The great writing dream is surely a completely clear schedule. Day after day, week after week of time to yourself, to think and dream and immerse yourself in a consciousness not entirely your own. I dream about it often enough, especially when I’m juggling a bunch of different and quite disparate projects. In reality though, I know it probably wouldn’t suit me.
What does suit is a fine balance between being too busy to start getting my thoughts in any kind of order and having so little to do that my brain starts to hibernate and hunts for low-impact tasks to keep it ticking over (making soup, reorganising my desk and so on).
It’s not an easy balance to achieve – it’s far too easy to tip one way and then the other – but when it’s working well, everything is energised. Work achievements energise writing and getting something creative done fills me with wellbeing that spills into everything else. For me, this elusive balance is probably the real dream and it’s in its pursuit that I stopped helping out at the excellent Edinburgh Review.
I’ll miss that place but I have lots of other extracurricular activities to keep me going (I’m looking at you, Edinburgh City of Literature and Porty Book Fest!). Of course, there’s the regular day job too, but I’m lucky enough to be freelance.
There have also been a few little injections of writing faith in recent weeks, including a spot on the Bristol Prize Longlist, which sometimes throw you off balance but always in the best possible way. Is the desire to be busy, but just a little bit busy, pretty average for writing types or do you think that a window of completely free time is what you really need to get going?