On the premise that you can’t edit a blank page, get something written down. If you’re experiencing the same kind of angst as me – too much to do and not enough time to do it in – consider this piece of advice I read a while ago: if you gave up just one of your soaps every evening and concentrated on writing something instead you would have the best part of a novel by the end of the year. Now, I’m no-one to talk, I’m a sucker for quiz programmes and whodunits myself, but there is some merit in the idea.
Now that we’ve got the writing venue settled, do we need any particular tools?
If you use a computer or a word processor – yes, I still have one in the cupboard under the stairs. An unwise purchase that was upgraded to the PC I swore I didn’t need almost as soon as it was out of the box – do you have favourite fonts or size of typeface? Some fonts seem to lend themselves to particular styles of writing. I usually write in 10-point Verdana, but I’ve been through my Comic Sans MS (humorous writing) and Arial (reports and reviews) phases too.
Does it matter where you write? Do you have a special place where the words flow more freely, or can you scribble away in front of the television? Can you write amongst chaos, or do you need privacy and absolute silence? Is music forbidden, or do you like the comfort of the radio twittering away to itself in a distant room?
Is the spare bedroom your private hideaway, or does the kitchen table suffice? Does the literary muse stubbornly refuse to descend until you’re huddled in the cupboard under the stairs, or sitting in bed with your laptop and a cup of tea?
When I first started writing seriously I wrote longhand, with my special Mont Blanc rollerball, on pads of unlined A4 paper. I transferred the completed pages onto computer, using this process as my first edit. I found it difficult to write directly onto the computer; it was as if the keyboard created a barrier to my imagination. But after I’d finished this copying out in best I would be deep into the story and I’d often carry on typing without a problem. Gradually I dispensed with the paper and pen.
Computers have their good points: I can still remember the rapture I felt when I discovered the synonym facility (I’m easily pleased). At my age I’m often at a loss for the precise, apposite word and stopping to look it up in the Thesaurus breaks my concentration. Imagine having this resource quite literally at my finger tips!
However, it isn’t foolproof and sometimes it doesn’t deliver quite what I want. In these instances, I use the first word that presents itself, highlight it in a different colour and move on. The colour serves as a reminder, I don’t lose my flow, and the word will come, eventually.
P.S. I carry a notebook with me at all times, so the expensive biro is still pressed into service.
A Slight Change of Pace…..
After the hurly-burly of the NaNo challenge, the deep, deep peace of writing for pleasure beckons once again. Whether it’s editing something already written or beginning an entirely new piece of work, there’s nothing quite like taking up a pen or sitting at a keyboard and losing oneself in the creative process.