As the summer comes to an end, Prime Writer Jason Hewitt (Devastation Road, Scribner UK and Little, Brown US) is preparing for a productive season.
Regardless of whether you have children or not the beginning of September still seems to mark a shift. Perhaps it is the drawing in of the nights that draws in our focus or the autumnal drop in temperature that heralds a change in pace…
I don’t have children but September still marks a turning point. I am a certified sun-worshipper and I find it hard to focus on my writing during those heady summer days when I can be outside doing something more fun. September, however, is when the guilt finally becomes so much that I have no choice but to pull a chair up to my desk and knuckle down again. This year the sense of being ‘Back to School’ has been stronger than ever in that I run creative workshops for secondary school classes at the British Library and so, after the holiday lull, these crank into gear again; and – like Katherine Clements – I am quite literally going back to school as well. I have started a short teaching course at Oxford Brookes University. I resisted the urge to buy a new pencil case for it but the first day nerves still kicked in.
In amongst all of this I am writing my third novel. My most productive writing months are always September through to March when there is less temptation to be doing something else. I also find it easier to write during the months that the story is set. It requires one less leap of imagination, which when you already holding a fictional story, location, period and set of characters in your head can really ease the strain. My new novel is set in the cold depths of winter so in terms of the above I really am on a timer. Then there is also the small matter of a January deadline. This, I suppose, is my equivalent of homework – albeit on a much more terrifying scale. As the days get shorter then and the darkness crowds in, it’s time to settle myself down, pull out a notebook and sharpen my pencils. I might just need that new pencil case, after all.