How I Write
I try and write every day although this is not always possible. On the days when I can’t write I spend a good part of the day thinking, ‘not writing today, but can do tomorrow’, or, ‘Tuesday!’
On the days when I can’t write I tend to be more moody, antsy, anxious, impatient, depressive, pessimistic, gloomy. On those not writing days I feel that that’s it, my life might as well be over. When I’m writing the sun shines.
I write best in the mornings. Some days I could probably start writing at two o’clock in the afternoon but this is unlikely.
As, in my head, I need to be up early in the morning, in my head, I also need to go to bed at a reasonable time; midnight or earlier. This means if you try and keep me up late I will become more moody, antsy, anxious.... See above.
Writing is fun!
I write in my living-room. There is an alcove under the staircase. I face a wall and on my right is a shelving unit holding all my CDs and DVDs. My books are upstairs. I don’t know if this is significant.
I can’t write listening to music. A lot of writing is not writing. I will make lots of cups of tea, sit at the computer starting at the screen, pace up and down the floor, throw myself in anguish on the sofa.
Then there will be a sudden spurt when I write hundreds of words. This is the good part. All that hanging around and throwing myself against sofas is the annoying part and something I’d like to cut out.
I don’t write all day although I feel that I should. I tell myself that a thousand words is a reasonable amount and once I’ve hit that I can stop. This will probably take about three hours although some days I will write longer than this.
‘Telling myself’ and ‘reasonable’ are the key words there. Because what I really feel is a sense of guilt if I’m not writing. I feel that I should be pushing myself harder because writing is an escape and I haven’t escaped yet.
Writing is hard!
There is always something else to do. Sitting at a computer which is connected to the internet offers endless temptation. At a click away there is news, book reviews, newspapers, Amazon, iPlayer, my own website (‘I’ll just have a quick look.’ ‘It’s static you fool! It doesn’t do anything!’), porn, Facebook, MySpace, the weather in Angola, the annual yield of wheat in the Southern American States and so on but not always in that order.
I write on an Apple Mac computer using the iWork word processor. I like that I can move individual letters to any position on the screen although I have never done this. Perhaps I am reassured that post-modern techniques are only a mouse click away.
There are always new markets to explore!
The Mac is also great for doing my website, recording podcasts, looking at unsavoury things on the internet in super sharp quality. See above.
I have often read that writers don’t like to read other writers when they are writing. They feel that it will unduly influence their own style. It’s not a rule I follow. 1) Because I am writing most of the time and would therefore never read. 2) If I happen to start writing like Haruki Murakami, Rupert Thomson, Jose Saramago I really don’t mind.
Bring it on!
I would like to say that my writing is carefully planned and I know exactly where I’m going but this is not the case. I heard another writer at a talk who said she had the plot mapped out on a spreadsheet, so many pages for each scene.
That wouldn’t work for me. I start with the characters and a general idea of where I want the story to go. As I’m writing things happen, new characters appear. In the thing I’m working on at the moment a new character, Dave, sprang up in the very first chapter. If I had it all planned out what would happen to Dave! These are things to consider.
Each writer must work out what’s best for them. And for Dave!
If you asked me why I write then I would have to say I don’t know. I do know that it makes me happier and that is it’s own reward. The below is nice too though:
Drew Gummerson’s latest novel, Me and Mickie James, was published by Jonathan Cape in July 2008.
Reviewed here: Guardian, Time Out, Morning Star, Gaydarnation, Pulp, ABCTales, BookMarks, Chroma, and others that aren’t online.
Check out his website for forthcoming events and publications.
Currently reading: The Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman
Currently listening to: The Wind Up Bird Chronicle (audiobook), Haruki Murakami