Blog Tour: My Writing Process
As usual, I have several projects on the go at once. I have a novel I’ve been writing since 2006; I’ve just finished yet another edit and it’s currently being read by members of my local Book Club. Once I have their feedback, I’ll decide on the next step: another rewrite; submit to agents and publishers; or publish it independently via my own imprint, Chudleigh Phoenix Publications. I am also putting together an ebook on Writing as a Business, based on the workshops I present each year at Swanwick, The Writers’ Summer School.
I really struggle with categorising my writing into a genre at all. I don’t write romantic fiction, although I’ve got more than one love story in my novel; I don’t write historical fiction, although two of the novels that are currently yelling for attention in my sub-conscious are set in the past, as is a major strand of my novel. I don’t write sci-fi or fantasy, although I read more of this genre than anything else. I don’t write about crime, although one of the stories I wrote in November… you get the idea. I tend to write ‘nice’ stories where the goody ends up on top and the baddy gets his just desserts, although anyone who has read The Well Brought-Up Woman in Life is Not a Bed of Roses will know it’s not always that simple. I guess it goes back to what I said earlier about writing my own experiences into my fiction. Many writers do that at some point; and since my life is unique to me, that’s how it’s going to differ from others. For example, there will usually be references to pharmaceuticals and/or Russia, two of my main influences.
I have a reputation for being well-organised. I’m usually the one who knows dates, times, exam rules etc. in my head. I’m the one my MA friends would email if they couldn’t find the handbook. In my former life, I was a project manager. So it won’t surprise anyone to hear I am a compulsive planner.
I generally write to triggers, either competition themes or self-imposed ones. I will usually plan my stories first, either on a flip-chart with post-its or on the cork board view in Scrivener. If I’m having trouble getting a piece written, I play the numbers game: 2000 words needed, that’s 10 scenes at 200 words or 4 scenes at 500 words and so on and start with a bullet point for each scene. It’s second nature to a former scientist to work like that, but it was a tip I picked up from Richard Beard on an Arvon Course some years ago.
Sometimes I try out the ‘pantster’ route by taking part in Write Invite or exercises at one of my Writing Groups (Chudleigh Writers’ Circle and Exeter Writers), but I’m not too good at that yet. I carry a notebook everywhere but rarely write by hand and tend to spend most days glued to a keyboard and screen.
I can write anywhere, so long as I have my iPod to shut out distractions, so have written on planes and trains, in libraries (not so quiet as one would expect these days), in hotels in remote parts of Russia, and in cafes. At home, I have a wonderful writing room in the garden with walls of melted chocolate and buttercup yellow. In summer, I open the doors, let in the sunshine, the smell of the herbs and the sounds from the farmyard across the stream. A little piece of Heaven in rural Devon.