To Write or Not To Write

Writing 101, Day 9: Writing and not writing

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Considering I am currently a week behind most on the Writing 101 course, I guess I fall safely into the category of ‘little time to write’ as opposed to the ‘I need a break from my full-time writing schedule’ category. I wish I did fall into the latter group of full-time writers – writers whose dedication and commitment to their practice requires them to set multiple alarms to remind them when to eat, go pee and just, well, live – those writers who write so often that it’s hard to tell where human ends and keyboard begins… I hope, one day, that is me. (The writing often part, not the physically merging into my keyboard bit…)

Cheri at WordPress asks those of us struggling to find the time to write to consider these questions:

If you could step into a machine that gave you more time, how would you structure your day? 

I am currently experiencing a busy period of my life, one which I hope will begin to settle somewhat in the New Year. This year has seen us prepare for our big move to the other side of the world in January. Due to the timings of lease ends and availability of rentals in Oxfordshire, we have had three temporary house moves in the last three months, have a fourth this weekend, and then a fifth move which will take me home to Manchester where I will spend Christmas and New Year with friends and family, all before the final move to Australia in 2016. With this in mind, I would certainly like to use a time machine, if only to tackle the mundane to-do list that comes with packing up your life. With the extra time, I would use my evenings to indulge in my favourite pastimes with more regularity rather than fleetingly. Some of those include; cooking, yoga, sketching, meditation and writing, (and hopefully dog walking, once I can convince my partner that a puppy called Spencer is exactly what we need in our lives!)

What would you write with this extra time?

For a start, I would keep on top of this Writing 101 course, making sure that I complete the daily prompts daily and not every four to five days as I have been doing. I also have a burning desire to bring my children’s book series to life, a long standing idea of mine which I am eager to finally bring to fruition, if only for myself and my own sanity. I wish to write a book to help others to heal through adversity and pain. I would quite like to explore poetry a little more since I found it to be extremely therapeutic during the recent Poetry 101 course. Finally, I’d like to begin to use this blog for the purpose that it was created; letters to my Dad xx

How do you free up time to write during times of upheaval or change?

My Writing Haven

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Writing 101, Day 6: The space to write

Today’s prompt asks:

  • What are your writing habits?
  • What equipment or supplies do you use to write?
  • What do you need and want in a physical space?

I am really quite old fashioned at heart. I prefer books to Kindles (I was kindly bought a Kindle as a gift, and admittedly, I used it once on holiday and returned it to the box as soon as I arrived home. It has remained there ever since.) Even if it means carrying an extra few kilos of volumes in my luggage, I’d much rather have a real book in hand than a piece of electronic equipment.

The same goes for my writing practice. I have journals and notepads galore! I just can’t get enough of them and am a bit of a geek when it comes to shopping. Mostly, you will find me in the stationary isles. I love the unique design of each, I’m usually drawn to pastels and neutral colours, with designs that incorporate birds, flowers and nature. The crisp white pages invite me to fill the blank spaces in a way that the laptop just doesn’t ignite. I can, however, see the benefits of electronic writing; it allows for easy editing and takes up less space thanks to the invention of hard drives. But there’s something about the thought of discovering the original works of writers, in the early, raw stages of production that inspires me. Many poets, such as Wordsworth and Shelley, left behind extracts of original works that evolved and changed over time, extracts that are still able to be viewed by the public today. When a piece is handwritten, it arrives at the page straight from the heart; raw and unedited, regardless of how many times it has been crossed out or altered and changed. Watching it evolve is part of the process. Often with word processing, we see only the edited, perfected piece at the end, minus the struggles, alterations and changes it took to arrive there. Each time we hit ‘save’, we lose part of the manner in which the piece unfolded and matured. For that reason, I much prefer to use my pen and type it up later; to cross out, to insert arrows or an asterix, so that I can remember the journey and not just the destination.

I’m also quite privy to a Parker. I was first bought a Parker pen when I was eleven, it was a black fountain pen with blue ink cartridges (I much prefer blue ink to black, and tend to only use black when a form requests it.) I loved the way it felt in my hand, the way the ink glided over paper, I felt so grown up. My handwriting was never quite the same when I used other pens, and equally, none of my friends at school could write neatly using my pen! It was like it was made for my hand. I still use a Parker pen today, although I have moved on since the days of my fountain pen. My partner bought me a silver ball point Parker which I simply love.

In terms of my writing space, I just need peace. A quiet space in which I can connect with my heart and my pen. I like to gather ideas and inspiration from my surroundings, conversations with people, walks and solo missions, travels near and far; but once I have gathered this information, I need a peaceful environment to retreat to. If it’s a little noisy at home, I’ll put on some classical music in the background to get me in the zone. If it’s a nice day, I will take my notepad and pen outside to write, surrounded by the beauty of nature. Otherwise, I sit in my comfy armchair in my bedroom as I am doing now. Or on the bed. I do own a writers bureau, which I love. But as much as I love having a writer’s desk in my room to house my stationary, I rarely sit at it. Simply because there’s something about sitting at a desk that reminds me of when I was a child at school, when we were expected to sit and work, or of the time I was employed in an office and I was required to sit at a desk. Whenever I sit at a desk to write, it suddenly feels like a chore. I much prefer to be comfy so that my writing is inspired rather than forced.

So there you have it! My writing habits. What are yours?