Monthly Archives: March 2018

The Messy Writing Process

Ernest Hemmingway’s messy desk

Writing is messy work.  At least it is for me.

As someone who has suffered the occasional addictions to The Food Network on those random lazy Saturday mornings, I relate it to being a chef who just can’t keep his workstation clean.  No matter what I’m working on, I have a tendency to bounce back and forth between typing it out on the laptop, and scribbling out barely legible words on the printed page. There are a number of binders spread across the desk containing hundreds of printed pages as well. And hopefully some extra ink cartridges buried in the mess somewhere. They’re always needed…

It’s like having every spice from the cabinet sitting out on the counter. Piles of vegetable peelings still on the cutting board. Dirty knives, measuring cups and measuring spoons still within reach rather than in the sink (or in the  dishwasher). It’s not the best setup, I’ll admit it. But it’s worked.

It’s actually a lot like my last trip to the grocery store.  I went to the closest one in the area as I only needed one item – garbage bags.  This weirdly unique store is huge, well-stocked, and completely matching the way I see everything in Fayette County – random in where absolutely everything is located.

I found their Christmas items.  I found paper plates and plastic silverware (7 aisles apart from each other).  I found lawnmower oil and canned vegetables- right next to each other. And I found hot dogs and rat poison so close together it made me think…  And, after twenty minutes, I’d found almost everything they had to offer before finally – completely by absolute luck – stumbling across the garbage bags, located directly in between the circus peanuts (they really still make those?) and the mustard.  Seriously?  I don’t think it could have been more random.  Though, when I took them to the register and had to wait for a confused employee to ring up romaine lettuce for the person in front of me, and she couldn’t find it in the system because she was trying to spell ‘romaine’ without an ‘R’, I thought I was simply being punked.

However…it made me think about some of my own processes and somewhat disorganized ways. And as certain situations have given me even more motivation to write lately, I’ve decided to take up a new approach. Writing software.

Has anyone out there used Scrivener?  That’s my new challenge. It seems like a great program, and it seems like there’s lots to do with it, but guess what… I always seem to skip reading the instructions.  It’s cool that I can add pictures to remind me what places and characters look like, and that there are places for all of my research and notes.  I just need to get used to it.

I have a number of characters to add in for my next novel, so it’s a good time to really start using it.  I was going to have a character who works part-time as a Walmart cashier.  But I may have to move her to the local supermarket. Even if that would mean I’d have to go in there often to do research.  And to see how they spell things like romaine…