Wednesday, 18 November 2009

How do you write?

No, I mean physically. Not HOW do you write i.e. where do you get your ideas from, how do you create your characters, all of that.

I mean, how do you write - dictation into a tape/to your fabulous assistant whilst lounging around drinking Pimms and nibbling cookies?

Do you have a favourite pen, or a style of notebooks you have to have with you when inspiration strikes?

Do you write by hand, with a quill, or do you open up your word doc or pages doc and just get on with it?

I ask this because I've found that my "how I write" has changed these last few years.

When I was younger and quite small and a bit stupid, I used to write on everything and in everything. Including my sisters' school books. Seriously. Crayons, pencils, pens, paint brushes. So that doesn't count. Unless I become JKR famous then of course these bits will be worth so much money I'll be able to afford a trip to the moon. But that's not very likely.

Growing up in South Africa I lived pretty much a computer / techie free life. Writing was always in notebooks or stolen school books. And boy, did I have loads of them! When I turned 15 my parents bought me this ancient typewriter that matched the typewriter I had at school. I took typing - thank the gods I did - and when I got home after school and after doing my homework, I would start typing stories for myself, late into the night. I was hugely embarrassed and secretive about it and NEVER EVER showed anyone what I typed. Mostly I plagiarised books I found from the library and only changed names. I know. I know. But even Shakespeare wasn't an Original!

Then I met Mark when I was 23/24...that was a bit blurry and a bit of a wild time for us as we did so much. Motorbiked all over SA, worked at the bank full time and then worked at a restaurant in the evenings. And one of our friends, Angelo, had a computer at his house...and that's the first time I electronically started writing. I wrote to keep track of our gaming escapades. I wrote snippets of stories and saved them on "stiffies". It was a revelation, learning how to navigate this fantastic tool that was especially JUST created for me. A writer.

We moved to the UK and of course, I utterly and completely became embroiled in computers. It's become a passion.

My first ever personal computer was a Sony Vaio which turned out not to have been for me. It was big, ugly and heavy. Dreams of writing in coffee shops fell flat. I gave it away. That was nine years ago and several laptops and computers later.

Now I have a top of the range iMac which is glorious. I love its size - 21.5" - and its clarity. I love its keyboard and magicmouse. I love how when I sit in front of it, I feel enveloped in it. It makes me WANT to write. It makes me want to be creative. I feel like a writer. It's challenging and it makes me want to not let it down.

I still have my love of journals and notebooks though - especially Moleskines. I also a selection of truly gorgous leatherbound journals made for me. These I love to look at and hold and touch but I can't bring myself to use them. Then, on the other hand, I flirted for a long while with the notebooks from Paperchase too. In fact, in this respect I am pretty much a bit of a tart - if it's pretty, and funky, I'll buy it. I'll buy it for making notes, scribbling down ideas, words, conversations, snippets, thoughts.

As much as I love writing by hand - my third finger on my right hand (counting from the thumb) has this deep dent from my days in school from writing by hand - I'm definitely a computer writer. Writing for me is seeing my words rapidly appearing like insane ants high on sugar, on that blank page on the computer screen.

So, what is your writing implement poison?


  1. At work I write in notebooks. I can't type up chunks in the cafeteria on my lunch breaks. I usually type up what i write then (and on the drive to or from work) as soon as I get home and then expand it.

    I do handwrite out idas and plot points initially (as they usually hit me when i'm away from the computer). and most of those are in smaller notebooks that fit in my purse or deep pockets on some coats.

    I'll also take my laptop out to little cafe's and write there for a bit if i'm getting stuck on something if I get really stuck. Sometimes I just have to switch to my tower instead of using the convient (yet distracting) laptop in alternate settings :)

  2. Yeah, I know what you mean about being a Paperchase tart and buying notebooks that are so pretty you don't want ot use them;D.

    I started out with writing on the computer only, using notebooks for ideas and plots and characters, but since moving to Canada I've began to write in my notebook and then transfer on to the computer later. I find I prefer the computer because I often cannot read my own handwriting and I find the transfer process a little labourious (is that a word?). But it gets me writing when I'm on the go, so my notebook is always with me. I never know when an idea will come to me...

  3. A combination as it depends on whether I know what's happening with the story next. If its flowing, I can write on the computer, no problem at all. If I need to figure it out, or am not sure which part to write next I need pen and papaer. I carry a notebook wherever I go, but that is purely for making notes and jotting down ideas. I write on an A4 pad (I have certain types I prefer, namely spiral bound, good quality paper). And I also prefer to use the pen my DH got me for Christmas last year - a Waterman nibbed pen with a beautiful blue ink.

    That said, if stuck, a napkin and an eyeliner have been known to have been drafted into service! :)

    Oh, and I quite often find my A4 pads to be covered with my children's drawings before I get to write on them.

  4. Recently I've been scribbling away like crazy in an A5 spiralbound notebook. It's my back up for if I'm computerless or stuck. Normally though, I can be found typing away on my laptop in front of the tele. Music is a normal companion. Loud. And always through earbuds, never external speakers.