Saturday, September 19, 2015

Weekend Wildcard - Licence to Write

Pink Heart Society editor, Ali Williams, is weighing up the pros and cons of writing by hand versus typing on a machine...

How do I write?  Let me count the ways...

Writing has always been a bit of a curious pastime for me - namely because I've never really stuck with one specific mode of writing.  I think that I've found a groove and then end up trying something different and transfer to that instead.

I do actually like writing by hand.

If I'm waiting for a friend in a pub, or there's a phrase of paragraph niggling at me, I'm likely to whip out my tiny, bright pink Mills & Boon notebook, and jot stuff down.  (In fact, the first sex scene I ever wrote was in a rather seedy pub in North London, whilst waiting for a friend to arrive)

Why that notebook?

I suppose it's partly because of the fact that I feel like it's validating my writing endeavours, but also, it's because of the size.  Perfect for slipping into a handbag, to be brandished when needed.

I also went through a phase of writing by hand on the train.  My commute is two hours each way (yes, that is four hours a day, and yes I must have been mad), so that's plenty of time to get some stuff done.

But when writing by hand, I can only write on my commute home - I block if I try to write in my notebook in the morning.

Of course, I've also tried machines.

I worked with your bog-standard Word for a while, but then fell across Scrivener.  It's designed so that you can outline, write and move chapters and sections around a virtual corkboard all at the same time!

And whilst I was working with Scrivener, I discovered that I could write in the mornings!

I'm a fairly quick typist (around 65 words a minute when I'm on fire) and suddenly, I was finding that I could get through about 1500 words in the two hours it took me to get to work every day.

I know!  It seemed like the perfect solution.  Aside from one problem:  I had to cart my laptop around with me.

Now, I appreciate that some people do this each and every day, and so my little complaining outburst will seem rather ridiculous, but I really don't want to have to lag it around with me.  And so I stalled.

But in the last week, I've decided to invest in an iPad Mini 4.  Partly because it really is the prettiest piece of kit I've ever seen, but in no small part due to the fact that Scrivener have announced that they're currently working on a beta version of an app for iOS.

I can't write properly on a touchscreen - it takes me too long and there's too large a margin for error - but I can write on mini-keyboards, I've been doing it with my mini-laptop (an acer netbook) for years.  So I'm saving up and next month I'll invest in a wireless keyboard to go alongside my new shiny tablet.

This does mean that I feel a little sorry for anyone sat next to me on my commute in future though, because I shall be writing as if my life depends on it.

How do you prefer to write?  Are you a pad and pen writer, or a typing on a laptop or tablet kind of writer?  Let me know and please, leave me commute-writing tips - in the comments!

Ali Williams grew up in Croydon and spent her teenage years in a convent girls’ school. She then fled to university where she discovered champagne cocktails, a capella singing and erotica.

These days she blogs about perceptions of romance, chick lit and women in society and spends the rest of her time promoting #StrongRomanceHeroines on Twitter, and cracking on with her first novel, Breakfast in Tunford.

Editor for the Pink Heart Society, guest blogger for Mills & Boon and Harper Impulse, and occasional columnist for For Books' Sake, she defies you to slam romance novels within her hearing!


  1. I write brain to screen - I need to type the words. The only thing I hand write is reminders/notes/snippets when a compute is not handy. But I do generally need total silence, so I can't do anything significant in pubs or on trains, sadly.

    1. I find it harder to write at home than anywhere else, strangely enough... I'm more focused out and about! :-P

  2. Brilliant!! I've been using Google Docs on my smartphone when I have longer than a ten minute wait anywhere. Whatever works, right? :)

    1. Exactly! And weirdly enough, snippets of time makes me more productive, as opposed to a long writing session! :-P