Not Enough Time

The year-long mentoring scheme starts in October, and I’ve been talking to people about it: the commitment, the challenges, and the benefits.
Some writers have signed up without hesitation because it’s the opportunity they’ve been waiting for to birth that long dreamed-of book-child.
There have also been people who’ve sent an initial, enthusiastic YES, followed by another email hard on the heels of the first, qualifying that with an  umm… err… perhaps I responded too quickly…
Their reason for changing their mind is usually a variation on the theme of I just don’t think I’ll have the time. They often add, I’ll come back to you next year. I’ll have more time and energy when…
a) I give up my job
b) my children leave home
c) the divorce has gone through
d) I retire
e) my health is better
Now, if you’re one of those in-then-out-of-the-scheme people, just watch what’s happening to you now.  Are you beginning to sink in your seat, embarrassed, or shamed?
If so, is that because you feel you responded without thinking in that first email? Or because, in sending the second email, you fear you’re failing in your writerly quest to get that book finished, and out there?  Or is it just because you changed your mind?
To allay one concern, I’ll say, as the receiver of those two emails, that it’s no problem for me if you change your mind like that. I believe it’s a basic human right to re-think something.
I’ll also say, unequivocally, that if you responded to that first email without thinking, that’s brilliant. Do that more. Expose your instinctual animal self more.
On the subject of failing; the only person you make a contract with when you decide to write a book, is yourself. So, the only person you can fail, is yourself.  A feeling of failure is only useful for one thing, for making us examine at how we’ve set up our expectations, in order to renegotiate them with ourselves. 
The most important job for us as writers, arguable more important than the act of writing itself, is to raise our confidence, and then raise it some more. To keep remembering we are skilled in the art of sitting down in front of the blank page. That means hitting our own targets. It’s almost irrelevant whether that’s writing for four hours a day, or fifteen minutes a week.  If we keep doing it, one day we find it’s done.
When you’ve negotiated a realistic contract with yourself, start saying no to the I’m a failure line in your head. Life is tough enough, why make it harder by beating yourself up?
I’m very grateful indeed to the in-then-out-of-the-scheme-people because they point up an internal message that sabotages so many of us writers- I don’t have time.
I know very well that feeling of overwhelm when thinking about fitting writing into a busy schedule of work, childcare and domestic tasks. However, I’d say that the idea that we’ll have more time in the future is largely an illusion.
Reality check 1: there is enough time to write.
Reality check 2: you will never have more time than you do now.
We can invent all sorts of stories about it, but actually, none of us have any idea what the future will hold. Chances are it will also be busy. Ever noticed how human beings like to fill time in any way they can?
My general line is that we need to know how to deal with that feeling of overwhelm, of constriction, of too-much-ness, and write despite the busyness, rather than waiting for more space. Scary? Yes, I know.
Perhaps this message from Stephen King, via Neil Gaiman will help,

“I think the most important thing I learned from Stephen King I learned as a teenager, reading King's book of essays on horror and on writing, Danse Macabre. In there he points out that if you just write a page a day, just 300 words, at the end of a year you'd have a novel. It was immensely reassuring - suddenly something huge and impossible became strangely easy. As an adult, it's how I've written books I haven't had the time to write.”
So much more than we expect can be achieved, if we put down the procrastinating.


The Monthly Writing Prompt

Here’s a challenge for you:  if you have 15 minutes spare in a day, how about using that to write, rather than to think about when that next clear hour will come up? Do that every day for a month.  

Time To Finish That Book?

At every course and workshop I’ve ever taught, individuals have arrived, plonked themselves down in a chair, glanced at the assembled group, heaved a relieved sigh, and said ‘you know, it’s just really hard to do it on your own’ (or words to that effect).

In my experience, it’s not mastering writing skills that’s the tough bit. We’re all natural storytellers, and techniques are relatively easy to learn. No, the really challenging things about being a writer are :-

- Carving out time in a busy life, to write.

- Feeling supported and motivated in the solitary task of writing.

- Keeping enough perspective and having sufficient, quality feedback to judge what’s working. 

- Staying focused and patient enough to get to the necessary level of detail.

What marks out a successful from an unsuccessful writer, is not that intangible ‘talent’. It’s two other things. Firstly, the ability and willingness to keep plodding on. The best writers are very hard workers. Secondly, knowing how to ask for help when it’s needed.

I find nothing more satisfying than helping a writer dust down that manuscript that they’ve been trying to complete for years, and get it to the point of publication.

There is nothing more conducive to confidence and happiness in life, than doing what we told ourselves we would do, and finishing that book. That’s the moment when we stick our flag on the summit of Everest.


The Details

The mentoring scheme runs from October 2016- September 2017. There is a limited number of places. It is composed of twelve hour-long sessions (one a month), via Skype/telephone or in person. The process will be tailored to individual needs, and will offer: -

-Writing skills

-Goal-setting/practical advice

-Support to manage any blocks that come up during the creative process

-Detailed handouts to support subjects covered

-A mid-month email 'hello' to check how you're doing

-Optional experiments (exercises) to undertake between the sessions

-Written feedback can be offered in lieu of meeting time, if appropriate

The fee is £1000, payable upfront, or in monthly instalments.

The scheme is aimed primarily at those who are serious about completing a longer fiction or non-fiction project. It's also for those who want to make an on- going commitment to improving their storytelling skills. I guide you to come up realistic goals, and to stay on a steady path to completing them. If you take a up a place on this scheme, I promise, I'll be with you all the way :-) 

I look forward to hearing from you if it's what you're looking for.


Bridget Holding- Biography

Bridget spent six years as a screenwriter. She is a winner of the Sky Movies Short Film of the Year Award, with The Rat Trap, a film staring Emilia Fox. She has also read screenplays for Sky Television. 
She’s a former associate lecturer for The Open University, and has been a tutor of creative writing for The University of Exeter since 2008. She’s spoken or taught at the following festivals of literature: The Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, Uppingham Summer School, The Telegraph Ways with Words Festival, Winchester Writers’ Festival, Penzance Literary Festival, Swindon Festival of Literature, Chipping Campden Literary Festival.
She runs Wild Words online and real-world writing community.  Access the Facebook page here. 
She’s also trained as an integrative arts-based psychotherapist specialising in enabling the creative process in writers. Her articles have been published in Writing Magazine, and The Psychotherapist. She has featured in magazines including Saga Magazine.