My instinct was to say, ‘No, of course not.’ And so I did.
But I wondered. Did I?
No. Not at all. When I sat down to write in February, the words flowed. Plenty of them. A virtual torrent. The same in May. On the train back from a family and football weekend (the best kind, I find). Having safely finished the talk I’d set out to write on the train down to London two days before. And that’s the problem. I only really write when I have no distractions (no chores, no Internet, no family concerns, nothing to plan), which tends to be when I’m away from home – on train journeys (what a blessing the quiet carriage is!), on holidays. But even then, only when I don’t have a talk to write, an event to prepare for, when I’m prepared…
‘Distractions’. I guess that’s really short-hand for ‘life’, particularly ‘family life’. So perhaps what I should have said to my partner was ‘No, not writer’s block – just life getting in the way.’ Perhaps he might have taken the hint, and asked what he could do to help.
These past few months – have they been any busier than usual? Perhaps, or perhaps not. Both daughters have been preparing for and sitting major exams – with the occasional emotional melt-down. And then preparing for and setting off on major trips – in one case, her first ‘adult’ holiday (help!), in the other, a six-week placement in south-east Asia for her university course – the first time she’s travelled so far/so long alone. There have been big birthdays, two family weddings, a new rehomed dog (who desperately needs training and had an early medical emergency), book-related events to plan for (that talk to write…), an anthology to put together, blogs to write, the usual round of social media – the last always a distraction, even if it’s a good form of promo.
|The new hound - complete with cone of shame...
Oh, and then there’s the day job – although, by the time the dog’s been walked, the chickens and cat let out/fed/medicated/cleaned up after, the washing done, the kitchen sorted, the cleaning attempted, the finances addressed, emails/tweets/whatever dealt with, it tends to be more the ‘afternoon job’… but it helps pay the bills. But one way or another, there’s never enough time to cram it all in.
I doubt my life is busier than many another, though I have always found delegation difficult, and that, in fits of optimism, I tend to take too much on, and working from home means you can never shut yourself away from that part of life. Work/life balance? What’s that? And ever since my primary work (copyediting) became 100 per cent on-screen rather than working with a red pen on my favoured stack of paper, the internet is always there for fact-checking – and email/social media checking too.
So – again – do I have ‘writer’s block’? I guess my self-diagnosis stands – no, not at all. But I clearly do have a chronic inability to manage my time properly. For which, of course, there are many remedies, set out in numerous articles and blogs. But, seriously, I don’t have time to read any of them. I have a blog to write/medieval festival to prepare for/talk to write/'interview my character blog hop' to rustle up/publicity to do/dog to walk/cat to feed…
So please don’t feel you have to comment with any advice or direct me to some helpful tips – unless it’s to tell me how to get my hands on a genuine Harry Potter ™ Time-Turner. Maybe J.K. Rowling was never really suffering from writer’s block either, just an excess of ‘life’ – and maybe she did find the perfect way to resolve the issue … in fiction at least.
Alex is author of two books telling the story of the real King Richard III for children aged 10+, the first set largely in Yorkshire, and editor of Grant Me the Carving of My Name, an anthology of short fiction inspired by the king, sold in support of Scoliosis Association UK (SAUK). A further anthology, Right Trusty and Well Beloved..., is planned for later this year (which Alex really shouldn't have taken on!)
Alex's books can be found on Amazon at: