Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Free Writing Exercise (Part 2)

Nick Daws' writing course shows you how to free write, or write without thinking. I've done a little bit of this in the past, and I quite like the results. It's the only way I'm going to be able to write quickly, that's for sure.

Anyway, what follows is the exact (unedited) results of my free writing exercise. It took five minutes exactly, plus the time taken to type it out (Nick recommends that you hand write for best 'right-brain' success).

Exercise: Write whatever comes into to your head for the following (more or less) random words:

Black hat
Business card

(Here goes.)

The Black Hat Cactus. What a strange name for a pub. And the people that went into it were also strange, for sure. No business cards. Needed in this place. Absolutely not. No suits. No mini skirts. No power dressing of any kind. Just relaxed folk getting on with 'getting on'.

Yes, there were the odd fights - strange folk can rub up to other strange folk in most peculiar ways. But these fights always ended in the same way. The two men (or women), were forced to agree to disagree. They supped a pint of the other person's favourite tipple (not wine, obviously - that'd be a glass) and then they signed the Guest Book: a guest book of fights. There was no glory in being in the guest book, though. This was because all those that witnessed the fight got to write about it - and, a bit like drunks - no-one looks good when they're scrapping like a puppy.

That book didn't come out very often but it did come out. Tonight was a guest book night. And even though I'd remembered no business cards and got the name of the pub right, I was one of those involved in the punch up.


Procrastincation and fear

I know I'm procrastinating at the moment, almost fearful that I will get my 'bid idea' and then I'll have to begin. Some of my procrastination is actually just getting ready (I've started re-reading Nick Daws' How to write a book quickly course - see quotation below) whilst the rest of it is... er, doing something else.

Still, I'd rather procrastinate now and get it out of my system than be blighted half-way through writing the first draft. (Spoken like a true procrastinator! :-) )

I know I'm fearful too.

What if it's rubbish?

What if I've nothing to say?

What if what I say is unimportant, of little value?

Why did it take you so long to write?


Hmm. Fear can cast a powerful spell, indeed. I can already imagine the people who will be first to scoff at my efforts.

Facing these fears is part of the battle. A battle that continues however many novels one starts to write, I'm sure. Yes.

So let's finish this 'doing something else' blog entry with these comforting words, taken from Nick Daws' course. You're never too old, Nick says, to write your first novel...

"Indeed, older people have a big advantage when it comes to writing. Even if they have led relatively uneventful lives*, they still have a huge reservoir of experiences and memories they can draw on to add color and depth to their writing."

* The life inside my mind has been far from uneventful.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Today I went to Hebden Bridge, looking for inspiration I once experienced (when I took my creative writing course at Arvon).

As with most things you look for, I didn't find it, but Heptonstall (above Hebden) is still a lovely place to visit, despite the horrible commuter traffic I had to endure getting there at 10am.

I know where inspiration lies, and today's visit was a minor act of procrastination that I allowed myself.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Today's The Day

Today is the day that I start to write my novel.

Well, okay, today is the day that I start to make space to write my novel. Space means time, energy, ideas and commitment. I would like to write my first thousand words today, I would, but I am still unsure about what to write about. Vague ideas include writing about a writer writing his first novel (introspective, moi?) and beginning to live again as he does so. Then there's writing about angels. Then there's writing about one particular angel - the healer, somewhat cursed by her ability to heal those in emotional (or psychological) pain. Hmmm.

So today I'm going to:
  • write this blog entry;
  • I'm going to read much more of Kurt Vonnegut's Timequake;
  • I'm going to look over the notes I took during the Arvon writing course (I might even drive to Hebden Bridge to rekindle the inspiration I felt at the time);
  • and I might start going through the Write Quickly ebook again - if I follow the advice in this ebook then I should have something written in the next twenty eight days.
Writer's write. Right?

Well, this is a start.

I don't feel ready at all, but I've committed to beginning in January and beginning in January is what I will do. A novel does not begin with the opening line; it begins with an idea and with a commitment to fully develop that idea. Clearly, I still need to promote one of my many ideas to 'best idea' and then flesh it out. (There will be little time for flesh, I feel.)

It's better to start somewhere than to wait until starting feels right. It's not as if I haven't been waiting for over twenty years as it is.

So, I've started. Today. (Hip hip hooray!)

One good thing, though. I think I've found my muse: Kurt Vonnegut, no less. I very much like Vonnegut's style and ideas - they feel much more in line with my own than, say, Martin Amis or Richard Forde. Vonnegut does metafiction and omniscient point of view, but it's all done in an understated way. Martin Amis (in London Fields), on the other hand, feels to me like the virtuoso violinist instructing the beginner. "Too good, Martin, too good."

More importantly, however, for this writer, "Not me, Martin, not me.'

I will never be Kurt Vonnegut. But that's fine by me. And I'm sure Kurt (and Kilgore) are pleased by that too.

I'm just a little bird getting ready to sing his own unique little song.

Two quotations to finish with. Maestro, please:
  1. "Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." - Henry Van Dyke
  2. "A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song." - Chinese Proverb