The ‘Out of Office’ Response is On

Photo by Andrea Davis on

And suddenly there is nothing standing in my way, not even me.

For the last four weeks I’ve been on a mission to get all of my work shuffled away in the hope that September, thanks to a bursary from the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough (added to some of my own money), would be a month totally devoted to writing the novel. This sabbatical isn’t just about the work that I want to get done; the luxury of having hours at a time to settle in, sink in to my work without distraction, it is also about having the chance, perhaps the only chance I’ll ever have (not everyone makes it to being a creative writer full time) to be a writer for a month. To indulge myself, to do the things I have been moaning about not being able to do, in the name of my own art. (Pretentious, moi?) What I mean by that is that this writing month will be about more than just getting the word count up and banging the novel out, I will have the time to think, to reflect, to position myself in a place of peace so that I can get my best work done. I want to experience the particular type of calm where I find I write best.

My plan is to spend the mornings writing, from day-break to lunchtime, Hemingway style, though without all the excessive booze. The afternoons are for reflective practices – beach walks, research, journalling, reading, looking out of the window, absorbing, being. I have never been in a position to do this before. Like most writers I’ve always shoe-horned writing in at five in the morning before work starts, after work, in five minute breaks between work. So I don’t know how well I’ll do with it, it’s a different way of working, a method that puts me and my practice first, as the priority; something that the voice of imposter syndrome is not liking. Oh no, that bitch is Up. In. Arms. I’m not listening to her. I’m doing it anyway.

I’m making an effort to drink less too, so that my head is clear for my morning routine. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t drink martinis with my morning marmite on toast, but I do find that I drink more than I should, reaching for a few glasses of wine almost every night. I won’t be checking my emails either, until tea time and I won’t be on social media before five pm. That’s the real killer. I am addicted to Tok Tok, which is quite the time suck. I love (and also hate) social media and feel slightly queazy thinking about being without my online community. Without the on line community, there is just me, my office and my work. I feel I might find it quite difficult to miss out on the trends and chatter, to not be a part of it. But like I said in an earlier blog post, there has to be a time when I make that next big step towards the dream, which is to be a writer who teaches sometimes, rather than a teacher who writes sometimes. The only way to do that is to put my work first. It’s done, for this month anyway, and now the only thing getting in my way is my fear of failing. I’m not going to let that spoil this for me.

I chose September for my writing month because it is the time of year when I feel most at peace, before the melancholy of winter. As I sit her now, the clouds are low, the light is fading and there is a chill to the evening air, and yet earlier I wore sandals and no cardigan to walk the dog. The scent of straw and hay and harvest is lingering on the breeze, the swallows are leaving, the swifts have left and the geese are starting to fly over the house, heading south along the coast line. What a beautiful, still, time of year, what a perfect tome to be creative.

The out of office response is set, all I have to do now is write.

Until next time


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