Tuesday 21 November 2017

Team sport

Right now (not literally right now) I'm doing NaNoWriMo. Its the first time I've ever done it and its also about the first time I've written 30k words in 18 days (yes, I started writing this quite a while before it was published). I previously thought I wasn't capable of sustained quick writing. Proving myself wrong is great.

What is making it work is community. The fact I'm even doing this at all can be put down to the enthusiasm of the people at SFFChronicles. They made it sound fun so I decided to give it a go with an idea I came up with somewhere near heat of the moment. And a big part of why I'm sticking with it is that every day, when I get home from work, I look at the Facebook group and feed off other people's progress. Even when there is no progress, I feed. But there usually is. Probably partially because of other people feeding.

I've only been a bit of writing forums for a year and a half now but I don't know how I'do do without them now. I know how I did without them; I wasn't very good. A lot of that is to do with picking up lessons but part of it is moral base. And all of this is making me want to share an idea I came up with a while ago on writers' block.

Some people dismiss writers' block, arguing there's no such thing as plumbers' block or binman's block. They go to work even if they don't feel like it. To which it must be stated that not all work is created equal; jobs where you don't need to think and you still get paid if you half-arse it aren't really meant for comparison with jobs where you do need to think and you don't get paid if you half arse it. Jobs where no one but your manager and customer (if that) care if you stuff it up aren't the same as jobs where thousands of people will vent about it.

The ideal comparison for writers is a job where you have to perform to a high standard consistently to see your money and with a high level of public pressure and mental work. Also, for a writer's block analogy, it's got to be one where there's no not going to work today because you don't feel like it. There's a few jobs that match that but the most obvious one to me is sportsman.

And lo and behold, sportsmen very publicly go through periods where everything they touch turns to crap - their own version of writers' block.

Which got me thinking (not that I ever really finished the thought) about whether there's any ideas we can steal from athletes on dealing with those times when our timing, our decisions, our everything is off. I haven't really, except for the idea of keep it simple and keep trying to do the things you know works, but there's one obvious stand out thing.

That is most sportsmen are part of a team. They have people to turn to, to give them advice, to encourage them, sometimes even bollock them. Sometimes we need hard truth.

As far as I can tell, most writers aren't part of a team day in day out. I know I'm not. I've got a lot of supportive friends but its very come and go. We're all busy. But for the last three weeks, I have been part of a team every day. It may be a very loose team but a team nonetheless. And my writing speed has never been better (we'll see how I feel about this once I've had to redraft it though...).

I'm not sure writers should be part of a team all the time. But the idea is worth exploring. More teamwork = more work done to me so far and I don't plan to stop just yet.