Are you the sort of person who listens to music that reflects your current mood and reads novels that imitate your life, or do you prefer your listening and reading choices to challenge the status quo? I’m certainly in the former camp: I want mournful music when I’m anxious or depressed; uplifting tunes when I’m happy. I don’t want to be cajoled out of my sulk; I want to wallow. My reading material has to mirror my current frame of mind and, if I’m going through a particularly blue period, it should suggest an escape, or a way forward.
Committing thoughts to diaries and journals is an established method of exorcising our demons. Writing negative feelings on a sheet of paper, wrapping it round a stone and throwing it into the sea or off a cliff is still a popular way of ridding ourselves of bad vibes, so could the same effect be gained from writing fiction? Just as we use reading novels and listening to music as therapy, can we use writing to ease the kinks out of our lives? Continue reading →
Writing is quite a solitary experience. Even when you’re writing in a library or crowded coffee shop you’re not exactly inviting people to sit down and chat. You don’t want to be interrupted, torn from your story and required to make conversation; all you want to do is explore that really important plot development you’ve just thought up. The folk on your wavelength give you a wide berth, appreciating your need to be alone. And you’re grateful for the solitude.
So why is it that after a long day with only the notebook or keyboard for company, you feel exhausted, intellectually drained, fit only for an evening vegetating in front of the television? Continue reading →
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.
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.