Just Writing

I’ve been looking through some past writing projects over the weekend. It’s great to re-read shelved material with fresh eyes several months or even years down the line.

A couple of projects stood out. They weren’t finished but were certainly in a great place to be picked up and fleshed out.

Writing is an entirely different discipline to illustrating. At least, it is for me. When I’m writing there’s no music and no distractions. Library conditions all the way.

With illustration I can happily have the music at volume 10, the TV on in the background and the kids running around the house.

So the best time in the day for me to write is first thing in the morning, which is usually 6:30am. Minutes after waking up I have a coffee prepared and the Mac fired up. I tend not to be a note taker. I’d much rather try and keep an idea alive in my mind. If it sticks then I’ll write it. If it doesn’t stick I generally assume it wasn’t such a great idea.

This morning I started writing. I took the first dozen or so pages of a previous project and started from there. Pretty much continuing the story with no regard for what was already written. An extremely valuable exercise.

After an hour I stopped writing. I didn’t read through my work and won’t until tomorrow. Then I picked up another unfinished project and did the same. I wrote for an hour (or thereabouts) and stopped. The stories are quite different but because my mind was in author’s mode, it was really quite straight forward.

I guess the thing I struggle with the most, even with silence and a clear head, is finding my voice. There’s little worse than having some great ideas and not being able to articulate them in a readable or professional style.

It’s not writer’s block. That’s just a severe drought of ideas. I have plenty of ideas but don’t, perhaps, have my brain switched on to be able to write them ‘cleanly’.

Once upon a time this would have meant ‘down tools’ and come back when I’m able to write in the correct way.

But now I just write it. As I’m writing I may be aware that what I’m writing is badly presented, but the content, the actual story is exactly what I want to say.
This is a huge thing and having that luxury of being able to revisit work a little further down the line means that I can then adapt the writing to better fit my ‘voice’ or ‘style’.

There’s a lot to be said for ‘just writing’ and worrying about the style of the writing at a later date.


Discovering my voice or my style as a writer?

I recently started a web-based course by writer James Patterson. In it he explains by way of a series of videos how to write fiction. Naturally, he focuses on thrillers and crime. It’s interesting discovering how a successful author goes about constructing his work but something for me is missing.

I have a lot to say and therefore a lot to write, but I have a conflict within me that cannot decide how this should be said. The writers that I enjoy tend to write in what I may call a tidy style. Hemingway and King, for example, are convincing writers and don’t necessarily waste too much space on the page with the finer details. I like this. It moves things along at a good rate for me as a reader.

To help identify my own style I’d assumed that what I was looking for was my ‘voice’, or my ‘inner voice’. This formed the basis of my search with Google.
I read through a bunch of pages returned in the results and still I wasn’t convinced I was looking for the right thing. Was it really my ‘voice’ I was trying to identify?
Perhaps it wasn’t. Perhaps I had my voice firmly established and it was more the ‘tone’ of my voice I was trying to identify.

Hemingway had a specific tone to his voice as a writer that I enjoyed. His lifestyle was reflected within his writing and made for an attractive read. Even the grittier stuff as found in ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’.
He never sat still as a writer and I for one found that style accessible and thrilling. I’m not one to get lost in pages and pages of how somebody has felt about the things in their life. I’m far more thrilled to read about how somebody has acted, or is acting, to get through the events in their life.
In many respects my writing could very well be for the screen as much as it may fit within the pages of a novel.

My writing voice is soft but brutal. It’s also frenetic and passionate. Often I will find myself writing material that has a depth and intensity to it. Essentially my writing reflects my personality to a great degree.

What I am trying to identify is a style. A way of actually telling the story such that I myself would read it and enjoy it. To this end I’m becoming more and more comfortable with envisioning my book’s scenes as movie scenes where actions tell the story. Much like Hemingway, who portrayed his characters as very real characters who expressed their emotion through their actions, I want to create real or true characterisations. People based stories, yes, but also strong characters. With this in mind I can create characters of anything not just anyone.

It’s very much an ongoing exercise.