Thinking Time

My main way to consume novels and other publications is to listen to the audiobook version. This allows me to walk or run or be otherwise active at the same time, so I tend to read paper books only if there’s no other option.

However, I also go through periods of not listening to anything, and I’m currently in one of these periods.

I mentioned in my last entry that I’d been unwell, but that I was able to finish a short story I’d half-written. I’m feeling much better, and I’m back to leaving the house for much longer periods. I’ve been using this time to think about the sequel to that story, and now that’s coming along nicely.

I’ll eventually be ready to go back to the audiobooks, but I can’t see that happening for a little while yet, at least until that sequel is completed. But when that day comes, I’ll be able to pick up from where I left off.

Knowing How to Start

Although you see a new blog entry here every week, it isn’t always an easy business knowing how to start writing them. Sometimes, I have only a vague idea of what I want to say; other times, there might be two topics of equal importance that don’t link into each other or sit well together.

There’s no good answer to either of these problems, but one technique is to start writing anything, whether it’s a fragment, a plan, someone else’s words, or even a load of nonsense. After a few minutes of non-stop writing, I find this has the effect of turning on the tap so a structure begins to flow.

Another good method is to head out for a walk or a run, depending upon your preferred speed. A few years ago, I was struggling to write a short story about a man with an excellent memory but limited social skills. I went for a walk in the rain, writing down fragments in my notepad in bus shelters. The moment I had the line, ‘Anger can do in five seconds what a shrink can’t do in five years’, I was ready to write the rest of it.

At times, of course, there will be nothing pressing to say. It’s more difficult to start from a blank slate, but the above techniques can be used in the same way.