We’ve been busy decorating daughter’s bedroom recently. It seems to me that the life of a child is played out in phases, in her case characterized by the décor of her room. When she was young it was a Winnie the Pooh room. When old enough to express a preference we moved into a pink Disney Princess theme. Several years on, she was fascinated by the ocean, so we switched to blue and accessorised with all things under the sea. Now that she is a teenager we have moved on again and I’m sure that her purple walls will soon be covered with posters from her beloved Kerrang magazine.
As I stroked the brush across the walls, it struck me that navigating the creative world of writing feels quite similar in many ways. When I discovered fiction writing, all those years ago, I started with a few short stories. Then I dipped my toe in the water and decided to write a novel which eventually became An Unfamiliar Murder. I had a bit of a paddle with The Truth Will Out, still unsure of whether it would actually work. With my latest, I plunged myself right in at the deep end and immersed myself in it. However, since starting my fourth, I feel I’ve lost my way a little.
I think this is largely due to the ‘lifestyle phase’. Work and family commitments have been such recently that I haven’t had much time to think about my writing. For me, so much of the story, the character development and the plotlines, are churned over time and time again in my head before anything ever reaches the page. I have copious notebooks with bits scribbled in that I may or may not use at some stage. But unless I have time to develop those ideas, they will never reach the page.
I should be frustrated, yet I don’t really feel that way. I’ve had a great summer in the sunshine, spent time with my daughter, enjoyed a family holiday, done jobs around the house and caught up with work. So I guess I’m also in a different phase of my writing life, when perhaps I just need to sit back and let life wash over me for a while. I’m sure sooner or later there’ll be a gap that a character or a storyline can pop into for consideration. I certainly hope so.
Do you experience different phases in your writing life? How do you manage the demands of a busy lifestyle with your work? I’d love to hear your views.