Words is my life.

Its official, I’ve even got the t-shirt to prove it thanks to Rachel.

I love reading them, I enjoy writing them even more.

Blogs are brilliant as I get exposed to so many words, ideas, styles, prejudices and plenty of inspiration whenever I want it. Best of all, these words are pinging at me from far and wide, I don’t have to do too much time-consuming searching and I’m not just confined to what’s happening close to my own doorstep.

I write every day – either here, other blogs, as a freelance journalist or in a consultancy role for various clients.

 

And yet I often feel frustrated at my failure to write for “fun”. Why?

I’m enjoying all this other stuff. The difference is that the “fun” refers to the other stuff that continues to reside in my head and which doesn’t get typed onto the screen of my laptop.

Two years ago, when I went self-employed, I spent a few days sat in the garden with my wife and cat alongside me and actually got a fair few thousand of these words transferred from my head onto the screen.

And two years on, they’re still sat there in the folder I created for them not doing anything. I’ve returned to the folder, often, and at the end of last year when we headed over to North Norfolk for a week of relaxation I even managed to add a few more words and finesse the stuff I’d already written.

But over 6 months on from that week of revisiting the folder, it has reverted back to being the great untouched.

I’ve been wondering whether the reason for my failure to write for fun is knowing that these days I’m the sole bread winner.

Since Rachel was forced to give up work I’ve felt the need to justify everything I do, every word I write needs to have a monetary value attached to it otherwise I’m simply wasting my time – aren’t I?

But that can’t be right as the majority of blogging I do is purely personal and definitely unpaid. Besides, my failure has nothing to do with Rachel or her illness.

So what is holding me back?

Fear of failure, perhaps, or just a lack of self-confidence?

Whatever the reason, I included “writing for fun” on my 40 list purely as a kick up the arse to myself and it is about time I did something about it. I don’t want to force it, but I do need to get restarted and galvanised.

Rachel is (as always) inspiring me – despite her on-going health problems her talent is shining through and earning dosh (not quite enough for me to be a kept man, but every journey starts with a single step). At the rate she is going, she is also likely to have a book published way before I’ve finished drafting what’s in my head.

A friend – already a published author – recently suggested trying a bit of collaboration (I haven’t forgotten Nick) and maybe that will help inspire too.

I have to admit, watching TV over the last few months has also proved inspirational.

Not so much in a “I can do so much better than that” kind of way, but further confirmation that the difference between success and failure tends to come down to the writing.

In this digital age, the written word is still very powerful.

Witness the last stuttering series of Dr Who, where the writing standards seemed to slip badly.

Equally, it is clear to see that the second series of Heroes was completed during the writers’ strike in the USA as it completely lost its way and ended up a horrible mess.

This week we’ve seen two hideous examples from the BBC – I’ve already explained where I stand on Bonekickers, whilst the new comedy series Lab Rats lurched from a few sublime moments (the diminutive assistant from Erdington had all the best lines), to a general air of sixth-form revue and consisted of far too much out-and-out drivel.

My TV screen is full of wasted opportunities. Great ideas ruined by poor writing.

And yet for every Bonekickers there is a Criminal Justice. So there is inspiration of the more positive kind to be found.

But these days, most of my inspiration comes in the blogosphere and the fact so many talented writers (or even really bad writers with interesting opinions) have an outlet.

Words is my life.

Writing is fun.

So get on with it.

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7 responses »

  1. le craic says:

    Maybe just set aside a little time every day (1/2 hour) where you take a pen and paper, move away from your normal work environment and then do some writing that way. Might be a bike ride away to the park or something. anything to physically distance yourself from the word factory!

  2. Linda says:

    Oh, I can identify with so much of what you say here – I set myself the wholly unealistic target of writing a short story a month…two years ago. Now I have erm, three and one for children. Iget them out now and again to tinker with them. (And the short stories…)
    I just don’t think I’m capable of writing for ‘fun’ anymore – not when there’s another feature to pitch, a non fiction synopsis or blog post to write, training brief or press release on the list. But even my idea of what the ‘fun’ is is skewed – those short stories? I want them published dammit! I want them to become a novel, I want to…earn some money from them, else what’s the point? That’s a pretty sad attitude isn’t it? But hell having built up a ‘writing business’ – what else can I do? It’s learned behaviour.

  3. Paul Groves says:

    AJ: Took your advice, kind of. Went out for the afternoon with rachelcreative, taking photos. No writing, but it leads nicely to…
    Linda: There is an element of me thinking I just need to get over myself. But I know I’ve got stuck into a routine as regards juggling my paid-for work and caring for Rachel and the thing to get squeezed is the “fun” writing. Although, as Rachel told me this morning, there are times when she wants to shout at me: “Stop caring for me and start writing!” 😉

    The upshot is, handily, my motto for life in general – just do it.

    Thanks both.

  4. catchthevision says:

    Thanks for this, which I found stimulating and thought provoking.

    I’ve tried to make my weekly blogs alternate between serious topics and rather more light-hearted stuff. Last week’s was about trying to understand why America is so VERY independent (it being 4 July at the time). The blog before that was discussing ‘Where DOES humour come from?’

    My current blog looks at the use of cliches in Business Communication, in a blog called “Let’s CHANGE ‘Management Speak’!” which gives others a chance to come up with some new descriptions that use words that suit them. I wonder what you think?

    Certainly I’m finding the alternating in type of content very liberating, as well as helping to meet diverse needs which my brain seems to have.

    Keep up the good work!

    Url: http://catchthevision.wordpress.com

  5. Ursula says:

    Paul, I agree with AJ. Change the tools, ie pen and paper, location and time of day. For any unselfconscious writing I recommend the early morning (before you have so much as set foot out of bed, had your first cup of tea or fed the cat; though do have a bottle of water on your bedside table).

    Also, don’t see writing, outside given assignments, as an indulgence; it’s a necessity; don’t feel that every waking minute and what you do with it has to have a purpose: Sometimes we just need to do things, including writing, for the joy of it even if the result is negligible. I also believe that if we engage in what you call “fun” writing with an eye to publication it won’t work. I write tons of stuff (longhand), rarely reread it and consign most of it to the bin without so much as a backward glance. Think in Rachel’s medium’s terms: How many photographs does she take before she will decide on the one worth keeping?

    Reading between your lines I think you will need to focus and decide what you are actually trying to achieve with your private writing; then the rest will fall into place.

    It’s an intriguing subject you raised; and maybe, like AJ indicated in his own blog, sometimes we need to take time out to reconnect.

    U

  6. Me too! I love words too… And understand what you mean about “writing for fun”… I’ve just gotten into blogging and I love how there is the possiblity to mix up light hearted videos, recipes, clips with more thought provoking articles. Only problem is it can be easy to be complacent or nervous (?) and lately have been building up a collection of serious “To write” ideas in the Drafts section and post fillers in the meantime! I’m considering scrapping the light hearted stuff and sticking with a more journalistic edge but I suppose what attracted me to blogging in the first place was the diversity (and accessibility).

  7. Paul Groves says:

    pomegranate: Variety is the spice of life. The beauty of blogging for me is that it mirrors the last full-time newspaper job I had, where I could write on just about any subject I wanted – serious or light-hearted.
    There is also the fact that you can mix and match posts to suit your mood.
    Hopefully your readers will enjoy the mix too!

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