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Can’t write, won’t write

January 29, 2011

by  Miriam Halahmy

Is there ever a real excuse for not writing? I’ve heard so many over the years but I do believe that if you have the writing bug you will find the time. I wrote my first novel, Secret Territory (Citron Press, 1999) on the kitchen table after the kids had gone to bed. It took me three years but then, I was also working out how to write a novel. There were no M.A. courses in Creative Writing to help me on my way when I was writing the book in the late 80s, early 90s. It took a while to get it published too.

But as we all know there are so many pressures on modern time – kids, commuting, work, social networking, writing blogs – and yes, I’m writing this blog instead of getting on with the WIP. So what are my tips for getting over those times when there just isn’t acres of space to write?


  1. Carry a notebook.   There are loads of times – standing at the bus stop, grabbing a quick coffee in McDs – when you could whip out a little notebook and write a scene, describe a character, colour in the background. Those little snippets will keep your imagination oiled for the longer times of writing.
  2. The half and hour rule.  You know how rubbish you feel when you haven’t written for days and days because you can’t find a solid two hour slot. My answer? Make yourself sit down for half an hour and write every day. I promise you there will be a huge feeling of relief and this will keep you in the positive writing mood for those longer stretches when you can win them back.
  3. Bum on seat.  Lots of people start to drift away from their writing when they hit a snag. I used to be the same. But now I absolutely refuse to leave a piece of writing until I have overcome a problem. I literally glue myself to the seat. It’s the only way, otherwise you dread picking it up the next day, knowing that mountain still has to be climbed.

HAPPY READING/HAPPY WRITING – you know it makes sense!

One Comment leave one →
  1. childrensauthor permalink
    January 29, 2011 6:13 pm

    When I’m really stuck, I follow Evelyn Waugh’s dictum. Apparently, he said, ‘I always try to write a line and a half a day.’ Of course, it’s quite impossible just to write a line and a half. By the time you’ve finished the sentence it’s already more than that and, if you’re lucky, you’ve completed the paragraph and are over the hump.

    Elizabeth Hawksley

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