Writer 8

Day 8 of the bid to write a blog post a day throughout May and the first time the original schedule has been abandoned.

IT will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me or regular readers of this blog that this May madness is relying heavily on a a couple of lists.

One has been sitting, largely ignored but slowly growing with extra entries, for ages. A load of potential posts for the travel writing website this was set up to be and background tasks to improve the site.

And the list – and accompanying Google Doc – which acts as a calendar for my life.

The two combined before starting this to sketch out a writing plan for the first 20 days of the month – we’ve had some A-Z music posts, previewed my trip to South America and looked at overlanding.

More of all of those to come, plus some more general travel pieces covering more conventional travel. You know, the type where you fly to your destination, stay in a hotel and pay somebody else who knows what they are doing to sort your food for you.

One of those was supposed to be today’s post, but eight days in, time to change the schedule.

Before starting this, the main concern was running out of things to write (part of the reason for that plan of action) but that has not been a problem.

Been pleasantly surprised that it has flowed pretty easily – if not always in the expected direction – once breaking through the hurdle of the first couple of paragraphs, which normally have plenty of time to mull over. That normally dictates the whole direction and tempo of the article.

It has actually been refreshing to write without too much of a structured plan of how it will hang together and, reading back a couple of the pieces from the past week, it struck me how different they were to what was expected.

That is particularly rewarding as part of the reason for doing this was to get back in the flow of writing before heading to South America (don’t worry, it will not be daily until September, but will be more regular than it has been for a while).

Don’t want to sound pretentious by saying that it was an exercise to find my voice, but that has been a sort of side effect.

Spend much of my working life going through other people’s writing, tweaking, polishing and (in extreme cases) ripping up and starting again, all to a certain amount of pre-set rules and styles.

And it can be difficult to break away from those constraints when writing away from work, practice makes imperfect if you like.

Have rarely in recent years written as regularly as when away on lengthy trips and it is interesting to re-read the posts Africa and notice a gradual change in flow, in style, in pace, in colour.

Nothing major, but compare pieces written in the latter half of the trip, say Zimbabwe, with some of the early pieces and there is more of me in there, less of the constraints of reporting. And by doing it, probably providing a more accurate report of that part of the world.

Certainly writing the pieces became easier and more natural.

The problem of time did not really exist in Africa. There were no deadlines, no need to write if there was something better to do and always time somewhere to take myself off and lose myself in writing – my escape mechanism if you like.

Even when travelling, you need to get away every so often.

Time has been the biggest hurdle to this bout of writing. Between work, gym and a few vital other parts of life – food, shopping, rugby – there has not been a great amount.

So instead of getting everything sorted early in the evening and, potentially, the next post started before bed, it is well into the evening (think second half of the football) before start typing.

And that’s what did for the original plan for today, just a lack of time. It probably needed a bit more, even a bit of fact checking. Just did not have the time.

That and the fact leant my niece the guide book needed to check those facts.

So we’ll get there, tomorrow should not be too bad.

And maybe might not wander off on quite so many tangents.

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