Finding Allies - Claire Scobie
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Finding Allies

Finding Allies

If you are anything like me, you’ll find many excuses not to write. Even vacuuming can be a good distraction when I have a looming deadline. To tackle this common affliction, I came across a good writing exercise by novelist Louise Doughty. Like all the best exercises, it was a hand-down from another writer.

Finding Allies_160710You make two lists: one for your Allies, one for your Enemies. My Allies might include earl grey tea, a two-hour block of uninterrupted time, my comfortable office chair. Your Allies might range from your favourite pen to a pad of handmade paper and a skinny latte. It’s good to choose Allies you actually have around you, rather than those you wish for.

Then you draw up a list of Enemies: your partner, your children, even your darling pooch might be on this. You love them all dearly but when it comes to writing, even your best friend can be an enemy. Obviously I’m not suggesting you get rid of them, but this exercise is a chance to think creatively how to carve out writing time for you. What invitation are you willing to turn down in order to squeeze in an hour with your laptop? Colm Tóibín went so far as to only allow his children to slide notes under his study door when working on his latest award-winning novel Brooklyn.

Then put your Enemies list away in you drawer (so as not to offend said family members), and stick up the list of your Allies by your desk to keep inspiring you to get on.. and write.

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