I’ll be honest: 2012 was meant to be the year I really knuckled down to the writing (just like 2011, 2010 and 2009 – it’s a tradition thing). I was either going to write the novel version of Graves that’s been sitting in my head for a while now, or I was going to churn out a few more shorts and do some sort of collection.

Then a couple of things got in the way: I took on a significant freelance project (unlike the writing, this one paid real money) and we had a baby – pro-tip: babies don’t just sit quietly in the corner; they need feeding and cuddling and, well, they’re just so demanding!

Needless to say, I wasn’t really in a position to concentrate on writing much of substance, but that didn’t stop the ideas coming. which means that I have a whole stockpile of stories I’m just itching to write. Luckily I more or less wrapped up the freelance gig the other week (http://filmink.com.au if anyone’s interested) … but I’m still working on when the baby can pack up and get it’s own place; we’re haggling on somewhere between 6 months and 30 years old. Fortunately the baby does sleep some of the time (and also fits nicely into a soundproof box) so I’ve decided it’s time to get writing again.

Morning is broken

The biggest challenge to me at the moment is time. I’ve been highly inspired by a friend of mine, Joe Barlow (catch up with him at http://twitter.com/JoeBarlowWrites and http://www.joebarlow.com/), who has been rising early every day and simply hurling words at the page, it’s like he has some sort of literary gastric disorder – it’s truly impressive, and also pretty disgusting when you put it that way: good luck to anyone who picks up his finished novel.

I used to be a night owl, but then I had kids, and got a proper job, and suddenly night is that time when I have sleep, glorious, sleep and will slay you if you get in the way of that (see also: babies). I find it intensely difficult to write in fits and starts, although if you check out some of my other ramblings you’ll see I’m trying to ‘train’ myself to write that way. That leaves mornings as my next best option: a time when I’m relatively lucid (in theory), alert and refreshed (in theory) and unlikely to be disturbed (in theory – did I tell you we have kittens too?).

We might work it out

The next step is forming some sort of routine, or workflow, or preferably a combination of both. Previously I did almost all my work in Google Docs – I’d sketch out a synopsis, add a few notes, then start writing the story at the top of the same document. It worked well enough, but after a while I got irritated with constantly scrolling to the bottom of the document to remind myself of my plot structure, and then scrolling back up again to do the actual writing.

More recently I’ve had great success using Evernote for writing plot synopses, character notes and other odds and ends. The advantage here is that I can have one folder per story, with as many ‘notes’ as I need inside each folder. Unlike Google Docs, Evernote isn’t completely painful to use when you want to write edit something on your iPad. Meanwhile, I carry on doing the writing itself in Google Docs (now Google Drive). 

Unfortunately Google Docs is awful if you want to try editing anything on the iPad, and the new Google Drive app doesn’t even have editing features (fail!). This isn’t too much of a big deal: I write on my main PC (or sometimes on my work PC, during lunch), but it’s a bit of hassle if I’m proofing something on the iPad and want to do some line corrections.

Yes, I’ve toyed with dedicated writing tools such as Scrivener, but find that I get distracted with anything that’s too heavily featured. Also, Scrivener for PC doesn’t do quite such a good job of syncing with Dropbox as the Mac version does, which means that anything I write with Scrivener is only really accessible via my home PC. I expect I’ll explore Scrivener again when I eventually start on that novel.

Wooden it be nice

The final step in getting everything ready was to prepare my writing environment (that sounds especially pretentious, but never underestimate the value of having the place where you do your writing ‘just so’). 

For me this was a case of tidying up my home PC a bit: I cleared up the enormous mess of icons on my desktop; I added a few new icons (Evernote, Google Drive, etc) so that I would only ever be one-click away from writing; I switched to large icons just for the hell of it (change of scenery, etc); and I set up a suite of wooden themed desktop backgrounds (dunno why, just thought that having wooden backgrounds would be neutral enough not to be distracting and natural enough to be inspiring).

Now the rest is up to me …