When you’re not writing, keep the faith & Head above Water class preview

If you’re a writing parent like me, the summer holidays can make writing progression at best interesting and at worst a write-off literally. Preparations for back to school for (in my case) four children at three different schools is mind boggling, expensive and a complete time suck. I’ve also decided to use the holiday time to finally tackle ten years worth of papers, toys and those tiny bits and pieces in boxes and drawers, so I’ve done little writing and am fit to spend a bit of time in some padded cell or other, with no clutter whatsoever.

Organising my writing stuff

In addition to some DIY (look at our beautiful new BOOKSHELVES) I’ve also arranged box files with old drafts and am filing research for future projects and general stuff I find interesting.

This all takes a MASSIVE amount of time but I’m hoping it will make me much more effective when it comes to getting stuck in to projects in the future. No more “where are those edits?” or “Which draft is this?” or “where’s that vital piece of paper.” NO MORE EXCUSES to get up off the chair again. (Here’s hoping.)

Like many things when you start getting interesting in something it can become an obsession, so as well as organising my own files I’m sorting out files for the kid’s work and have just sellotaped my youngest’s name (Age 6.5, he starts a new school tomorrow) to each one of his ‘Twistables.’ Something must save me from this madness and something will, that something is…


Those who’ve been with me from the start of this blog in 2009 will know that oh my goodness the kids were tiny then. 2, 5, 7, and 9. This year my youngest will finally move to a later school ending slot at 2.20, so I’ll have a great span of time to push on with writing (while pretending the housework doesn’t exist.)

Keeping the Faith

This is what I promised in the title. How do you keep the faith if due to school holidays, general holidays, life challenges, illness etc you haven’ written in a while. Here’s some suggestions.

1: Like me, do something related to your writing work like organising your manuscripts, creating a writing area, put up so me shelves, gather your writing books
2: Read writing books such as On Writing by Stephen King, Zen and the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and so on. You’ll feel at home with the people who, like you, love writing and can’t -in the long term – not write. You’ll know you belong in the writing world.
3: Read in general and recall the joy of novels and stories that brought you to write in the first place.
4: Read over some of your own work, recall your successes however small, remind yourself that even orientation towards making yourself a better writer or embarking on a project is a big step that you should commend yourself for. You are thinking ‘writing’ and you will get back to it. Thinking space is thoroughly important for the process of incubation. If you haven’t managed to write for a while, you’ve still been working in your head and gathering ideas (jot them down!)
5: Take in everything you see, places you visit, know that this will all find it’s way into your books in the future.

September, begin again, Head above Water courses

September is one of those begin again months, academically at least. For some writing parents it’s an opportunity to reappraise and set a writing schedule.

This Autumn I aim to run my Creative Practice and Short Stories course again locally in Bray, Co. Wicklow. This course is specifically designed to generate verve and ideas and help writers within busy lives, see out and find ways to start writing. The course also covers the essentials of short story and flash fiction writing.

New courses are planned in Short Stories and also in Flash Fiction (These will be for beginners and improvers and will cover the key elements for writing successful Short Stories and Flash Fiction with a chance to workshop an existing story and also do some new writing.

An interesting and exciting new course I’m adding is called What I Felt, this will combine the creative pursuits of writing and feltmaking, while also covering the role of autobiography in writing and looking at journalling, morning pages, how to incorporate (or not) live experiences in fiction and so on. This will be a fun and restorative class that I think people will thoroughly enjoy.

All classes take place on Sunday mornings until about lunchtime the Short Stories Course and possibly Flash Fiction may operate over two morning on consecutive weeks. I find this time suits in particular parents and those will weekend commitments while still allowing people to take time out for themselves.

More details including dates etc will be available soon. If you’d like to hear more email me at alison@brierwell.com

There’ll be more posts here to give you a kickstart (or a kick) for creativity in September and get you back into the swing of things. Have you had a break and how has the summer season been for you writing wise?