Writing and I have a volatile relationship. I think about breaking up with writing at least once a week but somehow I can’t let go. One day we’ll be curled up on the sofa making plans for our future together and the next, writing looks past me at the telly even though I’m dancing around in my knickers doing my best Beyoncé meets Brontë impression.
Call me a fool but I just can’t leave, so here are six ways I put the spark back into my own writing relationship. They stop me weeping into my laptop keyboard whenever I think we might not make it. Perhaps they’ll work for you too.
1) Make time for each other. Our lives are so busy that it’s easy to neglect writing. Work, family, hobbies and slobbing out in front of the telly in a onesie with a family size pack of kettle chips all take up precious time. Before you know it another week has gone by and the only writing you have to show for the past seven days is a passive-aggressive note in the office kitchen asking people to please empty the dishwasher before filling it with dirty mugs you wouldn’t do it at home you slobs. Or a happy birthday message to a Facebook buddy from school you wouldn’t recognise if they stood outside your window singing, ‘you’ve got a friend in me.’
Why not try: a new position, a different time or another room and make time just for you and your pencil? Hell, why not explore writing in the great outdoors of the spirit moves you.
2) It’s important to take time apart too. Having hobbies and experiences away from writing will help you feel closer when you’re together. You may not find your next blockbuster at choir practice or a Booker winning novel in Lithuanian for Beginners but then again, you just might. And at worst you’ll pick up new ideas, snippets of dialogue or new friends to whinge at when you feel rejected. Again.
Why not try: time away from the computer or kill two birds with one stone by joining a writing group, there are loads on Meet-Up. My first comedy script was inspired by my experiences in finding a writing group.
3) Share your fantasies together. Find somewhere cosy, pour a glass of chilled vino and let your inhibitions go. Don’t be shy. If it’s too embarrassing to say it out loud then jot your dreams down in a notebook or better still, on a planner. Is there something you’ve always fantasised of trying together? Maybe you dream of developing an idea into a screenplay or a creating a short story. Have fun, try something new and if you enjoy it, try it some more and get better at it. If it doesn’t work out, go back to your old routine safe in the knowledge that you gave it your best shot. As long as it’s safe and won’t bother any branch of the emergency services give it a go and don’t forget to have fun.
Why not try: writing your aims on a monthly planner. Yes, it a bit like school homework but it helps with focus.
4) Work at that relationship and make it better. Think you’re the only one dealing with feelings of exasperation? Refresh and re-energise by reading more or analysing your favourite screenplays. Listen to a podcast, read a blog or check social media for ideas. If I’m stuck in a rut or feeling down I find that learning about what other (more successful?) people are doing to keep their writing relationships fresh inspires me to try harder. Chat things over with a friend from Lithuanian for Beginners or that person on Facebook who claims you went to school together and then saddle up and jump back on the writing horse.
Why not try: thinking of writing as a reward once you’ve completed a boring chore like bathing the kids, paying your tax or listening to Matthew McConaughy’s Best Actor acceptance speech.
5) Put the fun back in your relationship. If you and writing feel like a chore then take time to enjoy each other’s company again. Write a fun blog piece (ta dah!) or a take some exercise together by holding a word race with a fellow writer- you don’t need to be in the same room, town or even the same country. Simply pick a start and stop time and start writing. No editing, correcting or playing games involving fruit, candy or strange flapping birds. At the end of the time post your word number and feel impressed at how much crap you’ve written. There might even be a little nugget of writing gold in there somewhere.
Why not try: writing exercises. These can be really cheesy but like a visit to the gym or getting your twerk on in a Zumba class, you might feel better afterwards. Not to mention a little bit smug.
6) And finally, celebrate how far you’ve come together. Perhaps you’ll never be the Posh and Becks of the screenplay world but if you and writing have created something together then you’re ahead of the majority who plan to write something one day when the muse strikes. And that’s worth staying together for, don’t you think?
Why not try: jotting down everything you’ve achieved in the last year. If you can’t remember then make a note in your diary (real or electronic) and read them back in low moments. Then grab a glass of something fizzy. Here’s to you and writing and your future relationship!
BIO: Siân Rowland is a freelance education consultant and writer from London. When not training teachers in sex and drug education she can be found writing award-winning lesson plans for large companies. Although she’s been writing for as long as she can remember she only wrote her first comedy script last summer. ‘Scribblers’ was longlisted in the Funny Women writing awards and was also performed on stage at Wimbledon Theatre Studios.he is a Funny Women ‘One to watch’. Siân blogs about freelance life at Rocking in the Freelance World. You can follow her on Twitter @sian_rowland