Monday, August 17, 2015

Things I Have Learned About Writing This Summer

A photo posted by Ellen Brickley (@brickleyelle) on

Dublin smells of back-to-school today.

I hated school, but there was always something about August and September. Mostly it was the stationery shopping, and the new books, and the joy of reading the interesting bits of my new books without having to endure the boring parts.

I've been out of education for nine years, but still I celebrate two New Years. One is a night and a day when the calendar changes, and one is a season, when something else does.

We've had a wet, cold, miserable summer in Dublin this year, which I have enjoyed because I am a big freak who hates nice things. This week has had some bright and sunny days and that's my sunshine needs for the year largely met. I'm ready for autumn, for crisp air and crisp leaves, hot drinks and opaque tights, and for new things.

And this summer, I learned some things about writing.

1. Your tribe is vital.

I've spent a lot of time with writers this summer and I believe more than ever that the people you surround yourself with have a massive impact on your reality. Find other writers, in person if you can, online if you can't.

It doesn't feel like an impossible dream when there are lots of you working towards it, cheered on by people who've already gotten where you want to go.

I have been bowled over by the kindness of more experienced and successful writers, and by how supportive they are of those of us still working towards publication. I've been stunned by how much I've connected with people over nothing more than the fact we all take dictation from the voices in our heads. Writing isn't a perfect community but there are some great people out there, and finding them helps so much.

2. Every second counts.

Read this. And this. And this. Catherine is smart. Then go and write and edit things!

3. There will always be an obstacle.

If you want to avoid writing, if you're scared of failing or succeeding, there will always be a reason not to do it - and that's one of the things a tribe helps with. Writer friends can say 'Oh, of course you couldn't write last weekend - that thing you were doing was legitimately very important!' and they can also say 'Really, Ellen? Four loads of laundry in two days for two people? Baking Rolo treats? Experimenting with continental knitting? You needed to do all of that rather than fix Chapter Six?'

4. Rolo treats are tasty.