Friday, March 14, 2008

Getting into the zone

I've been writing really slowly, which is unusual for me. Partly I think it's because I'm trying something new - a new way of writing stories for me - and I'm feeling my way with it, but it's also because I've been pretty distracted by family illness.

Every now and then I read something, usually on the web, which implies that writers have no business letting themselves get distracted, that it's just too precious, for writing is a job of work, and writer's block is nothing but a pretentious excuse for something much more down-to-earth: simply getting stuck.

Well, I've given out plenty of advice in my time for dealing with this last but, you know, sometimes it really isn't just a matter of practicalities. As far as I'm concerned, in order to write you really do need a particular psychic state - emotionally different for each thing you write, but always a separate space from that which you inhabit day-to-day. It's as the athletes and sports people say: you need to get 'in the zone'. It's a kind of dream-like state, a kind of trance - indeed, John has sometimes come into my room when I'm writing and touched me on the shoulder and I haven't even noticed. And it's hard to get into it when there are other things on your mind like your brother's chemo or your partner's hospital tests.

As fellow Salt author Carys Davies has said to me, writing time needs to be 'pure'.

Well, maybe it doesn't for some people. Maybe they are better than me and Carys at cutting off and getting into the zone whatever's going on. But then if you can't do it so easily, aren't you disadvantaged or disabled? And no one wants to condemn the disabled for their disability, do they?

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