I’m nearly ready to start writing a new novel and I’ve got some blue sky thinking to do…
It’s that time of year again when I’m planning to write a new novel and I’m going to have my head in the clouds. You see, from June onwards, I have a window of opportunity where I can actualise my time when my significant cohort depart and I can park that during the day and optimise the opportunity to lay down some words in the twilight hours.
What a load of crap.
Sorry, I couldn't help that. A few days ago, I played a very funny game of bullshit bingo. It’s great; if anyone reading this works in education, business or any other public service then you will be familiar with the jargon that goes with the job. When you have a particularly poncy meeting or training session coming up, what you do is make a bingo card with all the nonsense jargon words you know and share them around your group. You pay a quid each and then during the meeting, while you hide your bingo card under your notepad, you cross off all the jargon you hear and the first one to complete their card wins the money. You often signal your win by sneezing a swear word, the more inappropriate the better. A sure fire way to help pass a boring meeting, and getting sacked if you get caught. But who said fun was safe?
The reason I’m sharing this with you is that recently, I've been doing an online creative writing course. It’s one of those free Future Learn ones and it’s quite nice but there has been some serious over thinking going on. It’s for beginners, so of course the objective is to give people ideas on how to get started and encourage them. I couldn't help thinking that it was just circling around the act of actually sitting down and writing. Keeping a notebook to write down ideas? Good advice, but there was so much emphasis on preparing the plot, character background, finding your ‘writing place’ and choosing what colour pen to write in, I wondered when anyone was actually going to start doing some, err, writing.
You see, that’s what I do. I think of an idea, and then I start writing. I write about a thousand words a day, every day, until I've finished the first draft. I have an idea about the plot and the main characters, but they can change and then I do something that I suspect that wouldn't be terribly approved of by some creative writing courses. I make it up as I go along.
I do tend to do a lot of thinking during that time, or daydreaming, or blue sky thinking, for those who like a bit of self-actualisation. This does involve me staring at walls, walking to work in a daze, causing minor traffic accidents or nearly provoking fights as people think I’m staring at them. I’m not being weird, I’m just in L K Jay la la land and living inside the story I’m working on. And then when I get home, I open up my lap top and write it down. End of.
I’m sure writing courses are very worthwhile, great for people who want some encouragement and I hope they find them useful. But ultimately, if you want to write, there’s only one thing to do. Open your notebook, laptop, back of an envelope, and begin.
I’m currently editing my new ghost story novella, ‘The Book of Saint Giles’ and as soon as I have a release date, I’ll let you know.