One of my concerns when I was anticipating coming away for this writing retreat was that I might not be “in the mood” for writing, that I might sit up here in solitary splendour on the top of a mountain, and wait in vain for the muse. But I have discovered something very useful.
When you set off for work every day, do you say to yourself, “Well, I’m not really in the mood for this teaching/accountancy/bus-driving/whatever today, so I don’t think I’ll bother”? No, of course not – few people have that luxury. And being on a writing retreat, it turns out, is like having writing as a job. Every morning I wake up and get on with writing because that’s what I am here to do – my current job is to write the first draft of a novel, and it just has to be done, regardless of “mood”.
But when I am at home, fitting my writing in between my real life, I do ask myself whether I am actually in the mood – and if I’m not, I don’t start. On reflection, I think this is a mistake. From now on, when I put a writing day in my diary, that’s what it will be: my mood will be immaterial, because I won’t even ask myself about it. I’ll just start writing – because if I can do it every day for a month, I can certainly do it for a single day, afternoon or even hour.