A dear writer friend of mine, Janis Pegrum Smith, has just started a blog sharing her experiences as a indie writer – i.e. one who writes and then self-publishes her own work, just as I do. The blog is called – aptly – All on Your Jack Jones, and in her first post Janis passes on some excellent advice that she was given by Bernard Cornwell (a chap who knows a thing or two about writing bestselling historical fiction): just write.
In recent weeks I have found myself somewhat blocked as a writer. In fairness to myself, I have been very busy at the day job (three overseas trips in November alone) and also fighting various minor ailments (the joy that is root canal work, and now a delightful cold caught from one of the eighty-seven people sneezing in my train carriage last week). In other words, there has not been a lot of quality, unwoolly head-space left for producing top-notch historical fiction. But over this weekend I have forced myself to turn on the Mac in the back bedroom (regular readers may remember that I keep an old Macbook called Flora [after Flora MacDonald…] specifically for the Sam novels, so that I can keep him entirely separate from the day work on my Windows laptop) and – to paraphrase our chum Bernard – just do something that contributes to the writing. It’s less snappy, I’ll grant you that, but I really think it might have cleared that blockage.
So what somethings have I done? Well, I have tweeted about Diamond Tales, the sparkling initiative with which I am involved during December. I have done a lot of research into London printing presses in 1828 and what they looked like and what they were producing. (You’ll see why when “Plank 5” comes out.) And I have allowed myself to add a few more pictures to my Plankish Pinterest board, and experiment with dividing it into book-themed sections (a new Pinterest feature). I’m not a particularly visual thinker – it’s all about the words for me – but by exploring websites that I might not usually visit I have picked up a couple of very interesting details to drop casually into my plot. And how I love a casual plot point…
And here’s the real surprise of it all: once I had paddled around in the printing press and Pinterest and plot point shallows, I thought, well, I’ll just write that quick description while it’s fresh in my mind. And before I knew it, I had written – actually written – nearly a thousand words. Thanks, Janis and Bernard!