Follow the Yellow

Writing + Sloth

I’ve recently been trying to dedicate more time to Doing Proper Writing, but I’ve not had much success so far. I don’t know about anyone else, but I find it incredibly difficult to write on a regular basis when I’m working full time, especially when it’s in combination with a demanding commute (currently involving two tubes and a train). But I do miss writing when I’m not doing it regularly. In an ideal world, I’d like to write something every day, but I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen, because most days, by the time I get home from work I feel pretty much exactly like a sloth.

I am in awe of the amazingly prolific people I come across: the ones who manage to turn out novels alongside busy lives, family obligations and full-time jobs, but I’d love to know their secret.

What are your strategies for motivating yourself to keep writing even in your sloth-like moments?

P.S. Check out my two new book reviews up at Bookmunch: poet Gee Williams’s first novel Salvage, and Aleksander Hemon’s new short story collection Love and Other Obstacles.

[sloth photo via zooillogix]

5 Comments on Writing + Sloth

  1. Adrian Slatcher
    August 2, 2009 at 10:36 am (13 years ago)

    I also work full time, and have for most of my “writing career”. I’ve found that real writing (as opposed to blogging etc.) is almost impossible to fit in, a day at a time. It’s the mental and emotional energy it uses, as much as anything else, even when you work in a different way/field. There are people who say you should write “every day”, but don’t think that’s much help when you’re busy and tired. Perhaps, instead, do something creative every day, including re-reading what you’re read, researching things of interest etc. Personally, even when I’ve had swathes of time, I don’t write every day, but in big chunks, which require a day or two of recovery time! Block out those times if you can, just as if you were training for a marathon (which is what we are doing really!) and don’t worry about the days you don’t write. And sloth’s good actually. There’s too much bad writing in the world. Sloth’s are great conservers of their energies – like writers, they get a bad press!

  2. Benjamin Judge
    August 3, 2009 at 10:09 am (13 years ago)

    A pictorial representation of my brain would probably resemble that photo. So very lazy.

    That is why I started a blog. To force myself into writing. [I am intrigued by Adrian’s idea of ‘real writing’ because I approach my blog with the same motives – to entertain, to surprise, to amuse, to make the reader think – as I do any writing.] It has been a successful experiment because I now write a lot more often than I used to and for the first time in my life think that perhaps I am moving toward a time where I could actually refer to myself as a writer.

    I find it most difficult to make myself turn a sketch to a finished product. The work. I hate the work. Checking grammar or duvet? No contest.

    Adrian is right. Do something creative every day. I always think that it is not writing every day but being a writer every day that is the key. A writer should have ideas lined up like sharks teeth so as each one is used another pops up behind it. That is why I love blogging, because you can just throw out ideas. They don’t sit in a desk drawer or a shoe box. You don’t get time to get precious about them. You have to come up with new work all the time. You have to get better.

    Surely the trick is not how often you write but whether it is worth reading or not. For every Jenn Ashworth there are a thousand people writing novels who should just stick to the day job. What you are writing is (as I believe the kids say) the shizzle. Keep up the good work and don’t worry about the time scale would be my advice.

    Oh, by the way I have borrowed a copy of the The Dark is Rising film off my mother-in-law. She says it is absolute rubbish and that they have murdered the books. She also, and without prompting, made a point of saying how inappropriate the casting of Ian McShane was. I will probably watch it tonight. I’ll let you know what I think. I mention this just as an aside – it doesn’t matter how good you are, how much time you spend on your work, someone is going to decide that your main character would be better being an American and that most of your ideas would be better portrayed through the medium of the car chase.

  3. Jo
    August 3, 2009 at 7:57 pm (13 years ago)

    You have two brilliant replies there – they have made me stop and think. I like the idea of doing something creative every day, I just need to be more disciplined.
    I am having a total Sloth period but then I generally ramble as opposed to ‘write’.

  4. Katherine Woodfine
    August 4, 2009 at 12:05 pm (13 years ago)

    Very interesting responses – thank you all.

    I think there’s definitely something in the idea that you don’t necessarily have to write every day, but that doing something broadly creative is important. I like Ben’s idea of ‘being a writer’ every day, even if you aren’t actually writing. All this is definitely provoking more thoughts on this subject… more to come on this, I think…

    And I’m very glad to hear I’m not the only sloth-a-like out there. Sloths are great. I think there is room for a little bit of sloth in all of us!

    P.S. Ben – yes, do report back – would be most intrigued to hear what you think of the Dark is Rising film and especially the McShane/Merriman Travesty!

  5. Benjamin Judge
    August 4, 2009 at 12:48 pm (13 years ago)

    I am planning to post on my blog about The Dark is Rising. I just need a little bit of time to calm down. Worst. Adaptation. Ever.


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