How the BBC got Little Women so wrong…

What it must have been like in the writing room for the BBC’s three-part drama of Little Women; trying to decide which scenes were imperative and which expendable so they could fit it into a three hour production. As such, I could forgive them some of the missing details. It’s understandable why the Pickwick Papers didn’t make it into the filming schedule – after all, when I last read Louise May Alcott’s classic novel, I admit I skipped that chapter myself. So this review is not focused on the inconsequential scenes not present in the adaptation; my review is much, much more on the essential ones they missed out.

BBC Little Women

It was only in the final part of the drama that fury got the best of me. After tears of nostalgic grief for poor Beth my disappointment rallied as I realised that the BBC had skipped the most essential aspect of Alcott’s story. Our heroine Jo, whose one staunch characteristic has thus been her reluctance to marry (to be a tomboy, to not have to bow to convention, or even stoop so low as to fall in love to begin with!), is seen to change her mind on a whim. The BBC had her place her hand in the Professor’s and there we have it, job done: let’s skip to years later.

What?!

Not to mention that they eliminated one of the pivotal moments in the entire novel. Any storyteller knows that in order for their narrative to be successful something – or someone – has to change. With Alcott, all of her ‘little women’ make transformations; Amy from spoilt child into lady of admirable taste, Meg into a housewife happy with her lot, Beth…well, perhaps not Beth who will always remain so. Yet, the biggest transformation in Little Women happens to Jo. By the time she is reinstalled at the March household, trying desperately to replace Beth’s goodness with her own, she is convinced that life for her shall be one alone. That is, of course, until her Professor comes visiting.

What the BBC did, in wrapping Jo’s story up so swiftly and subtly, was rob all of Alcott’s biggest fans of their favourite ending. They neglected their main character, the driving force behind the story – for if it were not for boyish Jo the Marches may never have met Laurie next door, or become so acquainted with his teacher, nor would Beth have had to visit the Hummel’s alone – all of which would have turned the story on its head with no marriages for Amy and Meg, and perhaps a brighter future for dear Beth.

But the exclusion of Jo’s pivotal moment as she stands out in the rain with the Professor under that umbrella is, for me, inexcusable. The BBC had it, it was right there; if they had skipped over Meg’s disastrous attempts at jam making (which had no consequence given that they missed out John bringing home an unexpected guest) they would have made room for the crucial, most-tender moment for Jo’s character:

“Ah, thou gifest me such hope and courage, and I haf nothing to gif back but a full heart and these empty hands,” cried the Professor, quite overcome.

Jo never, never would learn to be proper; for when he said that as they stood upon the steps, she put both her hands into his, whispering tenderly, “Not empty now”; and stooping down, kissed her Fredrich under the umbrella.”

This is the happy ending that we all waited for; not the ribbon-wrapped scene of the March women sitting in the fields around Plumfield years later, with a thinly veiled hint that Amy’s child is sickly like her departed auntie Beth.

Little Women/Good Wives

I’ll stick to reading the classic novels

So, it’s no lie to say that had I been in that writing room at the BBC I would have fought for Jo’s alteration of character to be central to that final instalment, to let her have that proposal out in the rain and not simply alluded to with a hand in hand exchange during a sing-along. Little Women, for many, is defined by Jo’s story – in some ways Alcott’s story herself – and the BBC seem to have forgotten that. I was hopeful for this series drama because I adore Little Women and would gladly sit through their stories time and time again. But when such an integral aspect of the book is so neglected it tarnishes the whole and, as such, I’m not sure I can forgive the BBC for their adaptation of Alcott’s classic work when it so callously robbed me of my favourite parts.

 

 

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Leadership in Writing

I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership recently, mostly for my Museum role: what is it, how can you identify it, who has it? etc. But it occurs to me that, although it’s primarily a corporate application, leadership should be present in the writing world too.

leadership-fotolia_10647934_m-300x199For me leadership means the ability to create an inspiring vision for the future and motivating people to create that vision. A leader can grow and maintain relationships, adapt well to change and is committed to a set of values they believe in. They own their responsibilities and aren’t afraid to admit when they’ve made a mistake – in fact, a good leader should be able to use that mistake as a learning opportunity to improve for the future.

But, when your passion lies in writing – essentially a solitary passion – how can you demonstrate leadership? Is there such a thing as leadership in writing? Or are there limitations to how you can lead in the writing world?

