I don’t have a room in the house separate from everywhere else where I go to write. My house is fairly small so it wouldn’t be possible. I’d attempt to convert the cupboard at the top of the stairs but then there would be nowhere else to put all the clutter. Most of my writing is usually done on my laptop in my front room. It’s the same room as my games consoles and the TV which is probably why I have some nights when I don’t get much done. I used to have a battered, blue armchair that I sat in, it was given to us for free by friends when we first moved into this house six years ago. It was a little bit uncomfortable so we saved up a few months ago and bought a new sofa. It’s chocolate brown with purely cushions, my five year old son’s first reaction to it was to say “Dairy Milk”.
Many basic ideas start life in a moleskin notebook I bought a few years back. The pages are faintly lined, I’ve never liked to write on anything in which the lines are massive, thick things. On the inside front cover I’ve written out the poem ‘Invictus’ purely for the final lines of ‘I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul’. This usually comes in quite handy if I’m having a bad day at work and feeling like a career in writing is a far away thing. The opposite page has some spirograph pictures, mainly because I had the equipment one day and I was bored. It was around this time I learned that even a small shift of one millimetre will ruin a spirograph completely. I also keep newspaper cuttings in the back if the content has somehow inspired me. Most of the ideas are one basic sentence followed by a whole load of questions to pick it apart. I usually end up scrawling things like ‘Would robots bleed oil?’ and ‘How fast would you become a ghost if you die?’. I don’t tend to carry this notebook around with me all the time. For the most part, it lives at home by my bed.
Pens are important and need to have a nice middle ground. I hate using cheap biros as it just looks like you’re scratching the page. You need a decent pen. Nothing gold plated or anything like that, just something with a good grip and a decent amount of ink.
There was a debate over on Shooting People a few weeks ago about how much planning did each individual writer do before they started their scripts in earnest. Some planned in great detail, writing out massive scene by scene breakdowns and character profiles whilst others just went for it without any planning at all. Personally I have an idea and a basic character outline thought up but unwritten. I’ll then write the first five minutes of the script of the bat, no pausing, no stopping to check it over and no fussing about where it’s going. After I’ve done that I’ll read it back and ask myself if I’d be excited if I was watching this. Would I, as a viewer, want to find out what happens next. If it’s a negative then I’ll leave it there and move onto something else. This doesn’t mean I’ll ditch the idea all together, more that it’ll be put to one side and either improved upon later or have its elements broken down for other scripts. If it clicks then I’ll sit down and work out the rest and go back to it with all the planning done. It’s pretty much like having the best of both worlds and it means that you’re not faced with blank page syndrome when you finally do get down to it.
I write in the evenings, mainly once I’ve got home from work and put my son to bed. Writing doesn’t happen every night which is probably why I’m a bit slow to get started. Minus deadlines it’ll usually be a couple of months to get something readable from scratch.
First drafts are only every read by myself, second drafts go around a small group of friends which will then lead up to a third draft. This is the draft that gets sent out to anybody who’s interested in putting it on/filming it. Further rewrites are usually after much discussion.
I usually drink coffee when writing, mainly because it relaxes me. I don’t often drink alcohol during the process, it warps my inner critic and gives me a false sense of security.
Chocolate also helps, dry roasted peanuts if I’m feeling vaguely healthy. I don’t often have dry roasted peanuts.
I’ve probably yet to find the perfect set up for writing, I tend to write in fits and starts. Some weeks will see me rattling through pages and pages of material at once but this will usually be followed by another few weeks of nothing.
I’m pretty lazy when it comes to it.