Monday, 5 March 2012
Just Do It - Guest post by journalist Rin Simpson
People simply don’t understand how much work goes into being a writer, do they? They fail to comprehend the many and varied activities that fill up our diaries. If only they knew what our schedules looked like, right?
First there’s the internet work: emails, Twitter, Facebook. After all, a writer needs to engage with social networking. Next: GoodReads, writers’ forums, endless blog subscriptions on Google Reader. And of course we’ve got our own blogs to update.
We have to go on courses and read writing guides so we can learn how to write better. And attend conferences so we can find out how other people write. And writing groups, so we can get feedback on writing we’ve done and ideas for writing we’d like to do.
But hang on a second. Have you noticed a common theme? While there’s a lot of talk about writing in this list of activities, lots of learning about writing and discussing writing and even writing about writing… are you actually doing any writing?
Are you sitting down and putting words together to make sentences, weaving those sentences into paragraphs, stitching paragraphs into chapters and chapters into the novel you’ve been meaning to write for the last decade?
Whether it’s due to fear, laziness, insecurity or a combination thereof, most creative writers are much better at procrastination than practise. I include myself. It’s fear that drives my inactivity – fear I’m no good, that the last decent piece I wrote was a fluke, that if I do sit down and start writing, I’ll produce nothing but drivel and it will feel horrible.
And so I have often avoided writing. I have buried myself in writerly things, waiting for “inspiration to strike” i.e. for the fear to dissipate. Until a few months ago. That’s when I realised I needed discipline, something to make me sit down and write, regardless of the fear.
I knew I wasn’t the only one. I had spoken to plenty of other writers who felt the same. An idea was forming. How about if we disciplined ourselves collectively, gathering together to write for one evening every week?
And so The Steady Table writers’ group was born. A place where there would be no feedback or critiquing, no writing exercises or tuition, simply a dedicated time and space where writers could get down to the business of writing, in the comforting presence of others doing exactly the same thing.
If you’re based in or near Bristol, we’d love for you to join us – we’re very nice, honest, and there’s no cost (although you may want to bring money for cake). All you need is a laptop or a notebook and pen, and a project you’d like to work on.
But I’m not here to drum up members. I want to encourage you to find the discipline you need to write. If you know there’s more in you than you’re producing at the moment, get together with a writerly friend and commit to meeting each week, solely in order to write. Don’t think about it, don’t talk about it, just do it!
• Rin Simpson is a freelance journalist, teacher and creative writer. Her short story In Her Shoes was published in Honno’s anthology Cut On The Bias, and she is currently working on a collection of her own. You can follow her on Twitter @RinSimpson or on GoodReads.
• The Steady Table meet weekly between 6pm and 9pm in the café area at Bristol Folk House (http://www.bristolfolkhouse.co.uk/). You can follow the group on Twitter @TheSteadyTable or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.