Hygge for Writers

The past year has been the same as every other year: a mixture of good and bad. At one point I made the mistake of thinking, and even more dangerously, saying out loud, that my life was running smoothly with everything going well. I don’t believe in tempting fate, but I did regret those words when the next challenge came and hit me in the face, as inevitably it would.

In terms of writing, I have secured an agent but, as yet, no publisher. I am half way through the second draft of my next novel and, if I wasn’t frightened of tempting fate again, I’d say it was going pretty well.

As always, reading books has seen me through. If I can’t find solace in literature, then I know I’m in a bad way. That and painting my nails. I only paint my nails when I’m miserable so if you see me with coloured nails, be gentle with me.

One of the books I enjoyed reading this year was The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell. It takes a look at the Danish way of life from the viewpoint of a journalist who tries it out first hand and examines why it is that Danish people prove to be so unanimously happy. Nowadays, you can’t open a magazine or enter a bookshop or buy a candle without coming across advice on how to get Hygge. Here, then, are my own top five personal remedies for combating life’s stresses and strains.

  1. Light a fire.
  1. Paint your nails.
  1. Buy something nice.
  1. Read a book.
  1. Write a novel.

Wait a minute. Isn’t writing a novel painstakingly difficult? Yes, exactly, it is. You will tie yourself in knots writing a novel. You will find yourself wrestling with problems so obscure, so arbitrary and so utterly pointless you are guaranteed to be taken far away from the rest of your life. Your novel is your constant companion – it goes everywhere with you. It clings to you and demands attention and it will occasionally reward your care with glorious, sudden insights at the least expected moments, such as when you’re squeezing onto a crowded train or stirring the gravy. It’s not hygge but it’s something better. It’s torture. I highly recommend it.

Happy Christmas everyone.

My beloved hygge writing corner

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3 Responses to Hygge for Writers

  1. Linda S says:

    As always, most enjoyable blog.
    I haven’t tried lighting a fire yet – that’ll be one for 2017, if needed 🙂
    Hope 2017 is your writing breakthrough year.
    Merry Christmas!

    • claudia says:

      I fear it is too warm for a fire, Linda, this Christmas. Never mind. I hope you have a lovely Christmas and that a well deserved writing breakthrough in the new year comes to you. x

  2. Andy Wilson says:

    I have several different hats for when I read fiction. Firstly is my escape hat, by which I mean the hat that allows me to immerse myself into the world created by the writer. This is usually my hat of choice for travel and can be really useful on long journeys on noisy or crowded trains. The sort of stuff I read in these situations is often something plucked out at random from the thriller shelves of the nearest secondhand book shop.

    If it’s a book I’ve sought out because it was recommended to me, or because I particularly want to read it, I sometimes wear my escapist hat but often I alternative between that and my upskilling hat, which is a hat that enables be to critically assess the writing, and hopefully improve my own writing skills as a result. I sometimes take notes, but this is more the exception than the rule. I home in on all the basics: voice, plot and character development, authenticity and accuracy. With the latter, I’m a stickler for details. If someone describes a scene supposedly set in the Canadian Arctic during winter, I don’t expect it to sound like a stroll in the Pentlands on a fine day in January! In the era of the internet, research has never been easier so there isn’t much of an excuse for not getting basic details right. I think the readers appreciate it too.

    I also play a game where I imagine how I might have written the story differently, without altering the basic plot too much.

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