Friday, 11 October 2013

Writer's resources

Writing is a solitary job. Don't get me wrong, I love my own company which I think is a prerequisite for writing fiction. But sometimes you tend to forget that there's a whole world out there that you're removing yourself from.

For that reason, I try to get out each day. I run, go to the gym, hang out at my favourite cafe for a coffee and read of the paper - that kind of thing.

So when it comes to settling in for a really good day of writing, I gather everything around me that I need so I don't have to budge. These things are, in no particular order:
  • chocolate
  • cats (secretary and receptionist)
  • chocolate
  • coffee
  • music I can write to - not sing-along stuff (Eros Ramazzotti, Enigma, Strauss etc)
  • chocolate
  • chocolate
Alright, I do sometimes sing along to Eros. Anyway, these are the physical things I need.

Then there are the less tangible ones - the resources I need for my content. I love, love, luuurve my thesaurus and my dictionary.

Additionally, there are a couple of funky websites I simply adore, like the Online Etymology Dictionary. This site tells me the history of words - even the rude ones! Did you know that the F-word...ok, I'll let you look that one up yourself!

One of my other fave sites, and one that I visited regularly when I was writing Torn is dedicated to British birds. It shows pictures, habitat and even has an audio function where you can hear a recording of their song.

Then, there's my other favourite that describes all the plants, flowers and trees you'd find in an English garden.

These sites were invaluable for adding that touch of authenticity to my work since Torn was set in rural Britain. I love these sites and owe them my gratitude; I wonder if these people - clearly enthusiasts in their fields - would have ever guessed that a writer all the way over here in Australia would be so inspired by their passion?

The internet is a wonderful place - when its power is used for good rather than evil.

The Writer's Digest site is another terrific location that gives me access to online tutorials covering all manner of writing-related topics. For a small annual subscription fee, I can sit in the comfort of my office, with my coffee and chocolate, and listen to guest speakers from the other side of the world share their advice and experience.

I love it!

The internet has certainly opened up the world for we writers. No longer are we required to leave the comfort of our home-offices and make the trek to the local library. No longer are we at the mercy of library catalogues, index cards, and over-worked librarians struggling to grasp why we so desperately need to know why the Imperial Waltz was only danced at Almack's with the approving nod of a supercilious patroness - see what I mean?

I did actually need to know this and found the answer on the internet. I can't imagine what it must have been like for writers before the days of the world-wide-web.

You can say a lot of negative stuff about technology - and I do - but I'll never say anything bad about the internet as a resource for writers.

One word of caution though - probably goes without saying but I'll say it anyway. If you are using the internet when doing your research, make sure you use reputable sites and make sure your facts are readily supported by more than one site. Cross-check, cross-check, cross-check!

And happy researching!

Here's me and Dave Harris from Main Sail Cafe Bar in Main St Mornington. The people at Main Sail are great supporters of me and my work and Dave makes a decent coffee too!

Oh and in case you're wondering, in the early 18th century the Imperial Waltz had only newly arrived in England and was considered quite improper. Only certain young ladies were permitted to dance it, and only under supervision.

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