Background artiste from 'Better than Stars'

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Stirring the Pot

I’m still looking for that story. The theory at the moment is that it might be buried somewhere on my desk, or at least that if I remove the clutter from my workspace it will do something to unblock the log jam in my head.

Shifting aside more soft toy rats than anyone ought to own (don’t ask), so far the most useful things I have found are a lot of pens – it’s a bit like geological layers: there’s an abandoned writing instrument marking the division between each era – and an uncompleted short story: alas I don’t think it’s what I’m looking for. It won’t bear being pumped up into a novella, let alone a fully-fledged book.

This has also prompted me to ask myself what are the most productive strategies for starting new work, as opposed to keeping going once you’ve begun. I thought a bullet point list would look rather nice on the page.

If only it was that simple. After all, it is probably the hardest thing a writer has to do. One thing I am certain about, is that you have to keep writing, keep the wheels oiled as it were – which is partly what I’m doing here. But some time has to be dedicated to the new Work in Progress each day, even if it is only spent staring out of the window, or what I call stirring the pot: writing lots of notes, sketchy plans, fragments of incidents, dialogues with myself ...

Then the moment comes: a snapshot of the action might flood with colour, a voice tug at your heart, a character turn and look you in the eye.  You know that’s it. The story will live.

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