Just Another Phase…

We’ve been busy decorating daughter’s bedroom recently. It seems to me that the life of a child is played out in phases, in her case characterized by the décor of her room. When she was young it was a Winnie the Pooh room. When old enough to express a preference we moved into a pink Disney Princess theme. Several years on, she was fascinated by the ocean, so we switched to blue and accessorised with all things under the sea. Now that she is a teenager we have moved on again and I’m sure that her purple walls will soon be covered with posters from her beloved Kerrang magazine.

As I stroked the brush across the walls, it struck me that navigating the creative world of writing feels quite similar in many ways. When I discovered fiction writing, all those years ago, I started with a few short stories. Then I dipped my toe in the water and decided to write a novel which eventually became An Unfamiliar Murder. I had a bit of a paddle with The Truth Will Out, still unsure of whether it would actually work. With my latest, I plunged myself right in at the deep end and immersed myself in it. However, since starting my fourth, I feel I’ve lost my way a little.

I think this is largely due to the ‘lifestyle phase’. Work and family commitments have been such recently that I haven’t had much time to think about my writing. For me, so much of the story, the character development and the plotlines, are churned over time and time again in my head before anything ever reaches the page. I have copious notebooks with bits scribbled in that I may or may not use at some stage. But unless I have time to develop those ideas, they will never reach the page.

I should be frustrated, yet I don’t really feel that way. I’ve had a great summer in the sunshine, spent time with my daughter, enjoyed a family holiday, done jobs around the house and caught up with work. So I guess I’m also in a different phase of my writing life, when perhaps I just need to sit back and let life wash over me for a while. I’m sure sooner or later there’ll be a gap that a character or a storyline can pop into for consideration. I certainly hope so.

Do you experience different phases in your writing life? How do you manage the demands of a busy lifestyle with your work? I’d love to hear your views.

10 thoughts on “Just Another Phase…”

  1. Great post, Jane. Love the analogy of writing and life-stages. Nice to know it’s normal for the writing of each book to be so different. I’ve found that already! Think I went the opposite was to you though. Dived in with the first – total obsession. Could barely drag myself away from it to cook or have a real-life conversation. With the second, I’d calmed down a bit and, with a house move and all sorts of other upheaval going on, writing had to be snatched here and there. With this third one, I spend far too much time procrastinating, almost as if I’m avoiding my manuscript, am afraid of it even. My excuse is that now the children have left home or are away at uni, any time they’re home is precious. Writing has to fit in with that. Do think time spent with family has to come first, but the longer my idleness goes on, the harder it is to open that document and start typing. Aaarghh!

    • It’s funny how we all approach things differently, Karen. I think with my first, I never realised whether I could achieve a full novel and now that I know I can – it just seems like such a huge undertaking. And of course, life keeps getting in the way! I wish you all the very best with your third and hope you find the time to storm through it soon. Thanks for stopping by. Jx

  2. Hi Jane – I know exactly how you feel, having struggled a little to reach the half way point with my work-in-progress. I find it helps to remember that a page a day is a book a year. It’s still a result if you only write a couple of hundred words – then spend a bit of time living your life!

    • Hi Tony, Thanks very much for taking the time to comment. I hadn’t really thought of the page a day/book a year idea, but I like it and it certainly makes me feel better about my current situation. Thanks again, Jx

  3. Do you know Jane, I think if you have busy life demands you should do as you thought and let life wash over you and see what happens. I do think the story keeps talking to you and the characters keep nagging and as they do you can write in your notebooks as and when something important pops up and then one day you’ll just feel it and there’ll be no stopping you sitting down to type it all out.
    Me at the minute? I’m writing one, but have three full novels just vying for attention and waiting to get out, I just don’t have the energy for speed 🙂

  4. That’s such an interesting post, Jane. Thank you so much. I remember coming to one of your signings for ‘The Truth Will Out’ and you were very generous with your time. As you shared your experiences with me I was very struck by the importance of Helen Lavery in your writing and life. She was there at the table with you, sitting beside you, and I could feel her presence in our conversation. Maybe you haven’t lost your way at all? Maybe you’re simply missing her? Maybe your authorial intuition recognises this? Maybe she’s ready to solve some more cases?

    • Thanks Marcus, for your kind words. That’s a really interesting thought. Maybe you’re right… I do hope the book sales are going well and that you are working on a new piece. Thanks so much for stopping by. J

  5. Great post, Jane and it’s something I’ve suffered from too, on and off but after my terrible (two year long) block, I’ve learned not to worry. Like you say, you’ve had a great summer and all those days have dropped little nuggets into your subconscious that will work their way out into all the stories you will come to write.

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