People often ask me – (as I’m sure every writer gets asked) – what my average day is like. What time do I get up in the mornings? How long do I work for normally? Or, for that matter, how do I make myself work when I could be just watching a Jeremy Kyle marathon?!
So, to address all those questions and more, here’s my normal day.
The first thing you should know is that there is no such thing as a normal day. I have a basic routine but this can change at the drop of a hat, depending on a lot of different factors. I like to stick to this routine as much as possible, especially when I’m working on early drafts of a book, as it keeps me focused; I’m in the world of the book, thinking and feeling what the characters think and feel. Rather than calling the following a normal day, let’s call it an ideal day.
7:21 – Wake up.
I know that 7.21 is a strangely precise time to wake but it comes from some ridiculous study I heard about on the radio a few years ago. Apparently the best time to wake every morning is 7.21. I don’t know if it is or not. But I did set my alarm to that after hearing it and have left it since. It works for me, that’s all that matters.
8:30 – Get up.
Yes. It takes me that long to wake fully. I like to listen to the radio during that time.
Once I’m out of bed, I’ll fill a Thermos mug with fresh coffee – (which I have on a timer!) I prefer using a Thermos mug for two reasons. Firstly, it keeps the coffee warm for almost my entire writing session. Secondly, it means I don’t have to get up from my desk for a refill.
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Author Joe Hill posed an interesting question on his blog earlier. What 5 things have you never done as a writer that you would like to try? It got me thinking so here are my 5.
1.Write a graphic novel
This is an easy one. I’ve always loved comics and have a pretty decent collection. I also love art and have studied fine art, graphic design and film in college – all of which work nicely with the medium of graphic novels. It’s years since I made any art on paper properly and I’m sure I’ve lost whatever talent I may have had in that area so I wouldn’t be able to draw a comic but I would absolutely love to write one. If any comic artists or illustrators out there want to collaborate, give me a holla! Read the rest of this entry »
As I mentioned previously, I’m writing again. This time it’s a Young Adult novel. It’s quite dark and grim at times with a seventeen year old narrator. Oh, and it’s all written in the present tense.
The more I write it, the more I’ve been thinking about the present tense. It seems to have become very fashionable these days. Half – (if not all) – the YA novels I read are written in this tense as are a huge amount of books that turn up on award shortlists. In fact, a couple of years ago, Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials, wrote a piece in The Guardian bemoaning what he saw as overuse of the tense. It’s an interesting read and, as much as I admire him, I don’t fully agree with him here.
I’ve used the present tense throughout all the Arthur Quinn books – but sparingly. In each book, Arthur experiences strange dreams/visions of Asgard, the land of the gods. I wanted these visions to read differently. Switching from the past to present tense acts as a sort of lingual key for the reader; it takes them away from Arthur’s world and brings them to the world of the gods, a time where time itself acts differently. It’s jarring but it’s supposed to be. Read the rest of this entry »
There’s an extensive interview with me over at writing.ie where I talk about Children Save Dublin, my inspirations and why I chose to write for children.
A while back, a reader asked me to describe my desk. I thought the best thing to do would be to throw up a few pictures here.
Space is at a premium in my room, so this fold-up desk from Ikea was a perfect solution. It has just the right amount of space for my laptop and a few books without allowing me to clutter it. Read the rest of this entry »
From time to time I get asked to speak to creative writing groups or English classes. I always oblige. I love taking questions from enthusiastic students of writing and sharing what [modest] knowledge I have. There are five tips I always share with the groups; five tips that I believe have improved my writing.
So here they are. They may be helpful for some people.
1. Keep a journal (or in my case use post-its!)
Almost everything you will ever read on creative writing will suggest that you should keep a journal. You’re supposed to carry it around with you so that you can take note of every idea you have as you have it. Any of these ideas could eventually make a story.
I tried it for a while a few years ago and it just didn’t work for me. I found that my ideas became too jumbled and that I couldn’t focus on one. I’m an unusual case though. I find it much easier to work an idea through in my head for a few weeks before putting pen to paper. And I can juggle a few ideas at a time.
However, when I am sitting down at my laptop to write, I like to plot out that day’s chapter using post-its. I scrawl a plot point on a post-it each and stick it on the wall in front of me. Then, when I’ve written that plot point, I pull away the post-it and dump it. It’s hugely satisfying!
So, I don’t keep a journal. It might work for some people but it doesn’t work for me. That said, I do think that everyone should try it for a while. If it works for you, you will never want to be without your little notebook. Failing that, use post-its. I swear by them! Read the rest of this entry »