Monday, 5 April 2010

How you write - Part 7 - Sophie Playle

(I've cut the 'Tell me' at the beginning of the series title - it felt a bit laboured. This may change again as it still doesn't quite feel right but we'll see.)

I'm always excited to read how each writer has responded to my questions, and to see the patterns and differences in the way we work. Here's Sophie Playle with her piece, quite out of sync with the majority of the writers we've featured so far. Enjoy.

I wish I was one of those writers who fill beautiful notebooks, have stacks of them lining the shelves and spilling over the desk, waiting to be mined for rare gems of creativity. But I’m not. I love beautiful notebooks. I collect beautiful notebooks. But I can barely bring myself to taint them with my scribbles.

I tried buying cheap notebooks, but I couldn’t even fill those. My writing hand moves ten times slower than my typing hand. It can’t keep up with my brain. And my hand gets cramped and I have horrible flash-backs of GCSE exams.

I like to type. I like the feel and tap of the keys.

My hands can fly over the keyboard. I can type almost as fast as I can think. It is through this electronic instrument that my brain can engage most smoothly with my writing. I don’t have to think about typing. It is the path of least resistance.

I like how non-committal the screen is. I can write, delete, edit, move bits around, create various versions of stories easily with copy/paste/delete/type. It’s so versatile.

And it has spell check.

Occasionally I write down the odd thing into a notebook, if I can’t get to my laptop. But it is usually just a little reminder to myself, so that when I get to my laptop I don’t draw a blank at that ‘great’ idea I had on the train.

My brain is most creative when I’m in the bath. Obviously, that’s a problem, because I can’t use my laptop in the bath without risk of a) ruining my laptop and b) death. So I usually jump out of the bath, re-energised, and pop open a Word document while half sitting/lying in my bed and undoubtedly mishapening my spine even more than it already is.

For the most part, I need silence when I write, especially when re-writing. I need to hear my thoughts. But as of late, I’ve been listening to The Proposition soundtrack (by Nick Cave – proper good minimalistic stuff). I usually listen to movie soundtracks. It is probably the lack of vocals and the strong sense of atmosphere that these soundtracks evoke that make them good for me to write to. I sometimes listen to Phillip Glass, who again writes minimalistic music and who has also written for film. The music helps me connect to the creative part of my brain and shut off the critical part while I’m getting down a first draft.

I would love my own writing office. It would free up nearly all the space in my bedroom, as I’d be able to keep my books in there. I’d get a nice desk, a few thick church candles, a bonzi tree, and a good comfy chair (maybe two chairs – one for the desk, one for reading in), and I’d lock myself in and write.

Sophie Playle was born in 1987 in the South East of England, UK. She writes fiction by night, works for a publisher by day, and runs lit-mag 'Inkspill Magazine' in the gaps of time in between. She blogs about all this at:

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