A Day in the Writing Life of …. Catherine Evans

Today, we welcome another of our tireless volunteers. Hi, Catherine and thank you for sharing a day in your writing life.

What time of the day do you write? Are you a morning, night-owl or anytime writer?

I’m a night owl by choice but an anytime writer so it gets done. I’m self-employed, so if I have a quiet moment, I take the time to write (or do something writing-related). Quiet moments can be 5 minutes or a whole day, depending on how work is going. I love it when I sneak a few hours writing time. If I don’t write through the day, then I have to write at night (or I can’t sleep). I think my best ideas come writing at night – or else when I’m almost asleep (and they get scribbled in a notepad beside my bed, no light, appalling scribble). If I don’t capture those random thoughts they’re either gone forever (I think the good ones go) or plague me until I write it down (sometimes these aren’t so good in the cold light of day!).

 Can you name five objects that are always on or near your work desk while you write?

A large mug of tea, pens & paper, dictionary, Blistex, a few crystals for focus, creativity and self confidence.

Do you use whiteboards, posters, visual aids to help in your creativity?

I have a whiteboard (a tiny A4-sized one) where I scribble ideas. Everything is pretty much jammed in my head until it’s written.

 Are you a plotter / planner or a pantser? Do you edit as you go or prefer to edit after completion of the ms?

I am a pantser. If I plot, I know the story and I don’t have to write it. I’d like to be able to plot. It would stop the countless false starts and all those “thrown away” chapters and scenes. I usually have a rough idea in my head of the story and the end.

I started out editing as I went but over the last few years I’ve learned that is really bad for my storytelling. Once I start editing, I lose the characters and the story. I start drifting, lose my focus, forget what my story was. And if I get help from CPs or judges, then who knows what my story will become. So now I write a really awful rough draft first to get the guts of the story down. Then I make an editing attempt and fill in the blanks I can see and fix up some of the goofs. Then my fantastic CPs will have a look and then the work begins! But at least I know what the story is and it doesn’t go off in someone else’s direction (or on some weird whim of mine!).

 And I have also learnt that if I’m editing (or learning new things), the creative part of my brain takes a holiday. So it’s no good for me to be writing and editing. Pick one and see it through. I’ve learnt that my brain is a far more confused space than I ever thought possible.

Is your writing space messy, organized or somewhere in between? Are you prepared to show evidence of your claim with a desk photo?

Oh, I am a mess. And really the photo doesn’t make it look as bad as it is. My office is my space. It’s small and crammed with all the things my husband doesn’t “get”. Plus I like working with everything within arms reach, so things pile up until I finish with them. My husband hates my office… but I love it – it’s how I work (that confused brain thing again *g*).

What’s the last thing do you do before you finish your daily writing session?

I have an online backup system, so I backup my files for the day. The system does backup at intervals throughout the day but before I shut down I make sure it’s caught everything. I’m a bit paranoid, not only about losing my writing but my work files too.

Thank you, Catherine for participating.

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14 Comments

  1. LOL on knowing the story so not needing to write it. I think I’m a mix between a plotter and a panter. I DO like an element of surprise too 🙂

    Reply
  2. Cath Evans

     /  August 5, 2011

    Hey Rach! I’m glad there are people who like surprises and don’t road map it all.

    Cath

    Reply
  3. Oh, Cath, I have a notebook and pen beside my bed too – but my scribbles are so bad I can’t read them the next morning. Yet I still persist with scribbling. Maybe becuase I live in hope one day they will be legible?

    Reply
  4. Cath, I’m with you! Being a fellow panster I really wish I could plot but then I’d know the end so it wouldn’t be exciting any more…

    And your office looks like mine – except my hubbie tidies it and then complains when I return it to creative chaos!

    Looking forward to catching up in Melbourne 🙂

    Reply
  5. Louise Reynolds

     /  August 5, 2011

    Hi Cath,

    I love my mess as well. Somehow I know where everything is and luckily I live with a messy person too. Although he calls me the “space invader”. Somehow my stuff just manages to inch across to his side of the study.
    Lovely to see where all that creative energy for our conference comes from as well!
    See you very, very soon. Aaaaaaagh!!

    Reply
  6. Cath Evans

     /  August 5, 2011

    Hi Anita, Helene and Louise,
    Anita – I reckon with practice the scribble becomes legible. I can write without even opening my eyes.

    Helene – I’m so glad to meet other people who like exciting pantsing and creative chaos!

    Lou – I was going to take a photo of our couch – with his side (bare) and mine (mess of things I do in front of the TV). I’m not allowed to creep across!! And don’t lose it yet 🙂

    See you all next week.

    Cath

    Reply
  7. Melissa

     /  August 5, 2011

    LOL Cath I though I was the only mad one scribbling what I hope will be legible hieroglyphics come morning on what I hope is paper and not bedsheet. See you soon,

    Melissa

    Reply
  8. Cath Evans

     /  August 5, 2011

    Thank goodness for this group… all the things I do that my dh tells me is a sign of craziness… are normal!!

    Thanks Melissa.

    See you soon!!!

    Cath

    Reply
  9. Hey Cath,
    It is so lovely to find out more about you and your writing. I really try plotting, but somehow my characters don’t understand what I’m doing and go off on their own journey. Normally by the last three chapters I have some order.

    I am so looking forward to meeting you in Melbourne.

    Sandie

    Reply
  10. Cath Evans

     /  August 5, 2011

    Hey Sandie,
    Wow… so many pantsers here… lovely to see! We all must have chaotically creative minds.

    See you in Melbourne!

    Cath

    Reply
  11. Elise McCune

     /  August 6, 2011

    Really informative…good to know we writers all share a lot of the same problems…i.e. writing scenes that are not needed…when to edit etc I promise myself that as it is such a waste of time to not plot ….it won’t happen again but although I am getting better I still do it….Daphne Du Maurier once threw away 15,000 words at the beginning of a novel,,,we are in good company! Thanks for sharing…Elise

    Reply
  12. Cath,
    So lovely to take a peek into your writing life,
    Can’t wait to meet up and have a gossip at conference,
    Suzi

    Reply
  13. Cath Evans

     /  August 6, 2011

    Hi Elise and Sue,
    I think sharing is the only way we know we’re not alone! I thought I was a lot crazy until I landed in RWA! I’m glad you enjoyed the peek.

    I’m glad we’re in such illustrious company with the discarding, Elise!!

    Cath

    Reply
  14. Okay someone needs to invent night scribbling glasses for us all. Of course they would have to be stylish little numbers that didn’t scare the dogs (or bed partner) LOL!!!!!
    Can you get get pens with lights in the tip. Hmmmmm, maybe there’s a patent in there somewhere. Loved reading about you Cath.

    Reply

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