Debut author Rosie Blake explains about the essentials she needs to get writing.
You might have noticed the big clock in the shape of a heart on the cover of my debut novel How to Get a (Love) Life, which represents the time Nicola Brown has to search for a date. Nicola is good with time, organisation and routine. Rosie Blake is less so. I am often asked what my writing routine is like. When this happens, I go all mumbly and red and make up lies about pie charts and reward schemes when really I am thinking: ‘There is no routine. No one day is the same.’ But that’s not strictly true, so I thought I would share some of the things I absolutely need to make sure I am churning out some words that day.
My Writing Essentials
A laptop – Handwriting slows me down. I get all achy and want to correct things so I tend to work best straight to a screen. It makes me feel sad, like I’m not a proper writer because I can’t write on a picnic rug by a river supping tea from a thermos flask. But I know if I went to the river, I would pick daisies and stare a dogs and smile at children, so I am safest with my laptop in my house.
A chapter outline – Even if it is just a sentence or two, I have to know who is in the chapter, where the chapter is set and what I want to achieve from the chapter. Then I can get going. I am not a thorough planner, but if I don’t have this starting point, I will never start.
Tea – Earl Grey to be precise. It doesn’t feel the same unless I have a mug by my side and normally some kind of biscuit too. It often gets cold and I forget and take a swig and then feel silly and return to the kitchen to start again, but I have to begin the session with it by me.
Silence – I have no idea how people work to music. If a song is on, I am listening to it, possibly dancing to it. At the very least, I’m humming it and shaking a shoulder or two. I can’t hear two things at once so music is pointless when I’m writing.
A deadline – Even if it is self-imposed, I love writing to deadline. Maybe it is simply a rough number of words I want to produce that hour, but if I know I am going to be checking up on myself (or worse asking my husband to check up on me), then I need to set a target to focus on. Word races with other writers are a great way to get some words down in the first instance. Then I can go from there.
So, there you have it. My not very routine, routine.
I can safely say I put Nicola Brown to shame.
Some people book last-minute holidays, walk barefoot in the grass or party on a week night. Not Nicola Brown. Nicola is the kind of girl who double-locks the front door, leaves the plastic covering on new furniture, sticks to a super-strict diet and definitely, absolutely Does Not Date.
Her colleague Caroline – loopy, warm and exasperated by her, knows that Nicola’s reluctance to lose control means she’s living only half a life. And so she lays down the gauntlet: Nicola must cast aside her hang-ups and go on as many dates as it takes to find true love in time for Valentine’s Day.
The pick of local men is, quite frankly, a bit rubbish. And there are only three months until February 14th. Surely it’s an impossible task? But, as Nicola is about to find out on her dodgy dates, letting go isn’t quite as scary as she imagined. In fact, it’s rather a lot of fun.
Rosie Blake spent her university years writing pantomimes based on old classics. The 2003 production of The Wizard of Odd: Search for the Ruby Strippers enjoyed critical acclaim. This was followed a year later with a successful showing of Harry Potter: The Musical (complete with moving opening number, In my Cupboard I will Stay). Rosie went on to write a winning short story in the LaSenza/Little Black Dress Short Story Competition and was shortlisted in a few others including competitions run by Women and Home and The Daily Mail.