I suppose in order to identify leadership in writing, you must first recognise ‘writing’ as a business rather than a past time, and a business it is an increasingly successful one. The Publishers Association recently reported that the publishing industry as a whole in the UK was worth £4.4bn, with Ed Vaizey (UK Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy) commenting that “the publishing industry contributes £10.2bn a year to the UK economy.”* So, a business it most definitely is. However, as a business the writer is a cog in the machine, rather than a leader, and I want to know what it means to be a leader as a writer.

Inevitably, because of the business of writing, the leaders of the field could likely be well-known, popular authors who have led the way in publishing their work and selling to a high number of readers. So, in this case, who should I look up to as a leader in writing? J.K. Rowling? Stephen King? James Patterson? What about Jane Austen or Alexandre Dumas? Does the author I pick have to be in the here and now, or can they be someone from long ago whom I now admire and see as the figurehead for the ‘perfect writer’. Is that what leadership in writing should look like: the ideal of what a writer should be? If that is the case then I suspect what it comes down to – as in  most cases of leadership that we want to aspire to – is who do we admire as writers ourselves?

Identifying who it is I admire in the writing world is a far more difficult question than I thought. There are a few who come to mind immediately – Joanne Harris, Rosie Garland, Stephen King – and some that I admire not necessarily because of their books but because of their spirit – Kirsten Lamb, for one. But what is it about these writers that draws me to them? What qualities do they have that I admire? Is that what leadership in writing looks like for me?

Kirsten Lamb is a great example here – because I have already stated I admire her for her spirit rather than her books. That’s not to say that her books aren’t significant, but I will have to admit I’ve never read her books, only her blog – and it’s through the blog that I began to see a leader emerge. It’s enough for me that she describes herself on her website as ‘Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi‘: confidence and humour, two aspects of her personality that I am immediately drawn to, right there. I used to read Kristen’s blog posts like a bible, nodding my head at her observations and surprised at how humble she often came across; not tearing other people down with criticism, but often sharing it by admitting she was guilty of the same things. Somehow whilst imparting her wisdom and making me smile, I felt empowered. I’d read each blog post and think ‘Yeah, I can do this. I can be a writer’.

 

So, for me, one aspect leadership in writing is certainly empowerment – I need to feel empowered to believe in something bigger than the single writer sat alone in a room. I want to belong, and I want to feel welcomed. The community of #MyWANA (We Are Not Alone) that Kristen created exemplifies what leadership could be in writing and her about page sums it up: “Kristen has dedicated her life to helping writers and artists reach their dreams and achieve the impossible.” Yes – THAT – that is what leadership is all about.

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Via Wikipedia

But what about the more traditional authors I admire, like Harris, Garland and King? How do they demonstrate leadership in writing? Joanne Harris is active on social media (Check out her #Storytime on Twitter), she engages in issues in the news and doesn’t believe in the confines of ‘genre’. Having met her a number of times as part of the Huddersfield Literature Festival, I also know that she is incredibly supportive of her local community. That she isn’t afraid to be herself, doesn’t apologise for it and has a high sense of moral rightness, those are the things I admire about her.

 

Rosie Garland then? Another author who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and, if I might be so bold, have met up with from time to time to discuss writing. She’s certainly a mentor for me, of sorts. She had a tough path to publication (some would say life) and is consistently reminding aspiring authors to carry on believing in their dream. Her readings are spectacular, which possibly comes from the fact she has an altar ego, Rosie Lugosi: The Vampire Queen. For me she is a leader because of her guts and perseverance through adversity: I can’t imagine Rosie refusing a challenge just because it takes a bit of work.

 

As for Stephen King, well – duh – he’s Stephen King! Who wouldn’t admire the body of work that he has out there in the world. Not to mention he’s the author of ‘On Writing‘, which is recommended for budding writers across the world. There’s also something about his writing itself, a quality that I don’t think anyone else I have read has come close to capturing. For me, his characters are real people; my imagination hasn’t just conjured them up, they exist on the page and I can see them as clearly as if I was recalling an actual memory. It’s this somewhat unidentifiable quality that puts Stephen King ahead of many writers in my search for leadership: because he has led, certainly in the horror and psychological thriller aspects of writing, for many years. His name appears sixth on the top twenty writers (living or dead) named by UK residents in a survey by the Royal Society of Literature in 2017, beaten only by J.K. Rowling as the other living writer who appears second on the list.*

