A Gentle Writing Tip

I love my readers for many reasons (not least that they indulge my bizarre imagination), but one of my favourites is the questions they ask.

I receive a range - lots about my literary friends (or characters, if you want to be ruthless), and the plots and settings of the tvdetective books, but also about many other areas of writing.

I haven't answered a question in a while, so I thought now would be a good time, particularly as it's a musing well worth sharing with all aspiring authors out there.

(And I know, from the feedback I get, that there are many thousands.)

The question was this - how can you find the strength / commitment / energy / creativity to write for hours each day, and day in day out?

The simple answer is that I don't believe you can - or at least, not to a standard good enough to be worthwhile.

I have a strategy, developed over the years, which helps me enormously and which I'd thoroughly recommend.

Swa cathedral.jpg

No, it's nothing religious (this is Exeter Cathedral), but in a word is this - variety.

I included this picture because I've come to realise I work best in bursts, and can quickly grow less productive if I just try to slog away. So I vary my working day, and one of my favourite ways to refresh myself is a stroll to the cathedral.

An hour away from the notebook, or computer, letting my mind relax and unwind, and I find I come back far more able to write again.

Swans on Exe.jpg

Here's another example of a favourite distraction - a stroll around the beautiful River Exe.

I've come to believe that just writing away for hours on end can seem productive - yes, you watch the word count rise - but then when you come back to it... 

Shall we just say that so much re-writing is required you wonder whether it was worthwhile?


I suppose it's like so much in life - variety gives us a lift. Why should it be any different with writing?

The problem, of course, is convincing yourself that you can be more productive by taking decent breaks... and also being disciplined enough to come back to you desk.

I find that a particular problem if I have a "break" in one of my favourite places in the world, one I share a love of with my two leading men, and where generations of writers have found many an inspiration over the years.