I heard Jeffrey Archer interviewed once discussing his approach to writing. He doesn’t plan out what he is going to write, he just sits down and lets the pen – he still writes out his work long hand – go wherever it wants. As a fairly obsessive (read very obsessive) planner, I find this idea a little unsettling. I like to know what I am doing each day – I like to think about what I am going to write before I put pen to paper (fingers to MacBook!) – I like to plan dinner as I am having my breakfast! Perhaps it is my obsession – that word again – for audience, message and method but I like to take a few moments to think about these things before I start writing. However, today I have taken a leaf out of Archer’s book – just this one I hasten to add – and just started writing.
I am penning this post in the cafe in Marks in Southport. I was here yesterday – in the shop, not the cafe – picking up some fruit and other stuff for Miss J but forgot some mini chocolate ice creams – a special treat – which she loves. As readers of this blog will know, I have been on something of a journey – cliche alert – since the days of working full time in full-on jobs in London at the GMC and PwC. The prospect of spending my days as I do now – working but on my terms at my time of choosing etc – would have been unthinkable. By that I mean I wouldn’t have even considered it, as it was something I could never dream of doing. A great day for me was being able to work at home – this was great because it meant I didn’t have to leave the house but I ended up doing more work than an office-based day.
Yesterday and today I was able to spend time doing some domestic jobs in advance of moving house; buying food; cooking (I’m doing a pan of Scouse today – the weather here has inspired me); writing; prepping some teaching for the next few weeks (I am lecturing on social media and focus groups at LJMU before the end of the month); doing some AMJ Comms admin; thinking about some business development work for Lexington North – I have a few ideas to put on paper; and most importantly going to and from pre-school with our special little person. Yesterday was so lovely as Aoife has been given the class pet – Patch – a toy dog – to look after for a few days. We are off to Ireland this weekend to see family and so he will be coming with us – alongside his rucksack which he travels in and his blanket – and his journal. We have to take some photos and write up what he got up to – so, so cute. Aoife is very excited.
With my cuppa and scone demolished – you can always rely on Marks – I am heading home to continue my day at home. I still pinch myself at these days – sometimes feeling a fraud or guilty for how I am working and living – then I remember. I remember all the years of hard work – all the sacrifices – all the pain – all the tears. I remember all these things, take the last sip of my tea and catch myself on. There is nothing to be guilty about – just proud, relieved, happy, contented, lucky and most of all, alive. I feel alive.
How did I find the ‘Archer-style just writing’ experiment; as scary as it was invigorating but that’s not to say I won’t try it again. Archer may be many things – as Michael Crick would testify – but he has certainty sold a few books. I will continue to test myself with his approach – all part of being alive.