In essence, what I view as leadership in writing is my own personal preference. But, it’s made me think more about what type of writer I want to be and want to be seen to be. Writing today isn’t always about being behind a closed door. As an author you have to get out there in the world somehow and create a ‘following’ – be that on Twitter or Facebook or through personal interactions. In order to be a leader in writing you have to be willing to put yourself out there in the world and allow people to make a judgement. The type of writer I want to be is one who is inspiring, motivating and dedicated. I want to be a positive role model to other writers out there, but at the same time I don’t want to be an icon placed on a pedestal – I want to be me, I want to be able to live to my own expectations and decide for myself what it is I represent. And, of course, there is a side of me that wants fame in only that way that being a recognised name around the world can be. If I am to aspire to leadership in writing, and I want to know one day if I have succeeded, then these should be my goal posts. At least for now.

~~~~~

What about you? Do you have authors you would consider leaders in writing? And what does leadership mean to you when it comes to writing?

 

* Taken from The Publishers Association, 31st May 2016
* From Literature in Britain Today, 1st March 2017

 

The value of Literature Festivals

HLF2017 Logo with datesThis month has been all about the Huddersfield Literature Festivalbringing words to life between 4th-19th March. With over fifty events it’s been bigger than ever and I feel privileged to even say I play a small part in the organisation of such, being Festival Secretary and all. I’ve written before about how rewarding working for the Festival has been for me, and I would encourage any one (writer or reader) to seek out local festivals of any kind and join in where they can.

Literature Festivals are all about the writer, regardless of the written form; novels, short stories, poetry, flash fiction, non-fiction – anything goes. And by no means do I mean the writers who feature at the events. No, I also mean us, the public, those people who attend to hear more about the writing craft, who crave the success stories of debut authors and lap up the longevity of long-time, career writers. Personally, I sit in the audience and secretly wonder what it would be like to be on the other side; looking out over a sea of faces eager to hear more about my journey to becoming a published author. And this, I have discovered, is a very worthwhile motivator.

But it’s strange, because I know if I ever do get the chance to sit on the other side of that audience, all waiting for me to tell them how I got published, why this story, and why these characters – I know I would pass on the same cliches that we often hear today:

  • You have to finish the novel before you can look for an agent
  •  The story surprised me, I didn’t plan for it to be this way in the beginning
  • My characters took on a life of their own, they did things that were unexpected
  • I couldn’t force my characters to do something; they would resist by ruining the writing I was trying to make happen
  • It takes hard work, determination and persistence to get published
  • I received lots of rejections before finally finding an agent who believes in me

All of these things are true. They will also all be likely to remain true so long as traditional publishing is the main route to publication. Many of them apply even without the push to enter mainstream publishing; true of independent publishing and even some of self-publishing too. You can’t follow a formula for writing a best selling novel first time around, but you can count on the above being just as applicable for one author as much as another in the end.

The true value of a Literature Festival, though, lies in how you approach the events: you have to be a participant, not just an observer. Ask questions, take notes, speak to the people who are there. This is where you can network and meet like-minded writers and readers who will be thirsty for your stories, who will listen to your novel pitch with enthusiasm and interest, and possibly even highlight where your explanations needs expansion or clarification.

ian and david

Loved this pic by @DavidMBarnett with Ian Rankin

I spoke to a lot of people – some of them writers, others who were readers – and they were all complimentary when I told them I was a writer myself. I received encouragement from the authors I spoke to too: tips for getting back into writing, for carrying on through rejection, for simply being a part of the Festival itself. I got to drink with Ian Rankin in our local pub (he was particularly pleased after he bought a round for seven of us and still had change from a £20 note!). I met authors of books I might not ordinarily have read. And – this is important – whenever I attended an event I made an effort to buy the book. It’s important for me to demonstrate my support for the author in this way. Though I should say the Festival pays all of our authors to attend events, regardless of how established or popular they may be; being a debut author at Huddersfield Literature Festival does not mean you have to appear for ‘free’ because it might allow you to sell some books. We know how tough it can be and we are committed to supporting their success as an author.

By doing this – buying a copy of each of the novels of the events I participate in – I get to discover new authors, and read books I am invested in because I’ve heard the journey of the writer and how hard they worked to shape this novel or story or poem. I’ve discovered stories I absolutely love – Calling Major Tom by David Barnett, or Margot and Me by Juno Dawson. But, it also fuels my own imagination and makes me realise that I want this too. So, once I’ve signed off this post, perhaps after a cup of tea, I’m going to sit back down and write. I don’t know what, but I am going to write something; because if I don’t write, how can I call myself a writer?

 

 

 

 

