There is a reason I like to write in the dead of night. It’s not just that my subject matter is hardly suited to sunshine and bird song, blue skies and the sinister cackle of a knife-holding child… wait, scratch that last one.
Some writers like to have music playing. Some like the TV on in the background. Some like to work in the white noise of a busy cafe. I prefer silence. Utter, complete silence. And a candle burning, always.
For me, when the story gets going, I’m there. I’m in the world of the story, writing it down as it happens in my head. I’m barely conscious of the real world at all. Eyes, hands, keyboard and screen floating in the story world. I really see the crumbs of dirt dropping from the fingers of a rising zombie. I see the wall explode and fill someone’s face with brick shards. I type fast, catching it all in real time and when it’s flowing, it’s really flowing.
I have genuinely worn the letters off keyboards 😉
Yet all it takes is one ‘hello’ or a doorbell or a letter through the postbox and I snap back to reality. Story world is gone and it’s difficult to get back into. If my phone buzzes with a text, or rings, or something bleeps, story writing can be over for hours, even until the next day. That’s why I have no notifications turned on for anything. I’ll check them when I finish writing.
So I write in the dead of night when everyone is asleep, nobody is going to come to the door or phone me, no traffic I can’t ignore, no music playing anywhere and all the noisy children are securely caged and sedated for the night.
This place is ideal. After about 10 pm, nothing happens at all. Occasional cars pass by but I can ignore those. They can be a passing car in story world, not part of the story so not included. No big trucks or boy racers. The neighbours are pretty much silent, sometimes I hear footsteps from the flat next door but not often enough to be an issue. The other residents rise early for work while I start at 3 pm most days so they are fast asleep when I write, and I have never heard loud music or partying from the other flats.
When I started out I joined a critique site called Critique Circle. It was an enormous help to me and I’ve just got back to visiting. I dropped visits in the dark times which was very very bad of me because I’m a moderator on the site. It’s good to find I still am.
It is so much easier to not be a writer, or to be the floppy hat and cape type who claim to be a writer but don’t. I saw a link today to seven reasons to be ‘a writer’ without writing anything and they are good.
Here is a quick summary of the main points –
- Inspiration. No problem. It’s hammering on your door. Just listen.
- Watching behind. There is nothing behind. All your problems are ahead. The shit behind is gone. The shit to come is the problem
- Pretend that knowing how to write doesn’t matter… is like building a car pretending that knowing how to weld is of no importance. It rarely ends well.
- Publishing is a business. Find the business that wants to sell what you have.
- Write interesting stuff and new stuff. Forget the current trend, be the next one.
- Don’t rely on family for reading your work, get someone brutally honest to check it out. And if they find a fault, don’t be offended. Fix it.
- Or just give it up and flip burgers until you retire.
I won’t give up. I don’t think I know how. Maybe I will never make a living at writing but I love doing it so I’ll keep going.
Most of all, it’s a lot of fun!