I recall reading a rumour that Dan Brown’s wife would wake him up every day and he would write 1,000 words before having breakfast. Now, whether this is true or not, I have no idea. But I admire the discipline immensely. I have been pulling myself out of bed earlier than normal recently to try and squeeze in a little creative time each day around all the hustle and bustle of my job and home life. Whether I’m still tired or not, I find my body clock has adjusted so it wakes me around the same time every day, even at the weekend. At the weekend, I am mostly fancy free, so I can pull the duvet back over my head and return to slumber guilt free. The weekdays however are an entirely different story.
So this morning is Monday. I opened my eyes and it is still dark outside. I don’t tease myself with the possibility that it might in fact be 3am or 4am, meaning I still have a couple of hours before having to get up. This is very unlikely. I have told myself I am not allowed to check the alarm clock these days, as I am trying to enforce some discipline regarding not switching my mind on until it’s time to get out of bed. No such luck with that this morning. I tried to get comfortable again but my mind was already buzzing-what’s on your to do list at work today? When are you going to ring the GP? When are you going to order the food shopping? When are you going to write the next blog? What’s it going to be about? What are you hoping to achieve this week? Remember to start leaving your mobile on, your sister is due to have her baby any day now. Before I know it, my eyes are wide open in the darkness. Now, this level of organised (wait, can I really call this organised?) is great. I am somewhat motivated and ready to go. However, the thing about discipline in most aspects of life, creatively or otherwise, is control. And this morning I don’t believe I had control, thoughts were just spilling out.
I’m not allowing myself to be too rattled by this, but I think practising some mindfulness might help with this going forward, as I don’t particularly want to start each day thinking about the entire week, how I’m already late for work and way behind on my new novel. Personally and creatively, I don’t think this will help. For those not familiar with mindfulness, check out Smiling Mind (http://smilingmind.com.au/) which offers free mindfulness advice and even has Android and IPhone apps.
I do have in fact a mini victory to celebrate this morning, and that is I opened what I have written of my first chapter of Wendy’s House and read it.The quote above is the first line. I have been putting this off; although I enjoyed writing it, I have been consumed by the fear that it was going to sound dull, or far too much like Latest Mistake. However, I was quite pleased with it and even jotted down some notes on what’s to come next in the chapter. First chapters are hard as you have to establish so much in such a short window and make it sound enticing. Who are your characters? Where do they live? What do they do for a living? What colour are their eyes? The list is endless and the challenge all too real.
I have always quite liked the opening of Duma Key by Stephen King:
“My name is Edgar Freemantle. I used to be a big deal in the building and construction business. This was in Minnesota, in my other life. I learned that my-other-life-thing from Wireman. I want to tell you about Wireman, but first let’s get through the Minnesota part.”
I am a huge Stephen King fan (my father once told me I had read more books by Stephen King alone than he has read books his whole life) and this short paragraph alone was enough to suck me in. Why is Edgar no longer big in the building and construction business? Who is Wireman? What connotation does ‘my other life’ have? The excitement and the interest is perfect and it is hard to get right. But I believe I’ve turned a corner today. I acknowledge that my first chapter needs work (it’s not even complete yet!) but I found that reading my words caused a spark in me-I dare say, I feel a bit inspired. I’m now excited about my characters, and about the plot (of which I know nothing about-I’ll discuss my method in the next blog!) and about starting again. I realised I could trust myself to write something that was not bad (at least in my mind!) and even if it was bad, I was calm enough to deal with it. It was the positive, reassuring feeling I needed, and I breathed it in this morning. And all before 7:15am.
Quote from Duma Key by Stephen King, taken from my personal copy, published by Hodder in 2008.