On the day after the Dublin City Marathon on the October bank holiday, newspapers were full of photos that showed the agony and the ecstasy of the runners, capturing the grit and determination of thousands of ordinary people who had achieved something extraordinary. But nobody completed this event without working towards it patiently and doggedly over months. The date was fixed, a goal was set, training schedules were devised. Training became non-negotiable. Putting on runners and heading out the door had to happen whether one felt like it or not.
In the same way the growth of a writer is the cumulative result of doing a little a lot. Regularly getting to the page or the screen, finding mini-projects to work on, deadlines that must be met, all make it much more likely that you will write and that you will develop as a writer.
This is also the time of year when certain wild animals hoard away food as a precaution against the scarcities of winter. In the same way it is good to develop the habit of squirreling away details and observations in notebooks. These are likely to provide a rich resource for future writing and are pleasurable to do. For example you might start a ‘Weather Notebook’. Here in Ireland there is no shortage of weather even if, thankfully, it’s not as extreme as it often is in other parts of the world. Pay attention to the sensual nature of what you’re experiencing. What are the smells, the light, the sounds? Write it down and date it. This is authentic material for you to draw on when you are writing something in November and need a detail that captures an evening in May.
So, tell me, what details have you squirreled away in your notebook today?