I thought you might be interested to know how I plan and achieve (ahem) my writing strategies. I enjoyed writing this Writer’s Lives piece for IASD (Indie Author Support and Discussion) group and decided to share my squirrely ways with you too.
I’m a creature of habit, but like a squirrel I’m jittery and anxious. I like routine, but have a degree in procrastination. So, my writing habits are well planned with the best intentions, but not always successfully carried out.
I begin my day with plans that fit my control freak personality, but go awry as soon as I hit social media. It always starts with ‘just checking my notifications’, but finishes a few hours later after having been distracted by posts, blogs, and shiny things… My problem is beginning, but once I’m there the words flow and I easily slip away into another world.
My laptop – on my lap, where else? – is where I begin, in my lounge with my German Shepherd at my feet, a hot chocolate in my squirrel mug, and chocolate within reach. I like being surrounded by pretty things and though my house is a chaotic array of disorder and a carpet full of dog fluff, I like sensory things to keep me focused. I always have acorn cups or hazelnut shells beside me, sounds odd, but I did say I’m a squirrel… actually I deal with several mental health disorders including anxiety, panic, depression, and Sensory Processing Disorder, and acorn cups are my stim of choice. Rolling a polished hazelnut shell or acorn cup between my fingers calms and grounds me. I also like having a scented candle alight, and flowers and crystals close by.
You’re probably noticing that I ramble a fair bit… give me an inch and I’ll take a mile, but only with those I’m close to, otherwise I’ll keep my mouth shut and listen. Listening is fun – sometimes it’s what gives you a kernel of a story idea. Not just listening to people, but to everything. I let my mind wander, dog walks in the forest are perfect for this, and once an idea spins in my head I’ll be desperate to get it down onto paper. I fill notebooks with untidy notes and sketches. I’ll make maps, paint characters, and keep intricate detailed summaries, research, and annotations of every chapter that I write. I flip through these pages all the time as I write, and they are invaluable during edits and rewrites.
I’m a plotter, I like to know the beginning, middle, and end before I start, but as authors will tell you, our characters like to improvise and take us on journeys we didn’t expect, so you have to allow for digressions and detours. In real life I don’t like change, but in my writing life changes are exciting and inspiring! We writers are nothing if not a mass of contradictions. My first three published works were inspired by emotional issues and became a trilogy of three girls, three lives, three stories composed with the melody of hope. As grief is faced, hope becomes the only force to cling to and build upon.
Since then, I have put together a lyrical collection of dragon themed short stories, and a unique collection of post-apocalyptic tales that weave together into a larger story with fourteen other lovely authors. Right now, I am rewriting and editing a fantasy series set two thousand years in the future where the landscape of Wales has turned into a whole new country… and the rumble of dragons has returned.
I love writing and, as a skittish introvert, disappearing into an imaginary world is a solace that I’ve enjoyed since I first picked up a book as a child and vanished into my imagination. Come and join me!
How do you settle into writing, reading, or whatever you love doing?