The Highs and Lows of a Daily Writing Habit – 2013 #11

My daughter having fun at her third birthday. Was it really a year ago?

My daughter having fun at her third birthday. Was it really a year ago?

It’s day 11 of my 2013 challenge to write an instalment of my novel every single day and I’m starting to notice some unexpected side effects of having a Daily Writing Habit. Last year I wrote only on the days the children were at nursery, 2 or 3 days a week. As I discussed in guest post Always Writing I usually have my novel in my head but know that I can’t sit down every day to actually write because it would result in me ignoring my husband and kids too much.

I thought I would do more or less the same with the daily challenge – write most of it on nursery days and just do the blog entries daily. I didn’t allow for how the idea would set my brain alight.

Side Effects of a Daily Writing Habit:

Sleep (or lack thereof): I haven’t slept properly since 1st Jan. My mind is racing all the time with things to do: either things to write at the top of the next blog post, pictures to include, bits of dialogue for Claire’s next chapter, or things that haven’t been done around the house, like laundry, ironing, boot washing, dog feeding, dinner cooking, hovering, physiotherapy exercises, birthday party prep… The list is endless. The result is that I sleep for two hours at a time, wake up exhausted, and so it goes on.

Effervescence: I’m constantly fizzing with a need to sit down & write. Although, due to the previous point, it’s actually more like the buzzing of a dozy fly against a window than the sparkle of bubbly champagne. The short instalments are addictive: writing 500-1000 words and then editing it is very different to a normal first-draft-stream-of-consciousness-write-10,000-words-in-a-go experience. I find I like the finished nature of each post, it is very satisfying, like publishing a short story every day.

Enthusiastic Fear: People are reading my blog, liking posts, following me. I’ve had more visits and likes this year so far than in the whole of the last quarter. I’m scared and excited at the same time. I feel a responsibility to do Claire and the story justice.

Self-Doubt: When I first pitched my idea to my husband on 30th December he was concerned that a daily blog would put too much pressure on my already strained resources of patience, energy and sleep. Now he’s enjoying the novel he thinks it’s a great idea and I’m the one with doubts. I’m worried it’s taking over my life and putting Writer above Mummy. That isn’t acceptable.

Hopefully it will all settle down soon and I’ll find a balance. I have to: I have a Jungle-themed birthday party to organise for an amazing little girl who has talked about her next party every day since she turned three, 354 days ago. Now that’s a consistent daily blog…


Claire looked round the empty apartment and fought a wave of self-pity. The YHA / Coca Cola assignment had been hard enough to swallow when she thought it was intended to help her get on the Board of AJC. Now she knew, or at least suspected, that it was a ploy to get her to resign the whole thing made her miserable.

I’m good at my job. I landed that Vodafone account, and the Birds Eye one. Not to mention the twenty other clients I’ve acquired since the beginning of last year. How dare Carl do this to me?

Feeling the fire of anger burn away the pity, Claire got up from where she had been curled into the leather sofa and went to the kitchen to make an espresso.

Drat, of course, the espresso machine was mine. I’ve boxed the darn thing up.

The removals men had been put-out to discover Claire didn’t have Tetley tea or milk or anything useful to make them a ‘brew’. They’d hauled her boxes down the flights of stairs to the street, paying no attention to Claire’s yelps of concern as they man-handled her shoe collection and the box containing her precious espresso machine.

Claire looked at her watch. 11.30am on a Monday morning. I should be at work. This is just wrong Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Carl had told her to take the week off before starting her assignment, to give her a chance to sort out her affairs, empty the flat, give back the company car. It felt like she’d been put on Gardening Leave.

Or maybe it takes most people more than a drunken Sunday evening to box up their whole life? Perhaps with hindsight it was stupid to agree to the removals men coming on Monday. What am I going to do in an empty apartment with no espresso machine for a whole week? There’s only so much Earl Grey a girl can drink.

Claire grabbed her bag and headed for the door. I need coffee. She walked the five minutes to her nearest Starbucks and gratefully ordered a skinny latte, realising she’d missed breakfast. Before long she was encased in her favourite chair, looking out the window at the people rushing by. Claire sipped her coffee and tried to formulate a plan to survive until Friday, when she would be checking into the Berwick YHA. Thinking beyond that point gave her a headache.

God forbid but I might just have to go see my parents.

The coffee cup was empty too soon and Claire looked around for something to fill another hour. Failing to find anything she decided to head to Deansgate for some retail therapy.

