Week 2 of “Start Writing Fiction” – Writing Rituals

[I’m just making my notes here as I do the course. They will be notes on what we learnt, bits of writing and reflections on how the course is going.]

This week was all about getting started and getting on with writing.

Approaches to Writing

We were asked to consider “What approaches [to writing] are most suited to you?” after listening to three writers talking about when and how they write. This is my take on it:

  • Late at night is my preferred time as I am not a morning person. However I am often very tired by evening so even this is not ideal.
  • I like the idea of making lots of notes and playing around in a notebook, however this may lead to procrastination! The idea of “getting below everyday language” is an interesting one. I guess however that may depend on what you are writing?

Which approaches are least suited?

  • Morning pages are fun – I read the “Artist’s Way” years ago and had a spell of doing them (a time of greater freedom and no children!) but I’m not sure I found them useful as much as therapeutic. I remember the “brief” was just to splurge on the page without letting the brain interrupt too much. However, I am definitely not good in the mornings – not first thing, anyway.

Creative Writing Exercise

We then had to imagine two writing venues – one ideal and one difficult – and describe a writer at work in them both:

1. Bang, bang, bang. Then the stuttering hiss of the steamy milk frother. A tap runs. The clink of mugs being collected. A baby cries. Chatter at the counter. Whistling. I tap away on my ancient laptop – focussed, unobserved, sheltered by white noise and the company of strangers.

2. The TV flickers and babbles. The kids were settled but already it’s “Can I have another banana?” “Can I have more juice?”
I have to give them ‘the look’.
“Please mummy.” Put the laptop aside, heave myself up, fetch banana, return trip for juice, sit back down. Thought lost down back of sofa.

Attention to Detail

We had to develop a character sketch over a few units…here’s mine:

He was a curl of sulk. One brown corduroy leg folded round the other, one hand twisting a lock of dark brown hair while the other twirled a spoon in his unfinished bowl of unidentifiable soup. He was lost in thought, a sensitive mouth pursed with despondence, dark lashes cast down as if salty tears may fall any moment. Extra seasoning, perhaps.

We were supposed to develop it further in 2.10 but I’m stopping there…

The Blank Page

This is all about developing ideas from a notebook and from prompts. I’m guessing there’s an assumption that we are doing short stories? Not sure! I have a first draft of a novel that I’m working on (and the next one buzzing in my head) so, whilst characters and scenes are always good to develop, I’m not lacking for ideas (just time!)

I liked the prompts “Emma said that…” or “I remember…” – then chop the words off the beginning. I think they will make useful exercises to revisit from time to time.

I’m going to post my radio-inspired story as a separate post…



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