Discussions,Writing Advice

Week One – The Maeve Binchy Writers’ Club

Welcome to the first weekly instalment of The Maeve Binchy Writers’ Club read-along. 🎉 (I’m not sure if “read-along” is the correct word to use in this instance since it is just me but I’m just going to stick with it for now.)

The Maeve Binchy Writers' Club book cover

Maeve Binchy was an Irish novelist who wrote slice-of-life stories mostly set in Dublin. In 2008, she also published a book called The Maeve Binchy Writers’ Club, inspired by a course run by the National College of Ireland and made up of writing advice in the form of 20 weekly letters.

In this weekly series, which I aim to run for the next 20 weeks and ending mid-January 2023, I will focus on the letter from that week in the book.

This will hopefully have a two-fold effect in that it will help me to become a better writer and editor, and also provide insight and helpful advice to others seeking information on the craft of writing.

If you would like to add any suggestions or advice for the next instalment, my comments are always open.

Week One _ Getting Started

Maeve’s first letter talks about getting started as a writer.

If you’re a writer, you’ll know this is often the hardest part of writing. Writers can come up with any number of excuses for why don’t have time to write.

Maeve says “Writing is a bit like going on a diet; you should either tell everyone or tell no one.”

If you tell no one, you can’t be expected to have a new book or story by a certain date. On the other hand, if you don’t tell anyone, you can surprise them with your completed book or story.

However, if you do tell everyone, at every turn, people will ask you for updates. To save face, you’ll be forced to actually get down to the work of putting words on paper.

Consider this post my “telling everyone” so I expect to be held accountable. 😬

Making Time to Write – One Hour a Day

Between work, school, kids, housework, cooking, and running errands, how can you find time to write?

Maeve says “Time doesn’t appear from nowhere.” This means that you have to be willing to give up something in another area of your life to free up just one hour a day dedicated to your writing. Whether that’s something like hanging out with friends, watching the latest series on Netflix, or (horror of horrors) sleep!

To be honest, this is something I struggle with. I’m privileged in that I work from home, I have a pretty flexible schedule, and I have no kids. But still, it is hard to give up my sleep and I often have one eye on Netflix playing in the background during the day.

However, I am committed to making this blog and my other online endeavours a success so I’m going to start training my body to wake up at 5am and get to work!

Maeve’s Tip

To end the first weekly letter, Maeve suggests keeping all your writing things together: computer, laptop, notebooks, pens, and research.

Whether this is in a separate room or study (if only we were all so lucky!), or just a dedicated space at a desk or table, you should aim to cut as much time-wasting as possible from your writing routine.

Tip #2 from Maeve is to block out time on your calendar for writing and note how many pages you expect to get done in that free hour.

Make sure anyone you live with knows that this time is sacred and no interruptions will be accepted.

😅 Maeve was clearly brutal when it came to carving out writing time. But I appreciate how protective she was of her time and her goals and I suppose all writers have to be that way to get anything done!

I hope this instalment was informative and helpful. In next week’s instalment, we will talk about Writers’ Groups!

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