How my dog makes me a writer

penny

Penny – 1st Canine BF

I don’t think I realise how integral being a dog-owner really is to who I am. I mean, I’ve always known I am a dog-person: even when I was little and we had two cats, four guinea pigs and even two horses the only pet I really desired was a dog. And since I made my first four-pawed friend at the age of eleven or so I haven’t been without a furry best friend until last year when Mac – my rescue Westie – died .

I spent six months dog-less: until I couldn’t do it anymore and we finally settled on rescuing Daisy – a 5yr old Pointer/Terrier mix who is more energetic than a mad, untrained puppy. And she was untrained; the only thing she knew was not to soil the house (thankfully). Unfortunately she hasn’t yet worked out she isn’t allowed on the kitchen worktops when we’re not home or in the bin, or on the furniture. She was one of nine dogs relinquished by an owner unable to care for them any more. She also howls when I go out, just from sheer boredom it appears as she shows no other signs of distress and doesn’t worry when we’re getting ready to leave. I guess that’s what living with eight other dogs can do; she’s probably never been on her own before.

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Dog #2: Ryac – Penny’s son

Anyway, what was I saying? Of course: I’m a dog-person. My soul is not content unless it has another to bond to, and I happen to think that doggy souls are the most loyal and doting ones out there. My life just seems incomplete without a four-legged friend to keep me company as I write.

 

The thing I missed the most in those dog-less six months was walking. Now I know you can walk on your own, but it just isn’t the same. I tried, a few times, but people aren’t as friendly when you’re on your own. Not once did people stop to talk to me as a solitary walker. Yet, the first time I went out with Daisy I had three conversations in the space of half an hour. And it is during these long, ambling strolls that I usually conjure up characters, ideas and work out tangled plot holes and problems.

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Mac – the rescue Westie

So it’s only natural that I’m writing again. Not much, just short ideas and story possibilities. I did, however, also manage to submit my complete novel to an agent and received my first official rejection all in the space of a month. I wear it like a badge of honour: nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, the opposite, as it proves I have enough faith in my work to share it. And it wasn’t a bad rejection, far from it, there were compliments included, the mention of the word ‘talent’. I won’t take it too seriously, but I need to identify a few other agents to submit to now, hunt around for the best choices and believe in myself enough to press send again.

So that’s why I’m here. Back from the ether to share my journey once again; hope that I will have something to contribute to the world through my ramblings and rediscover my love of blogging alongside that of fiction. In the meantime I have my dog to keep me entertained, healthy and content. I suppose what I’ve realised is that for me the two things are indistinguishably intertwined. I am both a dog-person AND a writer and I’m not sure I can be one without the other.

peaceful-daisy

Daisy – the ‘trouble-maker’!

 

 

 

When is the time to let go of grief?

How do you know when it’s time to open your heart up once it’s been broken?

We’ve been talking about getting another dog. I keep checking the Dogs Trust rehoming pages to see if a suitable rescue dog might need my love and attention. Sometimes I see a West Highland Terrier and I look more closely to see if it might be Mac, which is ridiculous because he’s gone. But I still look. I couldn’t rescue another Westie though; it wouldn’t be right. They wouldn’t live up to the enormous expectation I have for them to be Mac.

But another dog, maybe. At least that’s what I want to believe. We talk about it, I make all the right noises, say all the right things; but I’m not sure I can do it. Not yet. We keep mentioning Christmas, as if it’s a marker that by then my grief might be gone. We both know this is not true, but we pretend it could be. There’s discussion of a puppy. The boisterous energy and time, dedication, and the patience needed for this rules it out. We love our furniture too much. Sharp, gnawing teeth would not be welcome here.

I look back on my photographs of Mac – a poor substitution for the warmth of his stale-smelling fur that I miss more than anything – and think: “Not again. I couldn’t allow another companion to settle here only for it to be taken away again.” In short, I have the fear. The emptiness that consumes my insides and settles there, like a great, black stone anchored at the bottom of the sea, is beneath everything and even in the darkness it is inescapably present. I can’t deny its existence just because I can’t see it in the light of day, or because I want to pretend it’s not there. I still feel it pulling me down on occasion, not as often as before, but sometimes.Will it ever truly go away? Probably not.

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No matter how I feel now, it is worth it to have loved this ragamuffin.

