This is my April entry for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group.
Supposedly, if a shark stops swimming, it’ll die.
I’m not totally clear on the practicalities of this – does it drown? Does it sink to the bottom of the ocean, to the dark places where weird creatures with luminescent glowy bits live?
But, in cultural terms at least, the shark’s position as a creature that must continue moving or else is second only to it’s position as an evil killer, and devourer of boats that aren’t as big as needed.
Though it can be annoying, I think the same applies to writers.
Writing is a habit, one that needs to be developed into an instinct. The idea of a writer with intense writer’s block is one that’s been done to death in fiction – the writer has six hours before a 50,000 word novel is due in, and is sat in front of a blank Word document.
But just because something’s a cliche doesn’t make it untrue, as much as the desire for freshness may make us wish it does.
In the past month, I’ve written a 4,000 word short story from scratch, set in a supernatural world that I’ve worked out a bit of depth to, and hinted at in the story without being too heavy-handed. (I think so, at least.)
I’ve been writing a weekly column on events in English football’s League One and Two.
I’ve just written an article on the controversial appointment of Paolo di Canio to a high profile managerial position, trying to sort out some slightly messy morality, and find some line of logic through the whole thing.
And I’ve written a few more things, on subjects ranging from English centre backs to The Big Bang Theory, that I hope will go up in various places over the coming days.
All in all, I’ve been slightly busy.
But it’s still not enough.
My instinct, when feeling the buzz of relative achievement, is to sit back, enjoy the glow, relax and enjoy the sense that I’ve just made something that I’m quietly pleased with.
I doubt there’s ever been a great writer who wrote well in one month of their life, then sat back and lived off the glory for the years afterward. The annoying truth is that, after reaching down into ourselves, (or looking out into the world with it’s weirdness and complexity,) we’ve got to do so again.
And again, and again.
It’s a bit of a weird thing to think, after all, I enjoy writing, whether it’s non-fiction, making sense of the world, or fiction, creating a world of my own.
But it can feel kind of exhausting to bend the mind in the necessary ways.
Though I don’t totally agree with it, one of the quotes that keeps coming up as a reward for posting a blog is “I don’t like writing, but I like having written.”
That sense of satisfaction is pretty nice. It can be tempting to sit and enjoy the glow.
In a way, it feels a bit like being an elderly comedian, the type who no longer feels the need to be funny, and can make programmes about their hobbies for ITV.
But if I’m to become a better writer, it’s important that I keep working to develop myself, keep growing.
My ‘achievements’ so far aren’t anywhere near impressive enough to earn me a fame-based pension, but more importantly, I want to be a better writer than I currently am.
I’m not sure what happens to a shark when it stops swimming, but as people, if we stop pushing ourselves, challenging ourselves to develop, our skills regress.
It’s important to keep moving, and vitally, to keep the pen moving across the page.