Welcome Nikki and thank you for sharing a day in your writing life…
Nikki Logan writes nature-based stories for Harlequin (Sweet in Au/NZ, Romance in the US and Cherish and Riva in the UK). She believes the richness and risk of falling in love are perfectly mirrored by the beauty and danger of wild places.
What’s the first thing you do before you begin to write? Do you spend much time reading over the previous day’s work? Do you have a special system in place in order to begin writing or go with the flow? I always read a chapter (ish) to get back up to speed with the pace of the scene I’m about to work on and the emotions of the characters in it. I usually have a mental picture of the scene I’m about to write (as opposed to a scene-plan or notes etc) and usually I know what the scene is hoping to achieve so then I just throw my characters in and point them directly to that purpose and see what happens.
Are you a plotter / planner or a pantser? I am a planter. Or a plotster. I like to know roughly what happens in key points of my story, and where I have to be by a certain point in the story arc. I definitely like to know what my ending is going to be all about. But around that I like to let my subconscious do the writing. I like my characters to tell me what’s going to happen next. So I tend to be very flexible with the story. The exception is if I get stuck/blocked. I’ll go back and sketch out the purpose of all the scenes leading up to the block point and then really crunch a plan for the scene. And then that usually gets me going again. And almost always I end up rewriting it because that kind of micro-focus on the craft tends to strip my voice from the scene. But… it gets me moving again and that’s what counts.
What writing tools do you favour? Tosser alert: this is how I write… I see a scene play out in my head and my job is to keep up and capture on the page what I ‘see’. I blame my filmic mind and it’s why my stories tend to be so visual. I’ll gallop along like that for pages (until the scene has played out in my mind) and then stop, go back and tweak to fix up all the subtle things ruined by the crazy rush. My base writing process is so immediate—subconscious creative thought straight to fingers—that I would be lost without a good keyboard and my 80wpm touch typing.
Therefore, the most important tools in my office are healthy fingers/wrists and my Goldtouch tenting keyboard.
Breasts are the enemy of healthy wrists, particularly (ahem…) larger ones, particularly larger ones on an already large torso. Traditional keyboards force your hands close together which means your shoulders are working against a ‘spring’ for hours and (in my case) my elbows, too, squeezing in against my thick middle (*see how many creative ways I have of not saying ‘fat’ 😉 I should be a writer… ) and so strain injuries increase. A skinny, small-breasted writer has one-third of the stress on her shoulders/elbows as I do. And when you sit and write for hours…
But… tenting keyboards take the ‘ergo’ principles and really make them flexible. You can pull the two halves of the keyboard as far apart as your body needs to reduce the spring factor. You can even tent right up and type kind of sideways.
It took me about a day to get used to the layout/functionality and now I have one at work as well. I simply cannot bear to write on a normal keyboard for more than about an hour. But on my Goldstar I can write all day long. Think it cost me about $150 but given I forked out over $1500 on a years worth of chiro to fix my first instance of writing related tendonitis… A bargain! I’ve never had wrist strain again.
Do you use whiteboards, posters, visual aids to help in your creativity? I originally used a ‘collage’ board to pin images relevant to the story I was working on at the time. But since I got a widescreen monitor I tend to litter those things on the desktop instead. Because of the extra width, I can have a couple of images on the right-hand-side of the screen while working on my WIP on the left.
The hero’s boat. The heroine’s forest hideaway. A scruffy dog. A cute kid. A particular artwork. Whatever might be in the scene.
But I always keep my hero and heroine on my PC desktop until that story is finished so I really ‘live’ with them.
As a result I have the most mammoth ‘inspiration’ folder on my computer filled with heroes and heroines of all types, individual body parts, tattoos, outfits. I’ve even started a gruesome one for injuries which are really handy. One day some tech guy is going to look at that stuff and call the police J
Can you name five objects that are always on or near your work desk while you write? 1. A dog. Possibly two. They love to sleep on my study floor or in the doorway while I’m writing. It doesn’t feel right without them here.
2. Crockery…multiple. Tea mugs, snack plates, water glasses. My home office is at the front of the house and the kitchen is waaaaay at the back. So I tend to stock up with supplies for a day of writing.
3. Reference collection: Thesaurus, Oxford Concise, Dictionary of Dreams, Baby Names, Dictionary of Idioms, Dictionary of Quotations. You never know when you might need to know something.
4. Quotation: It’s the only ‘permanent’ thing stuck to my office wall. An anonymous quote that used to be stuck to my father’s old desk (literally, the same piece of paper).
If writers stopped writing there’d be nothing for art directors to art direct, film companies to film, researchers to research, media people to place, and everyone and his dog to express expert opinion on.
www.nikkilogan.com.au – A Romance with Nature
‘Shipwrecked with Mr Wrong’ (M&B Riva) April (UK)
‘A Kiss to Seal the Deal’ (M&B Cherish) July (UK/US)
‘Rapunzel in New York’ (M&B Riva) July (UK)