This is the burden of pet owners: we outlive our best friends more often than not. Put simply, I am afraid of loving another dog because of the inevitable grief that would eventually follow thereafter. And, in order to welcome a new companion, I need to forget the anguish that is still so fresh in my heart that I can’t yet let go of, not yet, not so soon. But I must release it someday, otherwise I may be engulfed by the fear. And, therein lies the rub: I must let go of it. It will never release me unless I offer it release. I must want to give up feeling the grief before it can be let go. Am I ready to let it go?

And still, every dog I look at – wondering if this is the one that I could love next – is always tested by two criteria: could I love it enough to abandon the fear and; will it fill the hole in my heart where Mac used to be still is?

Until I stop asking that second question, another dog is unlikely to be the answer.

 

 

A Letter to My Dearly Departed Dog

Dearest Mac,

I miss you. It’s only been two months since you disappeared over Rainbow Bridge, a journey I sent you out on alone because you were no longer able to enjoy this life as you once had done. It was a difficult decision, but living with the consequences of such a choice has been much harder.

I miss having a reason to get out of bed in the morning and your sleepy little face waking up so pleased to see me; the sound of your paws on the laminate flooring, scraping and tapping away when you got up before I did. I miss the soft depth of your fur as I scratched behind your ears, watching the grin spread across your face and your head tilt further toward me, entranced by the bliss of my fingers massaging your head. I miss your smell; that musty, deep aroma that I used to breathe in whenever I came home after work: to me it meant that the wait was over, that it was time to play, that we were united again.

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I remember moaning whenever I was tired and I had to take you out in the rain, except, once we were out braving the weather together – you in your coat and me in mine – it was peaceful and energising. I always came back home feeling better than when we left. I recall your little trot instead of a walk and how you would bound about instead of run; your happy, swaying movements portrayed genuine joy and that could only ever make me smile. I remember coming home from work angry, when things hadn’t gone to plan or someone had let me down, and there you were, waiting to cheer me up, to make me forget the worries of the outside world because when we were together nothing else mattered to you, or to me.

There is a space beneath my desk now, where you used to rest beside my feet as I wrote. The corner where your bed used to be is clear and I don’t believe anything will ever fill that space again, not like you. The hook where your leads and collars and coats used to hang are empty now, the novelty dog tail still – there will be no more wags from you. The house is quiet without your footsteps, tapping along the hall, and no gentle snoring accompanies my daily chores although the silence echoes just as loud.

The largest void remains in my heart when I think of how essential you were to my life. At home you were my shadow and now no companion waits for me outside the bathroom door, as excited to see me after my two minute break than if I had been gone for hours. You were the reason I stopped to talk to people as we walked, and grew to know my neighbours. And when I struggled with my health you expected nothing but my love, and judged me not for the things I could not do but for the simplest gestures of attention that were all I could manage on a bad day. You helped me push through my boundaries and commit to the things I loved to do. In this way you were my inspiration, my muse and my champion; each day marked by those three walks we took that structured each one.

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I’ve stopped writing now. It isn’t the same without you here. There will always be something missing whenever I sit down at my desk and prepare to write. There is no impetus to roll out of bed, no thoughtful morning walk or happy playful times. My feet remain cold as I sit here and the room is quiet, and I have no encouraging eyes to look upon when I come to a blank moment. There is no end to the torture of that blank page that I am now to face alone; no hopeful face looking up at me to remind me that it’s time to stop and take a break. And there are no silly celebrations when I do finally find the words; no squeaky toys to watch you chase or treats for you to find. My writing world is ‘blah’ without you in it and I find myself at a loss to continue with it now you’re gone.

Instead I write to you, my faithful rescue dog, who knew how to make me smile when I was down and calm me when I despaired. You gave your whole self to me and I had to let you go. And the pain is still so raw, my home too empty and quiet, and my heart broken.

Yours Forever and More,
Cat x

The long winding road of how to be a writer…

Squeezing in time to write can sometimes be the biggest barrier to actually getting anything written. Most of us have busy lives and a list of priorities that other people can often depend on. Fortunately, right now I am lucky enough to not be in such a category.

Over the past three years I’ve had to rearrange my responsibilities quite drastically thanks to contracting a virus in 2009 that left me with M.E. (more commonly recognised as ‘Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’). Since then I have had to simplify my life. I was off sick for a number of months (and then off sick repeatedly over a number of weeks), and for a short time I could barely leave my apartment because I couldn’t be sure I’d have the energy to get back – even though I might only be considering a journey to the shop around the corner.

