Sunday, 10 May 2020

In praise of... the Busy Book

Yesterday, on social media, I posted pics of my Saturday essentials and mentioned that I was reinstating the use of a Busy Book. Lots of folk asked what a Busy Book is, and why I had one, so I thought I'd write a post explaining all.

Before my novel writing schedule became a full-time occupation, way back when I attended some creative writing classes and workshops, I always had a Busy Book. In short, it was the place where I jotted down all thoughts, ideas and short pieces of writing. I've got notebooks bulging with glued in postcards, post its, notes and extracts, the spines completely cracked and the pages crammed full. They were my constant companions and looking back through them now, I can see exactly when certain ideas for future books began to take shape.

However, when I started writing two books a year the Busy Book fell by the wayside. I just couldn't squeeze in the time to create anything other than my adventures in Wynbridge and Nightingale Square and, perhaps more importantly, I didn't want to. The notebooks weren't completely abandoned though. Every novel I write has its own book with its synopsis, additional plans, timelines, detailed chapter notes and printed out correspondence from my editor.

These are great go-to reference guides, quickly and easily reminding me of what happened in exactly which chapter and why. When it comes to editing, they really come into their own and they are most definitely now a fixed part of my writing process.

But back to the Busy Book... as loathsome as #lockdown has been, it has gifted me two things. Firstly, increased fitness. I've managed to walk well over two miles around my tiny garden every day since I became confined to barracks and it's a practice I will most definitely be sticking to. Working from home means I quite often don't leave the house from one day to the next and now that has become an enforced restriction I've been much more proactive about keeping moving and I know that lots of you have too.

Secondly, no long journeys and no days out, has given me more time at the weekends and, in turn, a need to keep my brain busy, lest it falls to thinking about the confines I'm living with. So, right on cue... enter stage right... THE BUSY BOOK!

I've downloaded a number of creative writing exercises I've found online and which have nothing to do with the books I am writing and I've got stuck write* in (*pun intended). Yesterday I wrote Haiku and a longer piece of prose inspired by an image provided by Amanda Addison. Her wonderful creative writing group - Castle Writers - based at Norwich Castle has now gone digital. Click the link if you'd like to check it out and try the exercises for yourself, and I've got more lined up courtesy of NaNoWriMo which will keep me busy for many Saturdays to come.

They only take a few minutes - or hours if you're feeling inspired - so do consider creating a Busy Book of your own. There's never been a better time to stop faffing and get writing! Do let me know if you start one. I'd love to hear all about it.

And finally, this week I also shared this pic on social media...

And lots of you fell in love with the beautiful bespoke bookmark. As soon as the restrictions are lifted, and I can start posting things out again, I'm going to be giving loads away so do keep popping back for details. 

In the meantime my darlings, do keep reading and writing and remember, setting up your own Busy Book is the perfect excuse to buy stationery!

H x

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