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The realities of slow authorship

melting_clock_lifestyle_1000Everyone has a book in them and anyone can churn that book out, what differs from individual to individual are the limits that stand between them and that finished manuscript. For me that limiting factor is time, I work near-on full-time and, because my wife and I work opposing shifts, I also spend a considerable portion of my week as a SAHD (stay at home dad). Time is my nemesis.

My writing gets jammed in wherever I can fit it and I feel the constant awareness that I should be writing more. I rush to get the kids to bed, clean away supper dishes, and generally get the house in order with enough time spare before my wife gets home from work. During my days off there are things in the house that need fixed, groceries to buy, meals to cook and things to take the kids to and pick them up from. I am on a constant quest for some alone time in front of my computer.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. Though the individual details may differ I imagine that the demands of normal, every-day life will be one of the most tenacious challenges for most authors and would-be authors. However I’ve spoken to many other writers who suffer from a very different problem; the dreaded writer’s-block. This is a problem that I haven’t had in literally years, and I wonder if time and inspiration are linked.

Perhaps there’s something akin to the expression ‘absence makes the heart grow stronger’ that goes on with writing. I simply don’t have time to fall out with my muse: when I find the opportunity to write I grab her with both hands and the rest takes care of itself. Maybe it’s got more to do with the old adage that if you want something done ask someone who’s busy.

The sad fact might simply be that the blocked among us have too much time to avoid the pitfalls of procrastination and getting stuck in their own heads. Whilst those of us with too little time end up with so much creativity bottled up that when the time comes to write they never feel they’ve done enough, or that it’s been drafted enough to be any good.

Somewhere out there there must be authors who have by some means found themselves in the perfect middle, with just enough time to write but not so much that they get distracted. In the mean time the rest of us just have to envy one another’s glut of either time or inspiration.

My own approach seems to be working fairly well (if unnervingly slowly), I’ve already got a completed book under my belt (you can check it out here), my next book is almost past it’s first third in completed form, and I have two others with a few completed chapters and full book plans. These facts fill me with hope but I can’t help but be a realist about time constraints: this next book is taking a while (a long while). I promised myself back when I turned thirty that by forty I’ll have written ten books and have recorded an album, but with each twenty-minute writing session that counts as my entire authorship of the day, I feel that goal slip ever further. My only choice is to keep pushing and keep my fingers crossed, on top of that maybe I have to learn to make writing more of a priority in my day.

What’s been your experience of trying to write? Do you lack time or inspiration? What tricks have you picked up to get over these obstacles? Let me know in the comments below and as always thanks for reading. By the way, you can also follow me on twitter by following this link, all the best, John

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Finally completed something

Eudaimonia and disability Aristotle and human capacitiesOK it’s not what I expected to be popping up for my first kindle publication but here it is ‘How to Live The Good Life in a Modern World’. I’m not even sure if I can count a non-fiction book as the same sort of thing as what I’ve been talking about so far on this blog. As you may or may not know my background is in Philosophy so I went for the old adage and ‘wrote what I know’. I have to say even though it’s a completely different kind of animal than what I thought of when I started this blog completing it has definitely spurred me on to write more. Last year I completes my MPhil thesis and I thought that my writing habits would instantly translate into time spent writing fiction but I was wrong.

With the deadlines gone and the ‘honest’ reason for time spent away from other things it wasn’t as easy to set aside the needed hours each weak to get my work done. That’s probably the key word that changed things and got my book written: ‘work’. Until I started writing this one I didn’t think of writing as ‘work’, I thought of it as ‘writing’, it currently doesn’t pay and it does feel like a hobby so I kind of treated it like that. Things changed when I decided to write this book up and I started to set time aside for ‘work’. Loads of people do unpaid work every day from volunteers to interns so i decided to class this as a writing ‘internship’ where I’m my own boss and it seems to have worked. Now that this book is done I’ve even started delving back into writing fiction again. (Excerpts from chapters are to follow).

OK so for those of you who might be interested here’s a brief description of what my book is about. First off, it isn’t a mammoth read, I tried to keep things as neat and concise as I could. It would work as either an introduction to philosophy (it looks at both ancient and very modern positions in philosophy, providing people with a breadth of philosophical history) or as a more specific guide to the idea of what counts as a ‘good life’.

It doesn’t address every important philosophical question ever posed, but it does cover one or two of the ‘big questions’ as it takes the reader through it’s main topic. The book is about what it is to have a good life, and what kind of activities we might have to participate in in order to achieve this. When I started writing this book I wanted to make sure that the vast array of human capacities and capabilities are at least acknowledged, if not addressed head on. Because of this topics including the nature of mental disability and how it impacts on notions of merit and blame grew to become a steady thread throughout the book.

I like to think that it addresses these issues in the lightest possible manner whilst taking them seriously but I’ll leave it up to readers to decide. It’s available (in English only) in the UK, the USA, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Japan, India, Canada and Brazil. If you choose to get yourself a copy (or even just read a sample) I hope you enjoy it and I hope you take the time to tell me what you think.

So my final little bit of advice about getting a book written is to stop ‘writing’ and start ‘working’. Hope that helps you, thanks for reading, Cheers, John

 
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Posted by on 22 August, 2013 in Philosophy

 

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