Before you start imagining this is a guide on how the collective ‘we’ write, in all areas, including character creation, story outline and development and then actually sitting down to put words on a page, it is not.
I am not part of any collective ‘We’ – I am a writer, of a fashion. I do not write in any formulaic way, have never been to creative writing classes, and do not have some overarching idea of instilling a workman like attitude to it. I do however, go through varied ways of writing and find this the best way.
We have all heard of writers who recommend sitting at a desk between 8am and 11am before drinking lemon tea for five hours – or those who swear writing every day all day is the only way to find your true style etcetera, etcetera and so on.
One ‘daily writing routine’ that did strike me as worth reading was that of Hunter Stockton Thompson featured in E. Jean Carroll’s 1994 book: HUNTER: The Strange and Savage life of…
This list of lunacy may not be for many, especially as it contains a lengthy waking period of ‘Chivas Regal with morning papers, Dunhill cigarette’ – followed by cocaine, another ‘Chivas, Dunhill, first cup of coffee, Dunhill, cocaine, orange juice, Dunhill, cocaine, cocaine, cocaine’ and so on, before sitting down to write several hours later.
Some of it would definitely get the creative juices going, if you have the constitution of a horse, but drink and writing do not work for me. This admission may have faced scorn from Hemingway for example who, paraphrasing badly, said; ‘writers who cannot drink and write, are not drinking enough’.
So, there is the rub, I have no idea what does work for me, except that aforementioned pearls of wisdom such as: ‘write everyday stuff’, are something I consider to be nonsense and of course drink.
It has always struck me that art in any form is a natural thing, it is a living creative force that takes time to form, gestate and then if the writer/artist sits down and writes, birth and live.
Sat here now in a muted morning sun in ‘Sunny Worthing’ and no that’s not a piss take title the town I live in has been given, similar to that of vandalised ‘Help Shark’ Amity Island billboard as featured in Jaws, someone actually believes it’s true with regards to Worthing.
Sorry I went off on one, or did I? Did I unconsciously follow a creative path or line, in the same way that stories, ideas, characters should take writers? The type of path that sitting at a desk every day, stifles? If it doesn’t take you somewhere dreamlike and unimagined, what will it do to any poor reader unfortunate enough to view your work?
Maybe the title of this essay is wrong, it’s not How We Write, more How I Write, or come around to doing so.
I have noticed and touched on this topic in the foreword of my last release: Books, Bits & Bobs, where I briefly discussed how ideas all come – similar to children – in their own inimitable way. Some in the shape of organised form, some written in one sitting without any idea where you are starting from or ending up. Whatever way, they are all different and not born of discipline.
For example, in the children’s title I currently have with my proof reading hero Jason – this was started as a roughly laid out plan, you know a beginning, middle and end, I then filled this out with a series of adventures and created the characters, but here is where things were different and followed my comments earlier about ‘a creative path’, because I recorded the book from there, using a Dictaphone. Waking at all hours, creating different voices for the characters, acting out the book as if it was a play, I had no real idea where I was going only basic guides, which I had memorised. Once recorded I then transcribed and Bob’s your Uncle – actually he was my dad – the book was done. I have never written or created in this manner since – it was as if this ‘child’ needed to be born this way – so it could have its own individuality.
I suppose the point I am making is how I write is how you write, it is not a process – we just make sure we do write, but not ‘every day at 8am’ followed by lemon tea. Well, that’s what I think anyway.
Written by Dan Abrahams