Marie Kondo and Writing


I have begun my ruthless war on the stuff and clutter in both my tiny studio flat and my writing life.I am hoping that with a decluttered living space and a decluttered mind I will regain the joy of writing.

The theory behind the extreme decluttering is that you should only keep things you actually use and things which bring you joy. When I do handwriting these days I tend to use fountain pens and have five of them each with a different colour ink cartridge. I have a small collection of biros which fit nicely in my hand and with which I can write neatly. These I have kept. All the biros which have sneaked in from work are being returned there. I do not use them and they cluttered up my repurposed enamel teapot. Likewise all the small pairs of scissors which somehow got back here and ended up in my dry goods measuring cup. They are being returned to work too.

I have put all the ink cartridges in a small glass pot where they are tidy, secure and make a nice decoration on the corner of the desk.

All the rest of the tut which found its way onto my desk during the month has either been put in it’s proper place or binned. The result is a nice clear and clutter free desk where I am surrounded only by the items I need to write. Already I am feeling good here and inspired to write.

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Using questions to …


Using questions to incorporate your research into the storyline

This is a technique beloved of crime writers everywhere. The “rookie” asks the “expert” a question which allows the writer to explain background information, character analysis, the howdunnit and the expert analysis. It is a technique which you can use to incorporate the technical information into your story.

One way to do this, is to create a scene where one person is an “expert” and has to explain something to a newbie. It could be a sailor explaining how to tie knots to a trainee or a coroner explaining how to carry out a procedure on a dead body.

This technique is also a good way of getting your research into your story , as long as it is not overused. In my novel Weaver of Words, I wanted to explain to the reader how the process of creating and distributing underground works happened in 1970s Czechoslovakia. I created the character of a printer whose job it was to distribute the retyped manuscripts. The group leader explained to a new convert how the process happened and her role in it. In this way, I incorporated the material I had gathered from a printing museum. The new recruit asked enough questions to keep that section of the story moving and set up the next part of the story.

Used sparingly, this is, I think, a good technique to use.