I’m a wannabe. That’s right, for various reasons my career bent sideways again and again. I’m part of the ‘slash’ generation. Soldier / cleaner / taxi driver / District Officer (child protection officer) / bookkeeping / administration. I’m a jack of all trades and master of none. A dilettante. After a decade of following various environmental themes quite closely, there’s one thing burning in the back of my mind. A collapse story, but one with a difference, one I haven’t seen in any movie yet (except maybe hinted at in Doctor Who).
I want to become a writer. So while working in admin in a large Aussie telco, and then coming home to do yet more admin for my wife’s design firm; and while following environmental stories and issues, I have also been studying grammar and writing.
But in all this chaos, how do I stay motivated? I read a number of writing blogs. One I follow because she taught me a short writing course earlier this year. Claire Scobie gives all sorts of advice, and this one is particularly effective if you’re feeling totally despondent.
Clean your desk!
Spring clean your desk. Honestly, clearing your physical space helps remove psychic clutter. Take 2 hours to sift through your stack of papers, chuck out obsolete drafts & make space for the new. Wipe down your desk, pick some flowers, make it a pleasant place to sit.
In my case, I probably also need that other great art lost to the modern world, sleep, but for now I can testify to the mind-cleansing power of a clean desk. Do it. Buy a few manilla folders or 2 ring binders, and attack that corner of guilt-and-shame that you’ve been looking at for the last year. Sort it out. Categorise it. Put things to do in your in tray: or just plain do them. Tidy it, clean it, wipe it down.
And if that fails to get your creative juices flowing again, read a book. It’s hard to imagine now, with all the horrible news about ISIS coming out of Iraq, but there’s an old Iraqi saying I like. “To live is to read.” Do it.
Then when you’re refreshed and tidy and ready to go, I would add one last thing. If “to live is to read” then imagine how good it will feel to sit and read your finished first draft after a good 6 week break! Imagine getting in your comfy chair, having a favourite treat, and just binge reading your own work for the sheer pleasure of it. You can mull over editing strategies the next day: first draft’s always suck. But the sheer fact of having finished it must be an amazing experience! I remember finishing some impressively long sociology essays, and that was some fairly dry material. I can’t wait for the day I let loose with characters running amok in a post-collapse Sydney!