Writing without, you know, "writing"

I used to catch ideas (which are so like butterflies, it almost seems cruel) by leaving myself answerphone messages on the home landline. The light would flicker at me when I got back in the warm at the end of the day: “hello,” glowed the message from a past me of oo, hours ago; “remember me? That light? Here I am. Take off your coat, grab a pen and stroke me.”

The idea hatchery. Not for stroking. That’s a cat metaphor that gets mixed up in this paragraph, the way cats do with vulnerable things like butterflies.

Work is different these days and so’s my tech. Now I use my mobile’s Voice Memos like a dictaphone when I’m on the move. It’s brilliant. I caught a whole HUMUNGOUS beast of a story in the Highlands this summer this way, and she and I (she’s a she, this one, and no butterfly, believe me) are turning her story into a play – SKIN – of which more in other times and places.

Another way I write is through my “morning pages” (check out The Artist’s Way, mentioned on this site and elsewhere). There, first thing in the morning, I go “into the zone”, picking a moment from the story to explore. This stuff tends to come out in the present tense and from the point of view of one character – and FAST. It’s got more in common with a cartoon, comic, a graphic novel – there are greater “reveals” as I move (am moved!) from frame to frame, moment to moment.

Why share these? ‘Cos you might like to try a technique or two you haven’t tried before. Because this way of writing – straight from the back of my brain, perhaps – always brings up surprises. It feels much more like the way I used to write when I was a child. And now I’m enough of a grown-up-enough writer who can use her craft (and pervy love of structure), I don’t worry too much that it’ll veer way OTT – and if you’re interested in getting that balance, do check out Linda Aronson’s new book, The C21 Screenplay (thanks, Santa – and everyone else, that’s an affiliate link and I might make a few pence if you click it and buy).

I’ve just been writing up the morning pages scribbles and the audio notes. Their energy is completely different to what comes up when I’m at a computer or a blank page.

It’s not a substitute – it’s a part of the process (just like turning the first draft into a graphic novel – with colour and everything – is a great way to find what BORES me.) It’s energy-full, almost unconscious writing – and a lot of fun if you have the discipline to turn it into something afterwards. Treat those writings with respect and let them fly!

Hope this was useful to someone. Let me know if so! Comments, below:

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