Where Have I Been?

How time flies. Yes, it really is two years since my last blog post! It’s hard to believe it, but I guess life gets in the way and little pleasures like blogging slip into the background. So what have I been doing?

A ‘Lockdown’ Life in the Day Of a Writer… 

A typical day for me starts with a very long walk with my cockapoo, Gracie. Regardless of the weather, we can be seen pacing the towpaths in Stroud, ambling along the disused railway line in South Cerney or Tetbury; or enjoying the shelter provided by a beautiful local woodland in my home town. Pre-lockdown, my walks would definitely have included a visit to a local coffee-shop, but over the last three months or so I tried to find circular walks so I wasn’t immediately turning around and heading back the way I’d come. Walking clears my head and allows me time to recalibrate. I love walking, and I’m certainly not a fair-weather walker – my FitBit acts as my conscience and forces me outdoors come-what-may! I also love taking photos on my iPhone – so if you’re interested in photos of the random things I see on my walks please head over to Instagram and check out my account @jakharrisonwriter

Here are a few images to whet your appetite 🙂 

Walking usually takes me up to lunchtime, where a few household chores are squeezed in before sitting down with my other half to enjoy lunch together. You can see where this is going… Generally, my day continues in this way until I realise that unless I head straight to my study and sit down I won’t manage to get any writing done. 

Interestingly, I, like many others, wrote a huge list of “things to do” during lockdown (bearing in mind we only thought it would last for three weeks initially). And like many others, I can reveal here and now, that if I managed to cross one thing off the list I felt it was a huge achievement. After speaking to many of my writer friends I can assure you I wasn’t the only one finding it hard to focus – you’d think with forced incarceration (since 23rd March 2020) I’d/they’d have been able to write/edit/publish several novels and be in a pretty good writing routine. But no. The human brain doesn’t work like that – well mine doesn’t – if you tell me to sit, I’ll stand up, tell me to write and I’ll find anything else to do other than write. But saying that it is reassuring to know that I’m not alone, it must be to do with being “creative”, and one thing creative types are good at, it’s being creative with time and tasks 🙂 So I’ve written more in the last few months, even though I’ve taken up weaving, which I’m thoroughly enjoying.  

Being an active member of a writing group is an excellent way of keeping focused and getting some much-appreciated feedback on my work. Currently, we are managing to meet up once a fortnight on Zoom, which means a fellow writer who moved to the Lake District can also join us.  Having the two-week schedule is brilliant when motivation is lacking.  I find it useful critiquing others’ work too; often a problem with someone else’s writing helps me iron out a similar issue in my own work.

As I write historical fiction, sometimes I can get lost in the research; I love researching even the smallest detail, and this can lead to amazing discoveries – for example, did you know that in 1844 an Act of Parliament required “the provision of at least one train a day each way at a speed of not less than 12 miles an hour including stops, which were to be made at all stations, and of carriages protected from the weather and provided with seats; for all which luxuries not more than a penny a mile might be charged.” Or that Stroud Scarlet cloth (used in 19th-century military uniforms) was exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851? This might be of little interest generally, but my first book, Restless: A Novella, included both of these details (separately) within the first few chapters. At the time of writing, I had no idea that when I’d write book two the main characters would head off to Stroud and end up at the same mill that made and dyed the cloth scarlet, which was subsequently exhibited at the exhibition. Fantastic!

If you’re lacking motivation at the moment – whether it’s writing, weaving/crafting, or generally trying to find time to do the things you love, don’t be hard on yourself. Everyone is struggling and trying to find their “new normal”. Maybe try something new, go for a long walk, or meet up with friends either on Zoom or irl (we can do that now in England – socially distanced of course), it might help kickstart your work-in-progress (whatever that is). 

See you on the other side ♥️