My failed writing experiment


At the beginning of May I committed to write every day for 30 minutes throughout the month. I imagined one of my many notebooks filled with words supplied within the 930 minutes this time was affording me. Time that I had sidelined from family and spousal commitment. I imagined that by 31 May my family would understand how committed I was to my art and my hobby would be validated by me and everyone else. I imagined my June, picking through my filled notebooks transporting choice phrases and character creations to my novel.

But here I am at the end of May having only managed to write for 10 days, seven in the first week. I have grief for the unwritten words and thoughts that have never made it into my consciousness. I haven’t started my novel and I am nowhere near convincing myself that writing is seriously something that I can do or convincing others that I want to do it.

When it came down to it I have failed. Lockdown during Covid19 has given me the precious gift of time and I have spent it scrolling through Facebook, checking the Guardian website every half an hour to gleefully hoover up news of Tory failings, and half watching box sets. I am such a failure at concentrating that I can’t even binge a whole series. I can pretend that I have used the lockdown to really connect with family and my husband, to hone my meditation practice and to plan a wonderful future but the truth is that I have slept walked through it.

The only positive thing I have done in the last ten weeks is deliver a talk to the local Green Party on running an ethical and green business. I loved doing that, both the preparation and the delivery, and it should have spurred me into elevating my time spending. However as soon as it was over, and my family didn’t seem interested in the fact that I had been called an inspiration by my colleagues (in fact my family gently mocked me) I returned to my sloth state. As I have said before I need validation — and only that from my children and my husband counts.

I think that my problem has been that I over-committed, pledging that I would publish whatever I wrote at the end of every 30 minutes — this meant that I was exposing indifferent and unedited writing to a new audience. (And I think I have mentioned that I need validation.) So then I decided to write in 30 minute bursts but only publish when polished. But that felt like cheating from my original objective. There is no denying I have failed — failed at #maywriteabit, failed to produce material, failed to dazzle, failed to win a new audience.

I know that I am being hard on myself and I might reflect on this time again more generously and realise that I was suffering, as with many others, of lockdownivitus. But at the moment I am filled with self loathing and have little self respect.

I am not going to end this negatively. I have managed a 34 day streak on Duolingo and have to admit that I am reading and understanding comprehension stories about losing glasses in restrooms without having to translate the words into English. I have started to fall in love with our ancient boat (all bits that could be detached were removed to our home the week before lockdown for sanding and varnishing) and have even voluteered to join in — just at the point that my husband’s interest has wained and he has announced he is finding it overwhelming. My main achievement is that after weeks of not being able to concentrate on reading I have succumbed to the effortless joy of listening to books on Audible. Chick lit is my friend during the waking hours between 3 and 5.30 am.

So what next? — I am going to try the Writer’s HQ Couch to 5k words throughout June. So by the end of June I might have written 5k words of a novel or I could be sitting with another empty new notebook, writing another reflection piece on writing failure on Medium!

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