Penelope Lively, on Radio 4 last week to promote her new collection of short stories, her first for twenty years, remarked that you couldn’t just sit down and write a short story. You had to wait, she said, for them to come to you.

This reminded me of Pooh Bear, talking about poems. But it also reminded me of Stephen King, remarking that he only wrote when he was inspired (adding that he made sure he was inspired at 9.00am on a working day morning!)

Dickens showed a similar sense of focus. He allocated himself several hours of writing time…and took himself off to his workroom (apparently with the kids in tow sometimes) to see it out. If nothing ‘came’ to him, he would doodle, or whistle, or pace, but he wouldn’t give up trying to face down the blank page. Samuel Johnson, an altogether grimmer character I suspect, had already told us that, if a man wants to write he will do it if he sets himself doggedly to it!

It all goes to show that there are many ways to skin that white paper, and that widely divergent writers recognise, not only that, but also what a struggle it can be.

So perhaps now is the moment to put Penelope’s assertion to the test, and without waiting, take yourself off to your writing place……and write a short story….(or a poem). You know you can do it!

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