Claire wandered aimlessly along the street for an hour before she realised there was no fun shopping when you knew you weren’t going to be able to wear or carry your purchases for weeks. What was the point in giving in to the allure of the strappy heels that had called from one shop, or the beautiful dress that had yelled from another, when her trip to the Maldives was so far away? Still, a need to spend burned deep in Claire’s throat and she walked back and forth trying to find somewhere to wield her plastic.

She stopped outside a shop that had never registered on her radar before, due largely to the window display of hiking boots, camping gear and anoraks. The mere sight of all that healthy outdoor stuff made her want to head for the nearest Spa. Now, though, it seemed the only place where she could shop with a clear conscience. Shrugging her shoulders Claire thought what the hell and pushed open the door.

The interior was more crowded than Canal Street on a Saturday night. Racks of blue and grey clothing crowded round her while rucksacks that could eat hers for breakfast climbed the walls and loomed ominously. Along the back, row upon row of aggressive boots marched up in formation. Claire was about to back out when a young voice hailed her from the depths of the store.

It wasn’t immediately clear where the voice had come from until a man emerged from between the rows of clothes. Claire looked up into a tanned and handsome face. Gleaming white teeth shone from smooth, snoggable lips. Wavy blonde hair bounced above an attractive face while sea-blue eyes twinkled at her in welcome.

“You alright there?”

His voice did disturbing things to Claire’s tummy.

“Er, Um.” Claire looked at him helplessly, fighting the urges his proximity was raising in her midriff.  He grinned, whether at her discomfort or out of friendliness Claire couldn’t tell. She looked around vaguely, trying to find a purpose for being there.

“Er, I’m er, going hostelling.”

The man gave her a glance that suggested he’d heard more believable urban myths but his smile didn’t falter. “That’s awesome. Where are you off to? Going Walkabout? To The East? Over the Pond?”

Claire looked confused. As far as she knew The Walkabout was a bar on Quay Street, The East a Chinese Takeaway over on Faulkner Street and she didn’t think she knew any ponds, although wasn’t there another Takeaway over in Salford called Pond something?

“No, not eating out. Hostelling.” Claire wondered if maybe hostelling was actually some kind of student slang for getting pissed and eating take-out. “You know, travelling?”

They stared at each other in mutual confusion before the shop assistant gave in first. “What country will you be traveling in?”

“The UK. I have to visit every YHA in England and Wales as part of my job.”

“Ah, you won’t want much camping kit then. Pretty tame country and the hostels are all mod-con, not much need for a Billy or an Esky.”

Again Claire looked at the man as if he were speaking a different language. She guessed from his accent that he was from Australia or New Zealand and wondered if he was talking Maori or Aborigine.  She nodded, hoping that was the right response, and gave him a smile. Feeling something more was required she added, “I have a rucksack and a Maglite.”

“Well that’s a good start. What about a soft-fibre towel, washing line, travel wash bag, ear plugs, sleep mask, sleeping bag, waterproof coat, hiking shoes or winter boots?” As he said the last items he glanced down at what she had thought of as her sensible shoes – her black leather Gucci pumps with the 1 inch heel – with a slight raise of an eyebrow.

Half an hour later Claire left the shop with a smile as large as the shopping bag bashing her hip. On her feet were her favourite purchase, although the man had said they weren’t really necessary in England. Still, the Helly Hansen Eir Boots had been a bargain at £130 and they really were very comfortable.


5 thoughts on “The Highs and Lows of a Daily Writing Habit – 2013 #11

  1. Amanda,

    Thank you so much for adding me as a related article.

    I did a challenge last year (A to Z) and I honestly thought it was going to do me in by the end of the challenge! I am a stay-at-home dad and understand the difficulties that can present themselves when trying to find time management. It was a huge part of why I wrote the post you listed.

    I have to admit you have a flair for writing and should definitely continue to work on your story.

    Aaron 🙂

    • Thanks Aaron (that’s my son’s name!). I think you’re very brave being a stay-at-home Dad – it’s often harder for men when they’re invited to Mummy and Baby groups etc. My husband is looking for work at the moment and I keep offering to go back to work so he can stay home with the children – he goes pale at the thought!
      I very much enjoyed reading your blog, thank you for popping by. Amanda

  2. Pingback: What one writer has learned so far about her 2013 daily writing challenge | onewildword

  3. Pingback: 7 Harsh Truths that Claire’s Stories Are Teaching You~by CountOmen | The Write Stuff

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