It was in this time I came to the realisation that I had always wanted to write, but never actually gotten around to do any real writing. I re-read some of my old journals, during which I digested pages and pages of promises to write, desire to create stories and even ideas that I planned to put down on paper…eventually. But, until 2011, nothing had come of it.

In 2011 I started to get better. Now, this disability isn’t one that has a typical course of treatment followed by a recovery time. M.E. can plague people for a lifetime, or it can slowly fade away only to reappear at another time. Here, again, I am one of the lucky ones. The methods I was advised to put in place to aid my body in the healing process worked for me. For others, this is not the case. As such, I was able to get back to work (and fortunately I had a workplace that had decent Occupational Health support and a Disability Office to advise me), and get my life back on track for the most part.

Now, that’s not to say I resumed my old life and picked up where things had left off. It was my old life that had gotten me into the mess in the first place. I was a high achiever, a perfectionist, a people-pleaser. I rarely said ‘No’ to anything asked of me and I thrived on deadlines and challenges. As it was, I also enjoyed the pride of a job well done and the glow of recognition and congratulation it brought me. But I didn’t have time to write. What do you know – pride does come before a fall!

So, when I started to recover from the overwhelming tirade of symptoms that characterised M.E. (surprisingly, it’s not just being tired all the time, there are a whole host of other doozies that just serve to tire you out even more!), I promised myself that I wouldn’t repeat history. This time I would try; not for everyone else, not for the adulation, but for me. I consistently wrote that I wanted to write – well, that I would.

And so the blog was born! I threw myself into writing, even though I hated what I wrote. It was sloppy, it didn’t read well, it was full of clichés and stereotypes: but I was writing! Then I discovered NaNoWriMo and I set to the challenge with cautious gusto. I struggled through it and got my ‘win’ – and also one third of a first draft novel that it would take me a whole year to complete. But I had done it.

And you know how? By keeping that promise to myself and by putting into practice all the things I learned when I was recovering from my M.E.:

  1. Pace Yourself
  2. Plan Ahead
  3. Moderation
  4. Delegation
  5. Only give 80% (actually, this was 10% when I first started recovering – I had to work up to this slowly!)
  6. Maintain Hope
  7. Ask for Help

Advice for those with M.E. is to relinquish control. Stop doing all those things that people expect of you and just do the things that are important. For me, for a while, that meant being signed off sick rather than struggling into work. This also meant that I had to ask for help and share out what needed doing to other people. It was the same at home, I wasn’t capable of most of the household chores, so they were delegated to my partner. Even now I have only done the washing up a handful of times this year because it is one of the tasks I abhor and it used to set off my ME symptoms.

Number 5. also gave me a lot of trouble. I was used to throwing myself into things at 120% – in fact, that is what people expected of me, so it was even harder to give that up. But I discovered that I could still do much of what was needed without having to exhaust myself in the process. I held back. I stopped when I was tired. I started to say ‘No’ when I knew I couldn’t commit to something. I was forced to plan ahead and schedule my time wisely – not for other people, but for myself.

Hence, I created more time for my writing. I re-prioritised my entire life. I changed the way people reacted to me because I clearly stated what my boundaries were. I did what I knew I could, when I knew I could do it. And it’s the same with writing.

For those without M.E. who perhaps have better reserves of energy, writing might be something that they feel they have to fit in around their busy life. They might slot it in sometime between waking up and getting to work, or getting home and going to bed. They might start to question whether or not it’s worth it to write because they can’t give it their full attention, or because what they write doesn’t seem very good.

Well…if that’s the case: do what I did and change the way you approach it. I’m not advising that you should shrug off all your responsibilities and go wild with your word count, but it needs to be prioritised higher than some other things sometimes.

I know that every day I must write…not because I ‘should’ but because I want to dedicate some time to that which I love doing. To ensure that I get to do this I schedule my responsibilities around it. I give an hour to this task, twenty minutes to that task. I plan my days off as much as I would plan my work day – assigning time frames and task lists to ensure that I don’t go overboard and forget to accomplish my priorities and meet my targets. But I only do what I need to…because I also need to write.

I guess the point to my long rambling here is that I have learnt that writing is something to be taken seriously. In order to be a writer then I had to commit to it just like anything else. I had to practice and prioritise it. This doesn’t always mean giving more time to it – because time is a limiting factor that you can’t change – but it does mean that when you do give it time, you focus on writing and nothing else.

Don’t think of it as squeezing writing between waking up and getting to work; be proud that you are prioritising your writing time, and classify it as such. Label it your writing time – and don’t let anything get in the way of it. Don’t relegate it to the bottom of the list.

If it’s important to you, it’s important

If you want to be a writer. BE a writer. Don’t ever apologise for wanting to follow your dreams.