A Writer Writes

Take time out to reflect on your writing

What a month it has been, and so exciting! I finished the first draft of a new book, and I enjoyed writing it so much it was hard to let it go. I’m now just waiting to get feedback which is bound to be full of heart-sinking moments when I realise that a paragraph that I thought was brilliant isn’t at all, and it needs to be rewritten. It’s all part of the process, though, and I wouldn’t change it.

I learned a couple of new lessons with this book – ones that I’ve been subconsciously aware of, but have failed to really take note of in the past. I know that all writers have their own way of doing things so my quirks won’t apply to everybody, but maybe if you’re a writer too, they will give you pause for thought.

And that’s the key. Pause for thought.

When I write, I give myself a schedule. Nobody imposes it upon me, but I feel I have a duty to my readers to provide the next book within a reasonable time frame, and so I set myself targets. In the last few weeks, though, I’ve done a fair bit of sitting around in airports waiting for flights, and I realised that those boring hours when I have nothing else to do are often the times when I solve problems or come up with new ideas for whichever book I’m working on.

When my head is buried in delivering my daily word count it seems unreasonable to take time off to just sit and do nothing, but in many ways it’s the most productive part of the day. During my journeys, I solved an issue with one major plot point that had been bugging me, and during the second journey the idea for a terrific twist (well – at least I think so) just popped into my head.

Airport

The second lesson I learned about myself is that although I’ve always taken lots of notes and carried a notebook with me, ridiculous as it sounds the quality of the notebook and the pen or pencil I write with make a real difference to me. I currently have a ludicrously expensive notebook that I picked up in a hurry at an airport and nearly passed out at the price (although I’ve since found that they are double the price in a shop!). But I had no choice – my cheap notebook was full. I also chose one with inspirational text on the front ‘Expect the Unexpected’ – which always forces me to think.

Notebook

Somehow, this notebook feels like something that has to be cherished and, unlike the others which all end up in the bin when they are done, I’ll keep this one even when it’s full. The act of writing my thoughts on lovely paper is such a pleasure that often what starts as a one sentence idea becomes a paragraph simply because I’m enjoying the experience. I can add it straight into the book when I next sit in front of my computer.

So it’s an indulgence for me, but one that I think pays off. I’m not sure I can hang on until my next trip through Heathrow for a new notebook – that’s my only problem.

If you’re a writer, what little quirks have you discovered about yourself?

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