All Write With Eddus: Notebooks

 

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Eddus’s notebooks from June 2014 to present

 

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I edit everything on computer, but the main focus of my writing practice is the notebook. Because I am quite a mobile writer, I rely on a notebook and pen as they work wherever I am. It’s just what works and feels right for me. If you only write on computer and have no wish to pick up a pen again, this one might not be for you.

 

If you’re known as a writer within your circle of family and friends, you’ll be given the gift of a notebook. Sometimes these will be lovely (sometimes TOO lovely!), sometimes they’ll be a bit weird. I wrestle daily with my own diva-ish attitude to most things in life (but WHY do I have to have a boring job?) the question of notebooks is one I’m always thinking about. Spending so much time in Paperchase is probably why. I have kept all my notebooks from the past couple of years, since my Masters. I don’t go through them as often as I should. Sometimes when I do I find one or two magical lines, or one or two whole poems that somehow were forgotten, that I can rehabilitate, rewriting it in a more now-ish voice and polish until I’m relatively happy with it. I use my notebooks for therapy as well as ideas of poetic genius (steady). Sometimes just writing down your raw feelings can help you stumble upon a new metaphor or an interesting turn of phrase. It’s good for your mental health too.

 

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This week’s exercise is to buy yourself a notebook. Get something you like the look of. Pay attention to the feel of the paper, decide whether you prefer the paper plain, lined or squared (I usually have squared) don’t get anything too expensive or too fancy. Don’t just get one that has a particular reputation for being a WRITER’S notebook (it’ll be more expensive!) It needs to be hardy, this has to be your companion. I carry my notebook with me whenever I leave the house. I always think about Viggo Mortensen, apparently when he was playing Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, he carried his sword with him everywhere, it went back to his hotel with him, he took it out to restaurants. This was an important part of his preparing for the part. It’s important for me as a writer to be able to capture a swift sentence or phrase that rings in my head as soon as I hear it. If I don’t have my notebook with me, I’ll never remember it, hence my obsession with carrying it around.

 

Be method and be Aragorn, carry your new notebook with you at all times! Get into character as the writer that you are!

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All Write With Eddus: Free Writing

AWWE Free
The sky is the page and you are writing the branches across it, however you like

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Free writing is what you’re already doing. It’s writing without self-editing, without self-judgement. It’s writing along on that cusp of conscious knowledge of what you’re about to say that feels like you’re writing what you mean and also discovering what you mean at the same time. Writing out your thoughts, externalising them, placing them on a page, is a useful thing for everyone. Free writing is oiling up the wheels of your creative mind, getting your body in tune with writing, it doesn’t matter what you write, but sometimes it might be something on your mind you hadn’t quite realised.

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to write anything good. At all. It can be garbage. It’s not about writing sentence after sentence of brilliance. Just writing is the important thing. Brave people stretch their novelistic muscles during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) each November by writing 50,000 words in 30 days, I have done it myself and I know it’s all about QUANTITY not QUALITY. Going back, fishing out the good bits and shaping them up into something decent is all the editing process, which is a different process to the writing process. We’re not editing today! Imagine if you were an artist (you may well be an artist already!) and you were painting a picture and you simultaneously worked on sketches for the final picture whilst painting different layers of detail whilst at the same time trying to find the right frame for the picture. It would be a mess and you wouldn’t enjoy it. Don’t do this with writing. When you’re free writing you are sketching. You are building up your ideas and discovering what you want to make and what you don’t want to make. The detail, the pallet choice, the layers, the finish, the varnish, and the frame, those all come much later.

 

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This is a great exercise to do first if you have a plan to do some writing, or even editing on something else, just to get your brain in the creative mood.
Take a kitchen timer or a timer on your phone and set it for ten minutes. In your usual journal, write continuously until the timer goes off (stamina of wrists and arms permitting, of course). Come back to it later or don’t. There’s no pressure at all. Write exactly what you like, don’t try to write SOMETHING, if you already have an idea for something, write that outside of this timed exercise. If you run out of things to write, write “I have run out of things to write” over and over. It doesn’t matter, fill up the page and don’t stop! This is about just sketching and doodling away with your words and ideas, you’ll be suprised by what things come out. Just make sure you keep writing for that period of time until the alarm goes off.    

 

Other Exercises:

All Write With Eddus: The Morning Of…

All Write With Eddus: DON’T 

 

All Write With Eddus: DON’T

dont

 

Don’t write. Don’t take your thoughts and place them on paper. Don’t use words to make a thin mesh of reality in yours and someone else’s mind. Don’t imagine. Don’t be taken away on a joke of marvellous thought. Don’t play. Don’t practice. Don’t sing on the page. Don’t dance your hand across it holding a pen. Just don’t.

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This time I want you to write about something but only using negatives. Exploring what something isn’t, wasn’t, won’t or will never be is a fun way of tricking yourself into seeing it differently. A teapot isn’t a lamp post. But what if it was?

In Philosophy this is generally called Via Negativa (the negative route), a way of grasping a concept [usually GOD] by saying everything it ISN’T. I know this is a huge simplification so please do not contact me wishing to get into a philosophical debate about the use of via Negativa in theological debate, my degree in Philosophy means I am absolutely sick of debating. I now believe wholly that there are no absolutes.

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Start all your sentences with a negative statement and see where it gets you (you won’t be surprised):

 

I am not ….

Is it not ….

She isn’t ….

We won’t ….

There isn’t….

I don’t….

We shan’t   ….

They wouldn’t ….  

Don’t send me your best via negativa writing. My email address isn’t Edward.LongMA@gmail.com. Don’t give me an update on your writing. I’m not at all interested. Just DON’T!  

 

Other Exercises:

All Write With Eddus: The Morning Of…

All Write With Eddus: Free Writing 

All Write With Eddus: The Morning Of….

 

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I write on the bus a lot. If I’m on the bus and not reading or on twitter, I’m writing. I find it’s a good way of sneaking in some writing everyday. I’ve written some awful poems on the bus (“London tourist, / I’m sorry I’m scowling in your prized photograph, / the first red double decker bus / you ever saw”) but I’ve written some passable bits as well (UNQUOTABLE AT THIS TIME). There’s something about the constant stream of new images, small human dramas and shop fronts that is incredibly evocative. Countryside just as good as the city for this, I’m just writing from a Londoner’s perspective.  You just need to open your eyes and watch the scenes play out. If you write what you see you’ll be capturing a unique and honest portrayal of a particular moment in time, a rushed pencil sketch. Readers will react to this, readers can always sniff out authenticity in writing and it makes for a richer, more immersive read.

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If you’re on the bus, train or even stationary on a bench somewhere I recommend doing this to engage with your surroundings. 

 

Start every line with the phrase

The morning of ….

The afternoon of ….

The evening of ….

 

Obviously depending on the time of day, and write about what you see. Write a list poem like this.

 

The morning of the broken window

The morning of the orange bike helmet

The morning of the traffic diversion

The morning of the fragrant pastry

 

If you like, you can email me what you’ve written (Edward.LongMA@gmail.com) and I’ll post my favourite one at the beginning of the next exercise (there MAY be an incredibly cheap prize…!)

 

Other Exercises:

All Write With Eddus: DON’T 

All Write With Eddus: Free Writing