Let’s face it, for many of us the summer did not involve quite as much writing as we had planned, because of childcare responsibilities. Frustrating though it may have felt at times, I do know in my heart of hearts that downtime does have its uses! I can see it in the way the children relate to me now, and I swear I can feel new paths forming between my neurons.
But now it’s autumn, it’s the start of the schoolyear, it’s Vive la Rentrée, as the French call it. A season when I always feel new energy and new resolutions coming along…
So here are some of my favourite inspirational writing thoughts to get you in the mood:
1) Geoff Dyer (author of the wonderfully if tongue-twistedly entitled ‘Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi’): ‘Never ride a bike with the brakes on. If something is proving too difficult, give up and do something else. Try to live without resort to perseverance. But writing is all about perseverance.’
2) Neil Gaiman: ‘The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.’
3) AL Kennedy: ‘Write. No amount of self-inflicted misery, altered states, black pullovers or being publicly obnoxious will ever add up to your being a writer. Writers write. On you go. Remember writing doesn’t love you. It doesn’t care. Nevertheless, it can behave with remarkable generosity. Speak well of it, encourage others, pass it on.’
4) Hilary Mantel: ‘You can’t give your soul to literature if you’re thinking about income tax.’ N.B. So that’s why it isn’t working for me at the moment…!
5) Joyce Carol Oates: ‘Keep a light, hopeful heart. But expect the worst.’
6) Helen Simpson: ‘The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying “Faire et se taire” (Flaubert), which I translate for myself as “Shut up and get on with it.”‘
7) Jeanette Winterson: ‘Turn up for work. Discipline allows creative freedom. No discipline equals no freedom.’
8) Franz Kafka: ‘ You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice…’
9) Simone de Beauvoir: ‘Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.’