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Friday, 21 March 2014

How do you write? (Part II)


 
I went to a thatched cottage in Berkshire last weekend with writing friends. The cottage, in a village was reached by single-track lanes and the Sat Nav of course didn’t take me to the right address so I spent twenty minutes driving up and down the village, until a kind lady walking her dog gave me directions.

This cottage was so remote that when I woke at three o’clock on Saturday morning, an owl hooted outside my window. When I sat down to write at a desk with the above view, a woodpecker was hanging off the birdfeeder. The four of us were immersed in a kind of Disney writer’s paradise. Between us, we brought several bottles of wine and we crammed the fridge with enough food to last us a week. At lunchtimes, we ate cold meats and salads outside (thanks to Jules for bringing all that wonderful stuff!) with fresh bread as if we were in Tuscany or the South of France. In the evenings, we met at the distressed wooden table in a kitchen lit by fairy lights and candles.

Some of us wrote more than others. I’m at a stage with book 2, 'The Painting' where I need to plan and handwrite scenes with pen and paper. By Sunday evening, I couldn’t claim to have written several thousand words (like Jules, who wrote 6000!), but I came home ready to dive right into my manuscript and pick up where I left off in September, before rewriting book 1. I don’t seem to have done that quite yet…, having spent the week doing other stuff and being on Twitter far more than I should be.

I read an interesting book recently called, ‘Daily Rituals’, by Mason Currey. Mason has gathered information on how various writers, artists, philosophers and composers worked (or work). This is a book to keep on the shelf and dip into, especially when stuck as there are loads of ideas on how to get into a daily routine, however busy you are. Some ideas I wouldn’t advocate, such as consuming copious quantities of alcohol, chain-smoking and taking loads of drugs, but it’s the sort of book which you take what you want from. Many writers mentioned wrote (or write) for a minimum of three or four hours each day, took (or take) walks in beautiful countryside and read a great deal. Some had no routine at all and only wrote when compelled to.

Charles Dickens ‘rose at 7:00, had breakfast at 8:00, and was in his study by 9:00. He stayed there until 2:00, taking a brief break for lunch with his family, during which he often seemed to be in a trance, eating mechanically and barely speaking a word before hurrying back to his desk.’

When asked if he had a daily routine, Kingsley Amis said, ‘Yes. I don’t get up very early. I linger over breakfast reading the papers, telling myself hypocritically that I’ve got to keep up with what’s going on, but really staving off the dreadful time when I have to go to the typewriter. That’s probably about ten-thirty, still in pajamas and dressing gown…’
Jane Austen ‘rose early, before the other women were up, and played the piano. At 9:00 she organized the family breakfast, her one major piece of household work. Then she settled down to write in the sitting room, often with her mother and sister sewing quietly nearby. If visitors showed up she would hide her papers and join in the sewing.’

This book has inspired me to write in three hour minimum blocks where possible, as I found an hour here and there wasn’t getting me very far. A scenic walk does help with mulling over bits I’m stuck on. But getting away from it all, especially with other writers always seems to work wonders.

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18 comments:

  1. I have to get this book. I've never read it. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It's a great read Krystol. Thanks for following my blog!

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  2. Great to hear about Mason's book - it sounds really inspiring. (Mind you, I probably spend a bit too much time reading about writing...!!) The weekend away also sounds great - beautiful view from your window. x

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    1. It's definitely worth reading Clare. Know what you mean-I have every how-to-write book there is out there! The view was amazing and great weather, couldn't believe it. We'll probably return.x

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  3. Sounds like a truly inspiring environment to work in. Sometimes, all we need to do is be quiet and listen to the voices inside our heads. Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience.

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    1. Thanks for visiting and for your comment :-)

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  4. I can't sit at the computer for more than a couple of hours at a time - and I do like to write with pen and paper on trains or in a café when possible.

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    1. Yes, it's good to get out to write-must do more of that.

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  5. Your writing retreat looks idyllic! That sounds like a really interesting book and thanks for sharing snippets of famous author's routines. I've found that once I get into a piece of writing I could easily spend a whole day working on it (with a break for lunch), but it's rare to get that luxury!

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    1. It was perfect Vikki! I could write all day and into the early hours sometimes, but rarely get the chance these days...:-)

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  6. Very envious of your retreat! And the Currey book sounds interesting. Good luck with your novel, Anita.

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    1. Thanks Johanna! Hope to see you at an RNA event this year x

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  7. That view would make it impossible for me to concentrate on the task in hand.

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    1. I can't wait to go back there Lindy :-)

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  8. Your weekend sounds like my idea of heaven, no wonder you returned home wanting to write!

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    1. Thanks Georgina, it was a perfect weekend-can't wait to return!

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  9. Your weekend away sounds brilliant, Anita! And thanks for the info about "Daily Rituals" - I'm going to check it out. :-)

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    1. It's definitely one of those books to dip in and out of for inspiration Elle :-)

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