If you have a child under the age of 15, you’ve probably come across the ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ book.  The family find various obstacles as they hunt, and have to go through each one.   How does this relate to writing?

By Cressida Downing (Editorial Consultant)

If you’re getting serious about writing, and have started to set yourself targets, and a time to get writing each day, you are going to come across a day when writing just isn’t what’s on your mind.

I’m not talking about procrastination, but about the day when you have time to write, an inclination to write – but something is preoccupying you.  I call those the Bears.  It could be that you’re annoyed by someone or something, that you are really distracted by a strong emotion about an event, or just that there are other things on your mind.

There are two ways to address the Bear when you’re planning to write, you can either go round it – or go through it.  If you’re going to go ‘round it’, set your timer, promise yourself you’ll think about your Bear as much as you can after your writing slot, but for this time, it’s the book, the poem, the report.  When your mind wanders as you’re writing – keep a notebook to hand where you can just jot down any other Bear thoughts – and then get back to your work.

But writing has a great advantage over other work, you can also go ‘through’ your Bear.  Write about it.  Describe every fluffy-pawed, sharp-clawed, pointy-nosed, gripping-toed part of your Bear.  Go to town.  It may not have any bearing on the writing you’re supposed to be doing, but it’s all good practice. 

You may even find a piece of writing that can make it into your novel or story, but a word of warning – if you’ve got 200 fantastic biting words of fury about your neighbour’s parking habits, you may wish to change a few details before you put it forward for publication.  Don’t poke the Bear!