The Power of Three

images (1)I took a break from writing during the summer and thought it would be like flicking a switch when I decided to tackle my idea for a fourth novel. I was wrong. The routine I’d established was gubbed. I also felt very emotional and unsettled about the referendum for Scottish independence and it meant that I found it difficult to concentrate on anything other than the news. Instead of writing, I got sucked into reading blog posts, newspapers, watching and attending debates in the run-up and aftermath of the vote. By the end of September, it was time to say ‘No thanks’ to faffing around and ‘Yes’ to making a proper start on my idea for a fourth novel!

photo.JPG 55uu519IhdvBMUL._AA160_But I needed some inspiration to get me fired back up again and I found it by going to three excellent writer events.

As part of Stirling’s Off the Page book festival, Laura Marney was appearing at Dunblane library. I’ve read all of Laura’s previous books and had heard her read once before, so I went along expecting it to be a good night. I wasn’t disappointed. Laura is a very bubbly and vibrant personality; she talks 100mph and could easily be a stand-up comedienne. The book she was promoting – For Faughie’s Sake is the sequel to her debut novel – No Wonder I Take a Drink and sounded just as funny and interesting, especially with its referendum theme. Listening to Laura’s enthusiasm for writing was infectious and it gave me a much-needed nudge to get back in the saddle.

photo.JPG 5541Rmw9-bklL._AA160_Another source of stimulation was when I visited the Glasgow Women’s Library to hear Shazia Hobbs read from her debut novel – The Gori’s Daughter. Although the book is described as fiction, it’s clearly based on Shazia’s own upbringing as a mixed race woman who battled against the rejection and hostility her background generated in both Glasgow’s white and Asian communities.  Shazia’s account gave me an insight into a world I know nothing about and I was moved by her honesty in sharing painful memories.

photo.JPG bb51qZQuEUdzL._AA160_The third event I went to was at the C.C.A. in Glasgow and was organised by the Scottish Writers’ Centre where Jackie Kay gave an ‘In Process’ masterclass. Jackie is one of my favourite writers and to hear her speak again is not only inspiring, it’s entertaining too. She read from her memoir, Red Dust Road and a few of her poems from Fiere as well as sharing her writing hints and tips. As I’ve recently been struggling with the opening chapters of my new novel, Jackie’s advice for those writers who work across forms was that rather than forcing your way through a traffic jam of words, change direction and work on something different. Whilst writing her latest novel, she’s adopted a strategy of as she calls it, ‘crop rotation’ and rests the novel while she writes poetry. I’m going to take her advice and park up my novel to write some flash fiction or a short story if the words don’t flow.

How do you keep yourself inspired? Are you guilty of faffing and how do you battle it?





10 thoughts on “The Power of Three

    • Hi Rebecca, I think faffing is a common affliction among writers. I’m an avid reader (I’d have to be if I call myself a writer) but I hadn’t really thought of reading as my source of inspiration and yet like you, I’m always thinking I wish I’d written the book if I’ve admired the writing so it does inspire me too.

  1. I faff too much on Facebook! Writing is such a lonely process – any time I get fed up I’m on F/B to know there’s life out there! Setting a deadline is one way to stop faffing (says she whose deadline is 1 October!!)

    • Hi Marie, Yes, the demon FB can suck up time and I’m on Twitter even more so perfect for us faffers to act as a virtual water cooler/photocopier for gossip and chat. All the best with your overdue deadline! 🙂

  2. What great events! No wonder you are inspired. 🙂 I agree with you: it’s important for writers to disengage from non-writing distractions, or at least find ways to balance out all these different aspects. For those who don’t write – hey, they can fritter away all their thinking time how every they like. Writers, however? We have to be careful!

    ~Tui aka @TuiSnider on Twitter dropping by from #WWWblogs, because I like to comment on all the blogs that I RT. 🙂

  3. Hi Helen

    Only just read your piece which I enjoyed very much! Coincidentally I just wrote a post on the theme of literary inspiration yesterday so what you said was very interesting. I’ve definitely been inspired by author events. Good luck with your new projects.

    • Hi Isabel, Just been catching up on your last posts and they are so similar in theme to my moans about faffing and needing fired up! We both seem to need external inspiration to keep us motivated and hopefully all these literary events we attend will help us complete our current WIPs! 🙂

  4. Hello, here I am back in the world of wordpress! I know exactly what you mean about this past summer. There just isn’t enough time to do the writing that needs done, as well as be a responsible, informed citizen. I’m so relieved to be focusing on writing again but I’m resentful of all the news I’m missing in the process. Forget extra hours in the day – I’d like a few extra lives so I could relax and concentrate fully on the one I have now.

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