WHAT TIME OF DAY DO YOU WRITE?
Always in the morning and early afternoon. My brain and focus seems to fade after that. But once I begin, it only takes me five minutes to get back into my characters’ heads again and the writing usually flows easily. The killer to production can be procrastination. In Lisa Heidke’s session on writing the first draft at the RWA conference in Melbourne in August [an awesome event, btw] her simple advice was to tell yourself “I am a writer” and just say “No”. Put your creativity commitment up high in your day, read a lot, write a lot, but just write that first draft. It’s the process I – and I suspect many other authors – always find the most difficult and it spring from being out of balance with your writing. Those blank pages and computer screens can be scary, and confidence plunges.
WHERE DO YOU WRITE? DO YOU HAVE YOUR OWN SPECIAL PLACE?
Yes, I am very fortunate to have my own special place, an office, with a door I can shut! As Stephen King suggests on page 121 of his memoir work On Writing, “…the space can be humble and it really needs only one thing: a door which you are willing to shut. The closed door is your way of telling the world and yourself that you mean business…” . I need absolute silence for concentration and to lose myself in the work then I can see my story people moving around in my head and they talk to me, and the writing comes. I have a long desk where I write at one end and have my laptop at the other. Behind me is a wall of bookshelves and cupboards for storage, and to my side is a window with glass prisms hanging from the lower panes that fling colour onto the slate floor in winter and through which I can keep track of the changing seasons in my native garden.
DO YOU SPEND MUCH TIME READING OVER THE PREVIOUS DAY’S WORK?
Not really but it’s the place where I start each day. I may reread the previous 4 or 5 pages to get back into the flow and mood, know where my characters are at and continue their story. I may tinker with minor rewriting and editing, changing anything that might leap out at me, begging for change, but after that I move on with the day’s work.
ARE YOU A PLOTTER/PLANNER OR PANTSER?
Absolutely a plotter. Always have been and always will be. By nature, I am an organised punctual person [which means I am invariably kept waiting in life J ]. I need to know what I’m doing, where I’m going, plan what’s for dinner early in the day so it’s sorted and my brain is clear for the day’s writing, for example. My first planning is always with the story people from whom flow all sorts of questions. Amazingly they usually tell me their background and story fairly well but if not then I just keep asking “Why?” and they emerge.
The setting is also usually mostly clear to me in the beginning. I roughly know the story I want to tell, who’s in it and where it takes place. From there, as boring as it might sound to a pantser, I plot out most scenes in order. Certainly the major scenes and what needs to be revealed to tell the story. A few things might change but since I am a person who likes to know where I’m going and when, it works for me to know the structure in advance and definitely helps me write a novel straight through without many hitches or writer’s block.
DO YOU HAVE A SCHEDULE THAT YOU FOLLOW FOR YOUR WRITING TIME? ARE YOU A GOAL SETTER WITH YOUR WRITING?
Going back to the previous question, yes. J Because I’m like that. I have yearly goals and usually aim for two novel length books. I mostly achieve it although this year I spent a lot of time retyping and editing my early manuscripts to put up on Kindle and Smashwords as ebooks to keep my backlist out there for readers. So that took up time in which I may have achieved another novel. At the moment, I’m working on an Australian historical novel and plan to finish the nasty first draft by the end of the year. So I guess since it’s a longer novel, it could equate to two but that might be cheating on my goal a bit. While it’s resting and before I go back to it with rewriting and subsequent drafts, I’m hoping to complete planning out a series trilogy over summer and write them next year. Three shorter 50,000 word romances, not hinging on each other but using the same town setting and mutual characters.
WHAT WRITING TOOLS DO YOU FAVOUR?
Oh, I just love pens. One of my first blogs was about the joy of them. I simply adore holding thick 1.0+ pens and my current recently-discovered favourite is a Bic Atlantis 1.2. All my writing is done with them on an A4 notepad by longhand. Even after I type it up – am exploring Windows’ own free speech recognition software at the moment for dictating my handwritten drafts instead of typing – I print out my pages and also rewrite and edit by pen. It just seems the most natural way for me to work. My hand can keep up with my brain. When I’ve tried to type directly into the laptop, it doesn’t have the same depth of focus for me to create. I find longhand relaxing, with not the same tendency to rush that happens on the computer, because my earlier career as a private secretary and touch typist means I tend to flash across the keyboard and want to get the words down too fast. Not the best method for the creative process. At least, in my case.
IS YOUR WRITING SPACE MESSY, ORGANISED OR SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN? ARE YOU PREPARED TO SHOW EVIDENCE OF YOUR CLAIM WITH A DESK PHOTO?
My desk, as you can clearly see from the photo, is usually littered with printed pages of work, pens, notepads, and A5 notes on which I continually scrawl when a phrase or description or piece of dialogue pops into my head for another scene whilst working on the current one, etc. plus fat Marbig folders of research notes for my historicals easily to hand for constant reference. The laptop is probably too close and a distraction with emails but I find I often need to look up a single fact or research verification point, so that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. J
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FORM OF PROCRASTINATION?
Tending to emails in the morning probably but since I need to have my mind clear for the day’s writing, I find it works for me to read and keep up with them all, answer or respond to any and then get down to work. I can also just make one more cuppa and play just one more game of mah-jong or Bejeweled, a recent challenging discovery thanks to my six year old granddaughter. Need to control myself and set the timer for those, or keep them as rewards after the day’s writing quota is done.
My newest release just out is the Thorndike Press large print edition of my Avalon Romance, LOVING LUCY. My latest romance is a My Weekly Pocket Novel titled WOMBAT CREEK and my first Australian historical novel BARRATT’S RUN is due for release in April 2012. My current works in progress are another Australian historical saga and a romance trilogy.
My web address is http://www.noelenejenkinson.com
My blog is via my website or http://noelenejenkinson.blogspot.com/
Thank you so much, Noelene, for participating. We wish you every success with your latest release.