Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The infinity of writing a book. (Or, ‘How to complete great tasks.’)

Sometimes the end of the writing process
can feel very far away.
Since finishing my album, I've turned my attention to my writing.

I'm pretty proud of myself for this, because it's what I said I would do, and also because I find it harder to stay focused on: writing a book is a long process, it's difficult to see the end and I’m easily distracted along the way.  Recording an album feels very finite in comparison – the end is almost tangible, so I strive all the more for it.

Some of this 'finiteness' comes from experience: I've recorded albums, I know how much work they are, and how long they take, so I give myself appropriate time scales to complete them.

For example, I know it would be foolish for me to advertise that my next album will be out next year when I haven't even started writing any new material.

To overcome the 'infinity' of writing a book, I have started to set myself achievable goals.  I think this is how to approach any large, or scary, task: break it down into smaller tasks you know you can achieve. 

Moving house?  Don't think about that, think about packing a box – you know you can do that, you've no doubt done it before – then pack another one.  Slowly, your whole house will be packed away and you'll be ready to move.

Writing a book?  Don't think about that, think about writing 1,000 words (or if that's too many, 100) – you know you can do that, you've done it before.  Then start thinking about the next 1,000 (or 100).

Don't be hard on yourself, expecting to finish your great novel in 6 months.  Give yourself time – it doesn't matter how long it takes, really – perhaps it will take longer than you realised (I know my album did!).

But eventually, through completing your achievable, non-scary, finite goals, the book will take shape, almost of its own accord.  

At least, that's what I'm hoping.

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