How we write



I’m currently in York (‘Old York’), having just come from Stratford-upon-Avon, and I’m working my way up to the Scottish Highlands where I will participate in one last writing event — a writers’ retreat just outside of Inverness.

Where I met up with the 'London Literary Cafe'.

Where I met up with the ‘London Literary Cafe’.

I’ve been pondering on the differences and similarities in how we all write as I’ve travelled about. Some of us, like me, try to write everyday, lest our rhythm and energy slip. Many, like me again, like to write to music — whether this is to simply cut off distractions from the world or perhaps even draw on the mood of the music as you try to effectively turn ideas into written words.

As I attend groups and retreats (only one of the latter, so far, but another coming), I am struck by how many of us still write from pen to paper, transcribing to computer at a later date. This is something I rarely do. For me, writing from pen to paper just adds hard labour to the task. I avoid it where I can. I much prefer to use all of the devices available to me to aid my writing. For me, this is a part of the fun. I practically surround myself with devices. But at the writers’ retreat in Shropshire I was especially aware that those with a laptop were in a distinct minority. Interestingly, London was different, with many writing with the aid of bot laptops and iPads.

Where I met up with 'Write Together', London.

Where I met up with ‘Write Together’, London.

I often think about rhythm in my writing, which for me is an intuitive thing, the sense of my words and sentences flowing together in a way that supports the images I am trying to convey. I think this is the same for most writers, but one writer I met talked to me about the melody in his writing, and how this was different to the rhythm of his words. Something I’ll need to give some more thought to.

The same goes for the writing spaces we choose. I write wherever I can (I’m writing this sitting up in bed). For others it must be a desk. And perhaps even one specific desk. Many writers also love a good view before them. Of course I like a terrific view as much as anybody, but for writing? I would find it distracting. I would just want to gaze into it. But we’re all different.

Dunstable Downs. Close to where I grew up in the UK.

An incredible view! Dunstable Downs, close to where I grew up in the UK.

I’ll leave you now with a few more travel snaps, and let you know more about the final writers’ retreat soon.

In Shakespeare’s old house, in Stratford-upon-Avon, you can buy the complete set of Shakespearean Star Wars books. Here’s two…

The Phantom of Menace

The Phantom of Menace

There's a complete set of Shakespeare Star Wars books.

The Clone Army Attacketh.

And a Dr Who…

Shakespeare Dr Who.

Dr Who? That is the question.

A literary construction site in Stratford-upon-Avon.

A literary construction site.

And finally, ending a serious note, the house where Shakespeare grew up…


9 thoughts on “How we write

  1. Image of York’s dark spiral steps and shaft of brilliant blue light would make excellent cover for your work-in-progress ‘Beneath the Surface.’

  2. I paid a visit to a writing group a couple of weeks ago and I noticed the majority of the guys had laptops. It didn’t bother me that I had my pen and exercise book. It’s what you put down on the page that matters.I wrote my first book on the kitchen table with pen and paper.

    • Absolutely it shouldn’t bother you. We all write differently. For me, the transcribing adds another layer of work, and I like that I can take it with me anywhere, across devices, especially as I’m travelling. But your first book, written with pen and paper, is excellent! 🙂

  3. I like to sketch drafts on paper with a dozen sharp HB pencils, a couple of erasers and good pencil sharpners. I can then see if first thought, sentence partially scribbled through or rubbed out is raw and honest to point I’m struggling to make. I worry about deleting stuff on laptop and being unable to retrieve it, also sudden crashes. Agree you about views. Distracting. French Lacanian analysis taught me that it isn’t ‘I’ that is viewing gaze out of window, but the view gazes at me. In other words, the view is subject, I’m object. It’s like not quite seeing something out there, something ‘in view yet more than’, a phantom ghost. A kind of X factor. See poem ‘Tis Celia Altogeather.’ Poet can’t quite put his finger on why he loves Celia.

    • Thanks for all of those thoughts – a mini blog in itself. I know what you mean about deleting. To make it easier, I cut and paste my deletes into a trash file, from where I can salvage them (which I rarely do). And because I do that, I’ve become quite good at deleting stuff. 🙂

  4. “As I attend groups and retreats (only one of the latter, so far, but another coming), I am struck by how many of us still write from pen to paper”.

    Agree entirely, release the wolves.

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