If you want something done …

You’ll be aware of the paradoxical phrase, ‘If you want something done, ask a busy person’. There are variations but they all aim to suggest one thing, which is that a person with a heavy schedule is more likely to add and complete an additional task. That type of person is also more likely to either accept the extra work or say that they’re unable to help.

What is the main thrust of the phrase and the theory behind acceptance or refusal?

The busy person will not let you down by accepting and failing to complete. If they don’t believe that they can include the task into their schedule they’ll say so, rather than let you down by not succeeding.

Where does this fit in with being an author?

It depends to a fair extent on the type of person you are, and not the type of author. Writing, after all is one aspect of a lifestyle, even if that person is an author. Now, let’s look at this a bit more closely, and as authors do, I’ll use what I know best … my own case.

When I started out into the world of writing I got underway with a poem or short story, and I would labour over one piece at a time. I could stare at a notepad, or a screen, and yes, I would get the job done, but it was soul-destroying at times. When I moved on to writing novels I found a similar ‘block’ effect, whereby I would write three or perhaps four chapters and then … nothing.

My life as an author became more productive and therefore more enjoyable when I came up with the idea of ‘resting’ a piece of work if I got stuck.

How does that equate to productivity and enjoyment?

I saved and left the troublesome piece on file, and got underway with another story. Over the years I’ve become proficient at maintaining multiple Work in Progress. Apart from creating the choice of which story to work on, I believe that this method alleviates an issue that many authors learn to deal with in different ways.

Let’s say, for example, that you’re writing a story and at a certain stage you go off on a tangent or your mind wanders while you’re taking a break. For some writers, the natural response is to shrug off the thought, believing that it will come back to you later. Other writers might find themselves with something akin to an ear-worm which is ever present while they try to work. I don’t rely on remembering the passing idea. Attempting to work on a story with another firm idea on my mind would be distracting.

I open a new file and write the opening line, title, theme or whatever had presented itself. A good technique I’ve discovered for preserving a fresh idea and moving on, is to create a working title, and write a strap-line or brief blurb.

Giving an additional task to a ‘busy’ person is not an exact science, it is a notion based on human nature and personality types. I believe that most authors may consider themselves as that busy person, and therefore ought to try the method I’ve found successful. When you’re stuck for whatever reason, don’t procrastinate until the active piece of work becomes an irritation, try to relax and let your mind wander. You might come up with your next project.

As always, comments and suggestions are welcome, and thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and theories.

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In Their Footsteps

Pitlochry, Scotland

In mid-September I spent a week up in Scotland—in the picturesque Highland village of Pitlochry. It was an appropriate place to finish off the first full editing session of Codename: Foxglove. Dominique (Foxglove), went there to visit her mentor, Rachel (Codename: Nightshade).

The Foxglove story will rest until mid-October, and from then it will undergo at least three further sessions with two-week breaks between. If it feels ready, I aim to send it out to beta readers in late November. When published, this tale will bring the Beyond The Law stories to a close, so, as might be expected, it will be done with a heavy heart, but by the same token, some series’ run their course. I’d like the final story to be a worthy conclusion to the tales which started life as a single experimental poem about a man who was compelled to end his military career.

Pitlochry saw several scenes from Codename: Nightshade which involved the Mental Riders Motor Cycle Club among others. Characters from both sides of the line came unstuck in a big way in the village. Locations like the filling station, a (renamed) bar on the main road, a large hotel, a car park, and the railway station all held a special significance for me. I travelled along the road which was used in a car and motorbike chase and felt justified in having used the route in the scenes.

While in Scotland, I visited Braemar which featured in Beyond the Law: Retribution. As the author of action scenes, death and mayhem, it creates a peculiar feeling to be on site and imagine what took place in my imaginary world.

Apart from those places I also spent a day at Aviemore and on several of the countryside routes in the area. Here, of course, I was reminded of the characters from my Light at The End trilogy, and in particular my heroine from the spinoff, Sylvia.

In visits to Glasgow, my home town, I’ve enjoyed the ‘sense of place’ when thinking back to the Beyond The Law trilogy, and in recent visits to Edinburgh I sensed the presence of Bryce, and several other characters from Czech Mate.

A knowledge of the locations used in stories complements the imagery and to a certain extent, the action. Returning to ‘real’ places after the job is done is a surreal experience and provides a healthy dose of satisfaction—I’d recommend it to fellow authors.

Thank you for indulging me with your time and comments.

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