If you are a writer of my disposition you tend to grasp any opportunity for self–sabotage and distraction. So here’s my shabby, rapidly declining two bob’s worth.
The process to me is generally an ideal I am working towards or aspiring to, like drinking less or going to the gym more. Whenever I pompously declare ‘I’m at my desk every morning by 7 a.m.’ a cynical voice in my head screams ‘You wish!’ But the good news is that it’s easier to stop a teenager from masturbating than a real writer from writing.
The ideal I aspire to is rising at 6 a.m., having a light breakfast, being at my desk till 10.30, and hammering out words, lots and lots of them, with an utter disregard for quality or structure, while music blares in the background. Then I’ll pack up and go to the boxing club for a workout — either a circuit, sparring on the pads, or some weights and cardio. This takes you away from the writing and, paradoxically, forgetting about it for a while allows the subconscious to do the heavy lifting.
Spending a lot of time obsessing about something the rest of the world has no connection with or window into is probably not a recipe for healthy relationships. I’ve learned a lot of de-roling techniques from actors; they have helped me considerably in reorienting myself back into the real world. But even they don’t work when you are in that crazy place — the home straight, where you just have to batter those keys until you break the book or it breaks you. That’s when your music goes off, your partner heads to her sister’s and your cat loses weight.
Is it worth it? Well that’s a question you can’t even consider if you’re a real writer, because it’s just what you do and you are not going to stop until you drop.
Irvine Welsh’s The Blade Artist is out now. To read other authors share the ways in which they go about their work, click here to read the full article from this week’s Spectator
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