Member post: Alison Clayton-Smith on how she writes – longhand and with her Tibetan Terrier

My aim is to write for at least one 20 minute session a day every day. I have a condition called Fibromyalgia, which means chronic pain and impaired energy levels. I need to pace myself and keep my expectations low. The upside of not being able to work like I used to, is being able to focus on my writing, thanks to a supportive hubby.

For first drafts, I’ve discovered my favourite way of working is to write longhand in an A4 ruled pad resting on a cushion on my knee, whilst sitting on the sofa. This has the benefit, on really bad days, of feeling like minimal effort is required. And I write without editing or review.

Second drafts feel more business-like. I type up and edit at my PC in my little office (or study, which feels nicer, but really requires a roaring fireplace and big armchair, which I don’t have). This feels like work. And yet, once I have typed the first line, there is no difference between this process and the first. I am in flow. The trick is to get the PC started. Rather like the advice that if you’re trying to chicken out of a run, put your kit on and walk to the end of the drive, then decide.

After that, it is a mix of printing off, editing by hand, amending on screen, and so on. I don’t need any particular beverage or snacks, clothing or lucky charms. I am nearly always accompanied by my Tibetan Terrier. He tends to be more mischievous when I work at the PC because I have to have my back to him. He likes to know he is the most important thing in my life at any time he chooses.

Alison Clayton-Smith

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