Welcome to week seven of the Process Project!! If you don’t know about us already, please visit The Process Project page to find out more about this project, and read interviews with other authors.
Today is a continuation of yesterday’s interview with the lovely Louise Lindley (like that alliteration there? ;)). To read the firstpart of her interview, click here! Today we are going to talk to Louise about how she writes! On to the questions!
JB: When do your best ideas come to you? What are your best brainstorming times?
Walking the dog and in the bath! Occasionally, last thing at night when I get into bed. When I was at the end of Bruises, about to write the last chapter, I knew how it was going to end but I couldn’t figure out what the order of events would be. I also wanted to give you something that would make you want book 2. I was lying in bed one night staring at the ceiling, my mind turning over. My husband was in the bathroom and walked out to me all of a sudden saying ‘OMG, that’s it, that’s what I have to do…’ He gave me that ‘she really has lost it this time!’ look, and offered to go back into the bathroom and come out again. I had the perfect ending…
To be honest, inspiration can come from anywhere, often when you’re least expecting it.
JB: What is your writing routine? Do you have any writing rituals?
LL: As a busy mum of boys who are now 6 & 8, I can’t be too choosy about where, when and how I write. I pick up whatever I’m working on in the oddest of places: while watching swimming lessons; in the school playground; the doctor’s office. I’ve been known to sit with a head full of foils under the dryer, tapping away!
When I’m at home I can get a little carried away if I’m really into a story. I might be sat at the table I use, overlooking the garden, in the afternoon, or I might be sat on the couch in the evening, after the boys have gone to bed. I can fully absorb myself in my work wherever I am, especially in the busy coffee shop where I wrote most of my first (& second) novel. I nearly always have a large bottle of water on the go, but as a dedicated caffeine addict I love to sip a latté too. One thing I do like to do is spread myself out, but then I do that with everything -cooking, crafting, sewing, putting my makeup on, getting dressed… I like space so I can access all my iThings, notebooks, pen case etc. easily. When I tie my hair back I have a habit of ramming a pencil into the ponytail for easy access, often forgetting it’s still there when I leave wherever I am!
JB: When you are preparing to write a new story, what kinds of techniques or methods do you use to organize your ideas?
LL: I love notebooks! I have at least 3 or 4 on the go at one time, one of which is currently my 365 journal that I write something in everyday. I also have a quote journal, and I’m tweeting a quote every day. When I first began writing I had no idea where my story came from, it just kind of evolved while out walking the dog and listening to music. I then threw down all my ideas for characters and story line in a battered old notebook I found on a shelf in my husband’s study (I think his tax receipts were supposed to be recorded in it but it was empty!). In no particular order, anything and everything I thought of became notes. Then I broke it down into sections, a summary of each character – what they looked like, personality, family history, work history, etc.. The story became mind maps in the form of rough chapters. I have known the ending of each novel before I began to write; my story might have changed slightly along the way, but essentially I always knew exactly where it was going to end up. Then I started to write, working through the notebook, ticking off the bits I’d used. I recently got to know a mum at my boys’ school, who is also writing her first novel. She has a background in animation scripts, so she showed me how she organizes her thoughts, and it was interesting to learn that a more professional approach was actually a similar process to my more amateur attempts that I’d developed naturally. The most useful thing I learned was that she used Post-It notes in her notebook, so she could move them around her story board. I am in the process of trying this myself now with my fourth novel, and so far I like it.
JB: When you’re on the road and ideas come to you, what do you usually do?
LL: I always have a notebook… always!
JB: While you are working on a piece, do you have any particular way that you structure your work?
LL: I write each chapter as a separate file, but save them to one folder – in more than one location, my hard drive & in Dropbox. I try to keep my notes together as much as possible, but honestly if anyone looked through one of my notebooks they would never believe it was turned into a novel. I was much clearer in my first two novels (which are essentially one story I cut in half) where it was going & how I was going to get there, so it was fairly easy to structure. With my third, I tried out some different approaches: I wrote in in the first person; I started the book at the end of the story and then took you through the events that led up to the main character being in the situation she was in… it felt odd at first and took some planning, but once I was into it, it was fun to write!
JB: When it's time to revise/edit your work, do you have any particular methods that you use to help you through the process?
LL: I always read a chapter through when I’ve finished it, just to correct my dyslexic fingers and make sure what I’ve written does actually make some sense. I find I can read something a gazillion times before I notice something so obvious. I failed English at school, my grammar and punctuation is appalling (& don’t even get my husband started on my spelling!), as far as I’m concerned as long as my imagination and basic story structure is there, I let the professionals (i.e. my husband!) worry about the rest. I always read the ‘finished’ work from beginning to end before I start any sort of editing, and nearly always on my phone so I’m not tempted to correct any minor mistakes, I just read it like a book and make notes of any major changes I want to make. I have a very supportive group of close friends who love to read my work and give honest feedback. One of my biggest critics is my mother-in-law, who can look beyond all the bad bits and constructively criticize the deeper aspects of the book. I changed the story slightly in my first novel as a result of this and it worked much better. Essentially, editing for me is just going back over it enough times that I’m happy it works.
JB: Is there any advice you can give to writers struggling to get the words flowing?
LL: You have to believe in yourself and write what you want to read. Don’t write what you think people want you to write, write it for yourself, the way you would want to read it. We all have our own styles, it will make you more comfortable and confident with your work and hopefully encourage the words to flow better.
Write something everyday, doesn’t matter what it is, the shocking weather… what you had for breakfast… the fool who thinks he can still get through the closing doors on the Skytrain...what your kids said when you told them they’re going to Legoland on vacation (mine don’t actually know yet so don’t tell them!)...or just simply how you’re feeling that day. WRITE. IT. ALL. DOWN. You never know when you might want to go back through all that nonsense and use it.
I want to extend a HUGE thank you to Louise for providing such rich answers to our questions! I hope you enjoyed her story as much as I did! Thanks Louise!!!!
You can follow her on the web here!
And you can get your copy of her debut novel, Bruises!