Being an author isn't the easiest profession. In fact, a writer's mind can deteriorate very quickly. Usually by 9AM. (Earlier if I've stayed up writing until 3AM.)
My partner often sighs in frustration at the fact that he has to repeat things to me. I often fail to hear him because I'm usually thinking about my next chapter / my next deadline / whether a character should behave the way they do in the narrative / whether I should be publishing such a secret and sensitive story in the first place / whether I can finish writing 3 books by the end of November / whether that Paris hotel reimbursed me (and how I should really reconcile those credit card slips) / whether the dogs have had their worming tablets / whether I've bought my niece an 18th birthday present / if I need to take a gift to our friends' house tomorrow / whether we move to New York next year / whether I've called the locksmith and electrician / how I'm going to manoeuvre 30 people around 20 gardens in 8 days.
As you can see, a writer is often quietly
I'm sure there are other jobs that require a person to have a peripatetic mind, but I just can't think of one at the moment. I'm too preoccupied.
There is one thing I will always have time to stop my stream-of-consciousness thoughts for though, and that's encouraging people to write.
I will always – always - try and inspire others to write, even if it's just prodding them to jot down their life story while they're still alive. Everyone has a story in them. Everyone has the ability to write. Most of those stories are wonderful. And most of the writing styles are fine. You don't need to be Hemingway to pen an enthralling memoir. Just start to write. Write as if your life depended on it.
Don't worry about the dog worming, the washing, the household accounting. Just sit down for a few hours and write. Do that every day (and I write between 9PM and 3AM, so I'm proof that there's always time in the day) and you'll have the beginnings of a great book before you know it. I promise you.
Don't even worry about creating a memorable first page. First pages are notoriously difficult. They'll hold you up. They'll make you cry. They'll kill you. They'll put you off writing for life.
Just start writing, and before you know it, you'll be on the 45th page. And that's when you'll realise that the 45th page would actually make a really great first page. (Then you can tweak things; it doesn't take much to flip chapters around.) As all good writers know: the strength of a book is in the editing.
But don't worry about editing yet. The most important thing is just to write.
And to stop worrying if you appear preoccupied.
If you're attempting to finish writing a book this month as part of NaNoWriMo month, here's some literary inspiration of an unconventional nature.
Just remember – all writers struggle. That's part of the profession. But the good ones are tenacious. It's the tenacious ones who get somewhere.
Good luck. I wish you all the best!
Have a lovely, writerly weekend.
(Image at very top: a fantastic painting of words by Liz Collini at the V&A, although I think the comma should be after 'indescribable', not 'paper', don't you?)