My go-to mode for writing is ‘chaos’. I write standing at my kitchen counter while supervising lunch for little people, on my lap in bed, on a notepad in a coffee shop, while watching the TV… and generally surrounded by screaming and yelling. I have dreams of writing in a peaceful place – maybe somewhere tranquil by the sea, or a secluded little hidey-hole in the forest (something gingerbread cottage, but friendlier) but the closest I get is my garden and three children communicating at top volume. Always top volume.
And I don’t just write in chaos. I also write chaos. At the moment, I have two stories open, side by side, in my word programme, and I am happy to hop alternately between them adding sentences. Or, I’ll walk by my open laptop and add a paragraph to one. If I’m editing, things get a bit more confusing because then the first two stories double as wallpaper with the editing open over the top. And if I’m reading someone else’s work, too? My word docs are like lots of pretty Russian nesting dolls. Makes it harder to find stuff, though.
And don’t even get my started on my many works in progress. I love, love, love pretty notebooks (that may be a blog post all to itself) but I’m not such a good, organised, writer that I keep my notes in one. No. Whenever I think of a new idea for a story, I start a beginning. It can be a few lines, or a few pages, but just enough to get my initial thoughts, or the general feeling down. Sometimes, this odd habit works, other times I re-read something and haven’t got a clue what the next bit would have been.
Like, for that story I threw together in the last post, I might jot down something like this:
Sadie Appleton didn’t know too much about the ocean. She didn’t even know how she’d come to be in the middle of it. But she did have a fairly good idea that sea water wasn’t for breathing, and that she should probably have paid more attention to those swimming classes when she was five.
Then, if I was being good, I’d organise a few bullet points underneath. Just to jog my memory.
Because, already in my beginnings folder, I probably have about five. Not all of them have merit, but a few might have a kernel of something.
Do you compulsively write beginnings, or work in chaos?