Monthly Archives: January 2014

Walking boots, an essential piece of writer’s kit.

I’ve no idea if you can set walking boots against a writer’s tax – but you ought to be able to.   Especially this winter when even a stroll along the lane can require serious mud handling capabilities, and leave even the hardiest walker slipping around grappling at thorn bushes. I say this because this morning I took two hours of my most productive writing time to stomp over the waterlogged countryside and think.

It was lovely out there.  Wet, dripping even, the wood black, the ground mostly brown, but the birds were doing their best as was the wind, and the moss and ferns seemed greener and brighter in the wet woodland.

I came back full of worked through ideas.  I’m sure some hardy souls would take a note-book and pen, but I reckon that if I can’t remember it, then it wasn’t a good enough idea in the first place.  I ran through characters, chatted to myself, talked to a horse or two, felt the tension run out of my shoulders, breathed deeply, felt virtuous.

so now – with the rain hammering on the Velux over my head, I can write twice as fast and twice as clearly as usual – I’ve barely touched the internet’s manifold distractions even though I’ve left it switched on.

I’ve even written a blog.

So if you’re thinking of being a writer, I highly recommend a good pair of walking boots.



Scheduling Creativity with the Story Adventure


I’m about to re-embark on the Story Adventure – A new story, shorter, spookier, easier for younger children and with a teacher’s/parent forum built in, is kicking off in earnest on 20th January.

So I’ve been looking back at the things that surrounded the Story Adventure, things I wrote and observed.

This is something I wrote during the process for Sara O’Connor to use at a digital presentation about scheduling creativity:


I think that usually, as a writer, I dream before I write.  I garden, I take my children to school, I cook, I listen to the radio and that while I do this, a chunk of my brain is actually churning ideas.   Then, when I’ve been prevented from writing by real life for long enough, the writing kicks in, fast and furious, like turning on a tap.  Normally I’d say that this process is impossible to schedule and that the actual writing is born out of frustration rather than external necessity.

With the Story Adventure, I had a load of ready made creativity from the children which helped me to force the process. I read all the entries the night before, and then slept and dreamed.  When I was awake I tried not to actually think about them, but just to let the strongest ideas push the door hardest and end up in the script.   I did far less “problem solving” than I would normally do, that will have to take place during the final edit. Given longer, we would have ended up with a completely different story.

Then there was the issue of switching on and off.  Having screwed myself into  that writing place on a Thursday morning, speaking to no one, checking no emails, drinking no coffee – after writing the chapter, I had to wait another week and get myself back in again the following Thursday morning. Normally, I’d have continued to write the story, but I had to wait for the childrens’  ideas, so I had to stop.  I also had to switch very quickly from writer to editor –  doing both on the same day.

 Of the fifteen chapters I wrote online, I suspect about three of them were artifice, forced out, perhaps lacking heart, the other 12 were spontaneous, and three or four of those wrote themselves in minutes, which is all you can ever hope for.

The last few chapters were harder than the beginning.  There were so many possibilities and yet it needed to have a satisfying conclusion – a different person would have mapped it out carefully, but I’m afraid I blundered in and simply had to rewrite when some of the ideas didn’t work.

I suspect if you had put electrodes on to my brain, you would have discovered the right and left working overtime to get it done.

So yes, you can schedule creativity, but it takes huge discipline, and it really isn’t easy.

Also, and this is a side issue – eventually, the Story Adventure process stops you writing another book at the same time.  It uses just too much of your head to allow another story in.  Editing, fine, but actually writing – no.


The last Story Adventure is in print now as: SHRUNK 2  – Mayhem and Meteorites

There’s no reason to suspect that the next one will be any easier but it will be exciting.