A typical writing day – for me

I can’t pretend to have had this idea first, as the great Wendy Jones posted hers earlier today on her site, but I thought I would share an entry of a writing competition – that I didn’t win. It was earlier in the year, when my son wasn’t in full-time school, so it gives more of an insight into that juggling act. Since October there has still been a massive juggling act – it’s just taken a slightly different form!

Anyway, both Wendy and I submitted entries for the Association of Christian Writers’ (ACW) writing competition A Day in the Life of a Writer. Here’s what I sent in, which I think sums up the pressure and panic I can sometimes experience as a writer:

I wake up early, with that pit in my stomach that always happens on writing days. I chew over what I need to get done before the kids get up, and then it is a mad rush to get them off to school. On my return the panic sets in; I always have the overriding sense that I can’t do it – I simply can’t put the words down. The empty page on the screen seems to taunt me until I pray and then force myself to get going. Then I allow the words just to flow; I wait until later to go back and read them. The editing process is a lot easier as I am an editor by trade. Although of course it is harder to change your own work than someone else’s…

Time is a huge constraint. My youngest is at nursery so my most productive hours HAVE to be the few I have free each morning. Sometimes that’s an enormous pressure; at other times it simply forces me to get over my feelings of inadequacy and get on. But not today…today has been particularly hard, and the morning wasted. Because earlier in the week I was approached by a new magazine. I had been recommended to them and they wanted me to write some articles by the end of the week. I had sent the requested examples of work and then waited…and waited. Then today the ‘ping’ of my email informed me a new message was in. And there, staring me in the face, was a rejection. It was beautifully put, full of praise for my writing, but I was, nevertheless, on reflection, ‘not quite right for their publication’. Oh how that stung! More so because I had been approached by them. To me that meant my writing must be even more unlovely for it to change their minds about me!

On days like today the writers’ forums, such as the ACW Facebook page, are invaluable. I posted how I was feeling and the enormous response I got – full of sympathy, empathy but also great wisdom – helped me to determine within myself to get up and get back to work. After all there was only one hour left before I had to do the next school run – and I do have a book to write! Thinking of all the positives, of how I have books, articles, bible study guides all lined up to write for the rest of the year, makes me so grateful and yet…that sting is still there. Okay it has lessened, but now it is a quiet, slow-burning background pang that is still tingeing my day with sadness. I am full of resolve; to make the writing I am doing the best it can be and to rejoice in everything I do have. And yet that uncertainty, that lack of belief in myself, is hovering, waiting to pounce if I give it the chance…

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5 thoughts on “A typical writing day – for me

  1. scskillman says:

    How I identify with this, Claire! When people succeed in this world, then others immediately discount the possibility that they could ever have suffered from uncertainty and lack of self-belief. This always strikes me as a huge irony – the lack of insight human beings seem to have into their own hearts, and thus the hearts of others. Thank you for writing this – you expressed it perfectly.

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