Thursday, 28 September 2017

Laura Wilkinson's Writing Toolkit

WRITING TOOLKIT gives you an idea of an author's writing process through the tools they use. The tools can be anything (real or virtual) that they think is essential for their writing - serious, fun or even a fetish (that they're willing to own up to)! 

I am delighted to welcome 




An idea
One with legs. I have lots of ideas but they don’t all have legs or those that are strong enough. Thinking a lot is part of being a writer and why gazing out of a window constitutes work. Sometimes.

A notebook
Stationery, I love it! There’s a fantastic shop in the North Laine here in Brighton; it’s great to go in and dribble over the exquisite notebooks even when I don’t need another one. I have a new notebook at the start of a new project in which I pour every thought and idea – regardless of how bonkers they seem. I keep it by my bed at night. It’s easy to believe that when we’re struck by a ‘brilliant’ idea, we will remember it because, well, it’s brilliant. I have learnt to my cost this isn’t always so. Write everything down is one of my rules. Alongside my novel notebook, I have an ‘everyday’ one, which I carry everywhere, transferring to another book when I’m home – and another for my editing and mentoring jobs, plus a spare.

My writing den
Until March of this year I worked in whichever corner of our average-to-small sized house I could squeeze into: my bedroom, the dining room, the living room. My husband is a musician and carpenter; my eldest son plays guitar, my youngest piano, so I am forever tripping over instruments and gear. I work best without distraction or noise so it’s a pleasure and privilege to escape to my den. I find a beautiful space conducive to creativity and I wonder now how I ever managed.

Post-it notes
As you can see I am a huge fan of post-it notes of all sizes and colours. I use them to map out a narrative – not immediately, I’m not that much of a planner. It’s something I do once I’m around a third in. Commonly, I begin a novel knowing where the story kicks off and roughly where it might end, though I will often be surprised by my characters who lead me down a different path to the one I anticipated. I use small post-its to tag a MS once I’ve done ‘the big read through’ – different colours mean different things: yellow to cut or move a scene, blue where the major plot points are and so on. I use them to write character essence quotes and stick them around the screen; I write useful maxims like ‘action not activity’ on them and stick them around the screen and on my desk. I’m surprised I can see the screen at all by the time I write ‘The End’.

Microsoft Word
I have friends who swear by Scrivener and I did try it for a month. There was a lot I liked about it – the ability to move scenes around quickly and easily for one thing, the cork board another – but in the end I reverted to Word because the MS looked so ugly when pieced together for printing. I am sure with more time, I could learn how to prettify it but I was up against a deadline. I worked as a journalist and copywriter before turning to fiction so Word has been one of my best working friends since the mid-90s and I am so used to it and competent with it too that it’s hard to abandon. I cannot imagine writing a novel long hand. Notes I write in pencil but in terms of an actual narrative – novel or short story or article – nothing seems ‘real’ till it’s before me on screen

No internet
My attention span often resembles that of a feeble-minded gnat. Social media is both my best friend and worst enemy. When the den was finished I decided it would be an internet free zone. Of course, I can access the internet on my iPad and phone and will do for the teeny-tiny research points… but not having access on the desktop does help me focus.

Tea and cake
Plenty of herbal tea (and the occasional mug of builder’s) keeps me going, along with ‘reward’ slabs of cake: Battenberg, French Fancies, Fruit, Lemon Drizzle. As long as it’s sweet I’m sorted – which is more than can be said for my waistline during intense periods of writing. I adore my teapot, cup and saucer set gifted from a dear friend.

A blanket
Clothes are not important to me when writing (very important otherwise – I love all things concerning fashion and style), though I do wash, brush my hair and slap on make-up sometimes. But my blanket… that is important. I have heating in my writing den but I do not possess the best circulation in the world and get cold easily.  Sometimes I don’t move for hours. My blanket is my saviour. That and fingerless gloves in winter.

These are some of the drills, screws and ratchets I use for writing. But everyone’s toolbox – or shed – is stocked differently. Thank you, Vicki, for having me over on your fabulous blog. I can’t wait to read about others’ preferred instruments!


About Laura Wilkinson
Liverpool born, Laura is a taff at heart. She has published six novels for adults (two under a pseudonym) and numerous short stories, some of which have made the short lists of international competitions. Public Battles, Private Wars, was a National Museum of Wales book of the month; Redemption Song was a Kindle top twenty. The Family Line is a family drama set in the near future, looking at identity and parenting. Her latest is Skin Deep. Alongside writing, Laura works as an editor & mentor for literary consultancies and runs workshops on aspects of craft. She’s spoken at festivals and events nationwide, including the Frome Festival, Gladfest, University of Kingston, The Women’s Library and Museum in Docklands. She lives in Brighton with her husband and sons. 

Find Laura on her website, on her Facebook page and on Twitter - @ScorpioScribble

About Skin Deep

Published by Accent Press (15 June 2017)

Publisher's description
It’s what’s inside that counts…
Art student and former model Diana has always been admired for her beauty but what use are good looks when you want to shine for your talent? Insecure and desperate for inspiration, Diana needs a muse.
Facially disfigured four-year-old Cal lives a life largely hidden from the world. But he was born to be looked at and he needs love too. A chance encounter changes everything; Cal becomes Diana’s muse. But as Diana’s reputation develops and Cal grows up, their relationship implodes.

Both struggle to be accepted for what lies within.
Is it possible to find acceptance in a society where what's on the outside counts for so much?

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