My day job is teaching creative writing at the Open University. So like many teachers and academics I am a tiny bit like a child, in that I measure out my life in terms and school holidays. (Possibly in other ways as well, such as being institutionalized and inclined to stare out of the window...)
Also, my allegedly adult children are now at uni, so this is a time of persuading them to register for their course, paying accommodation fees, and driving them to the far corners of England (Nottingham and Liverpool) so they can be institutionalized there and stare out of their own new windows, killing time.
As a writer, it's good to feel that there are new beginnings, and as the Life of the Mind is pretty formless, left to itself, the whole Back to School thing can be quite therapeutic. Here are five autumnal tips for this annual rebooting:
1. Declutter. You may not have a school uniform to put on, but it's useful to clear the decks, make sure your filing system isn't collapsing on your desk or crowding out your brain.
2. Organise Check out any writerly deadlines that are coming up, such as competitions, calls for submissions or open mic events. (BBC Short Story Alert! Check out this link for more information.)
3. Take some exercise. Being a writer needn't mind living a life that is sedentary to a toxic degree. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up, clearly ahead of his time. Go for a walk, run, swim, waddle - anything to get out of the house and get moving. Take a notebook or your phone and make notes as you go. If walking as an aid to writing was good enough for Virginia Woolf, it is good enough for me.
4. Do it. Yesterday I wrote 800 words entirely by accident. Just doing it frees up loads of time that is wasted in procrastination, and leaves more space for the day job. Joking about the tasks you get done while not Doing It is futile. No one needs the backs of their radiators to be dust-free.
5. READ. Find the best book you can, and lose yourself in it. I am re-reading 'Wide Sargasso Sea' by Jean Rhys and it is totally inspiring.