As anyone who’s asked about my writing recently will know, I’ve been going through a frustrating hiatus.

It’s down to lack of time, to some extent, but that’s not the main issue. It’s really about headspace.

Of course, if you want to teach creative writing, you should be a successful practitioner. By that I mean you should have had at least one book commercially published. (I say “commercially published” because that’s what most students of writing want to achieve. And while there are some fantastic self-published writers out there, the hard fact is that anyone can bung something on Am***n and call themselves an author, no matter how shocking the writing).

But the more time a writer spends looking at other people’s work, correcting, editing and making suggestions, the less time and headspace they have for their own creative writing. This creates something of an anomaly: how to do both.

I know the theory: get up early, so that you can write before anything else takes over your brain. Sorry, but I get up quite early already and as I still have the circadian rhythms of a teenager, it’s quite difficult enough to be functioning and coherent at 9am, let alone before then. I’m really much nicer after mid-day.

Okay, you say. Stay up later. I would – except I have to get up early in the mornings for work! I already work into the evenings so by the time I go to bed, my brain’s pretty fried. Often with other people’s shiz (sorry).

So… what’s the solution?

The annual holiday helped. After just 24 hours when I didn’t have to answer emails/social media or carry out niggling domestic tasks, I found myself freely writing a novel that I thought I may have to abandon. After a fortnight I had written 10,000 words and that still left me time to breathe, drink wine and eat too many tapas.

But it’s not possible to write a novel in two weeks a year and sadly, I can’t afford to be on holiday for longer than that. So what’s the solution?

The nice thing was how much I enjoyed getting back into writing, so I have to find a way to keep it up. I read a blog lately that claimed one can write a novel in a year by just scraping out 200 words a day. Two hundred! That’s nothing! And it works out. Even if I miss this risible goal on some of the days, I’ll end up with more than 70,000 words after 12 months.

I suppose it’s like the kitchen timer trick, too. If you promise yourself you only need to spend a short time on something, then it feels psychologically more achievable and you’re more likely to start (and keep going for longer).

So that’s the new goal. A mere 200 words a day. And if I can’t manage that, I’m giving up. I’ll keep you posted!