The WRs, Aiden Turner and 6 billion post-it notes: it’s all in the planning.

aidan-turner-poldarkThe Write Romantics have a secret. I’ve said it now, it’s out there. Don’t get too excited, it’s nothing that involves weird rituals or complicated handshakes, and certainly nothing involving dalliances with celebrities you could sell to the Sun newspaper. More’s the pity. That said some of us do have Pinterest boards that might make Aidan Turner want to take out a restraining order…

Our real ‘secret’, though, is the private Facebook group we use. It’s like a virtual watercooler around which the ten of us meet to gossip, complain, share and celebrate our writing lives and beyond. It helps stave off the loneliness that can come with being a writer and it’s also a brilliant source of information.

Just recently, Alys, who teaches creative writing, as well as creating fantastic fantasy and steampunk novels, asked us to tell her our methods for organising writing ideas, so that she could share these with her students. Suffice it to say that, as a pantster, I learnt a lot and I promised to share the responses here. I hope you enjoy it and we’d love you to comment if you have your own methods. Let’s face it, I for one still have a lot to learn.

Jo x

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Alys

I’m a notebook and photos kind of person. I had a pinterest board for my steampunk book that I used while I was writing, but mainly for fab pictures of clothes, hats and steamcars!

Helen R

I make notes on my iPhone and then email to myself… I have a file in Hotmail with lots of ideas now! I don’t think I have time to write them all though. Once upon a time it was a notepad but now phone is easier as I always have it with me. When I start a new book I have a new file and stash away photos, drafts, character notes etc

Jackie

I have a whiteboard for particular stories and stickies on the computer. I also use three separate pages of ‘notes’ on my iPad for names, titles and emotions. Although don’t let this give you entirely the wrong impression, I also usually have a whole heap paper in my ‘office’.

Helen P

I use Pinterest boards for every book, notebooks and I have a notice board for each book where I pin my pictures and postit-169631_960_720ideas. I also use a whiteboard to keep track of characters and plot strands. Evernote on my phone is great too, when I’m awake at 4 am but can’t be bothered getting out of bed to write it down! Oh, and post-its. Lots of them.

Jo

I have a little black book and notes on the pc, but I am a disorganised pantster so would not want to give anyone my advice. I tried Pinterest once, but then I forgot to go on there for ages and now I can’t remember the password… Are you sensing a theme here?

Lynne

I email stuff to myself and store it in a file called ‘inspiration’ and I have a notebook with me all the time and one by the bed to jot nocturnal notes in.

Deirdre

I have nice hardback notebooks, plus little one for my bedside table and even smaller one for my handbag which I always forget to take, but that’s the theory. I’ve got a computer file labelled ideas but never remember it’s there, so the notebooks work best for me. I also keep a file of cuttings from newspapers etc which might trigger ideas and a Pinterest board to store images.

Rachael

I have a special notebook where I write each new idea. It might be a title, or just a sentence, but each idea has its own page. As the idea develops in my mind, I then open a file on my computer for it and add photos, info etc and build it that way.

pinterestSharon

I use a secret Pinterest board for each book. I jot ideas that pop into my head on my phone then I write up rough story ideas on the computer. When it’s time to pull it all together and start plotting and going into motivation, theme etc, I use a notebook. I also have a pinboard with a timeline worked out for a couple of characters and a complete list of all the Kearton Bay characters’ birthdays and the ages they’ll be in each book.

Jessica

I use a mix of post it notes and other little notes hiding in a drawer and a file on my mac which has ideas for titles and ideas for concepts.

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We hope you enjoyed hearing how we capture our writing ideas, now over to you.

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Guest Blogger, Claire Haywood, tells us about “New Starts”

It’s coming to that time of the year when we look back and see what we have achieved (or not!) and start to think about the new year. This year, I made a start on writing. It wasn’t something I planned to do. I am a reader, a crazy reader too – I always have at least 3 books on the go and through my book group I have been introduced to lots of different genres, so I’m not fussy about what I read, I’m like a literary magpie. But writing? I guess I may have thought of it, and enjoyed it at school, but I hadn’t made a start.

But then there was Jo. A lovely friend from junior school where we shared desks, a love of learning, whizzing through the English activities, and ponies.

school

I was heartbroken when we went to different secondary schools, but life continued and we immediately and inevitably lost touch. This year, I am so thrilled to say that she’s back in my life and we have made a new start on our friendship. We have so many years to talk about, 3 children between us, many ups and downs concerning our lives to share and it is writing that has been the glue. Jo, Write Romantic and writer has lit the fire for my new start – writing.

Typically for me, I started by getting organised. I thought seriously about writing longhand, I love a sharp pencil and some beautiful paper to get my ideas down on, but I realised quickly that this wasn’t going to work. So I bought a lap top, just for my writing. An extravagant gift to myself but one that felt I needed to get started. I read all the old posts on this blog and wondered at the journeys of the writers here, how they made their starts, what they have achieved, the excitement and possibility of being published. All the time I questioned whether that could that ever be me? And then there was the most obvious thing, the thing that I could not organise, I needed an idea. This is where the support from my wonderful Write Romantic friend has been invaluable. Jo allowed me to realise that my prize winning idea, the thing that I was excited about writing and made me sign up for the ride, really wasn’t going to work. So I decided to go back to the drawing board and think about what I could bring to a story by looking at my life experience and now I am decided on my book. The subject is something close to my heart and something I know about, so I am starting from a point of confidence. I am still not sure which direction it is going in, but I understand that this is okay!

I joined the Nano event in November and one evening I wrote my first thousand words. This is where I started to learn about myself as a writer and I realised that for all my organisation I had no idea how to set my ideas out so they look and read like a book. I have lots of characters and getting them into the story was causing me trouble. So, I started again and re-wrote the start of that first chapter. Nobody told me that you have to have guts and bravery for this writing lark, because once you have written a little bit, you need someone to read your words to see if you are on the right track. I chose my English teacher husband, he was there and I needed an immediate answer that he thought my writing was, at the very least, okay. I have never felt more exposed. I couldn’t stay in the room when he was reading and made excuses for my style (shouting from the kitchen!) and the fact that I hadn’t written anything since school. I realised that it actually mattered to me. When I returned to the sitting room, he was smiling, and now I know that I have made that start.

I am not finding it easy. I have a crazy busy job and arrive home most nights far too late to make much of anything. I failed to make the grade with Nano and did not get beyond that first chapter, a very weak effort. We are now moving house and so not much will be achieved in the next few weeks. However, life will settle and I really, really want to try to complete my book. I have amazing support with Jo (who has offered to read for me from now onwards) and my husband who is also a frustrated writer. This blog has been great too as just knowing that others find it a challenge makes me feel like I am among friends.

So, what about next year? Well, I am determined to make some new starts for myself. The first will be to join the New Writers scheme in January – I actually have my alarm set for January the first, I am that determined to get my application in. Then the timescale is set for me, I need to come up with that book and get it finished by August, I am sure that this is something that I can achieve and I have the best part of eight months to get there. Nano in 2014? Yes, I think I will do it again and this will be my second book, for which I already have an idea and change of genre, and that one will be teen fiction. I hope that in the next few years I will be able to add ‘writer’ to the things that I do and I know that when I do get there I will have never felt so proud.

Claire