I’ve been asking authors about the ‘what, where, when?’ of their writing. First up is Clodagh Murphy, author of four novels, to tell us about her writing life.
Hi Clodagh. What do you write – what are you currently writing and what made you start writing in the first place? I write romantic comedy – funny, romantic, sexy books with lots of kissing. I’ve had four novels published so far (and one ebook novella) and I’m currently in the very tentative early stages of my fifth. I’m at the point where I don’t really know what’s going to happen or where the story’s going to lead, which is exciting, but also panic-inducing. I do know it will have a happy ending, of course – but happy in the moment rather than ‘happy ever after’. I prefer to leave the ‘ever after’ bit to the imagination.
I’m also working on something that’s quite different to the books I’ve had published so far. It’s a story that’s been rattling around in my head in various shapes and forms for a long time, and it really means a lot to me, so I’m hoping I can do the idea justice.
It’s hard to say what made me start writing, because it’s something I’ve done pretty much since I can remember. It probably started from a love of reading – admiring what writers were able to do and wanting to emulate that. But it’s a compulsion more than anything, and it just feels like part of who I am. I suppose I’ve always lived in my head a lot and made up stories to entertain myself, and writing them down to communicate them to other people is a natural next step.
When do you write – authors tend to have a set routine, morning, lunchtime, night – when do you write and why then? I’m quite haphazard. I’m not very disciplined, and I work full-time, so I don’t really have a set routine for writing. I wish I had, and setting up a regular routine is a permanent fixture on my to-do list, but it hasn’t happened so far. I work during the day, so most of my writing is done in the evenings or at weekends. I’ll work late into the night rather than get up early. I’ve tried, but the early morning thing doesn’t really work for me. I’m naturally a night owl.
Where do you write – some people do it at a desk but some people do it at the kitchen table. Where do you do it? I have a desk which is officially my designated writing space. It’s in the corner of the living room by the window. But sometimes I find it hard to be productive there, and I move around. I find it hard to work in the midst of chaos, so when my desk gets too cluttered, I migrate to the dining table. (Clearing off my desk would take time I don’t have. That’s my excuse anyway.)
I’m at my most productive when I go away to write. Once I was staying in a cottage in the middle of a freezing winter, and I was using the kitchen table to write. But it was a big room and hard to heat, and I don’t function if I’m cold. So I moved to the warmest bedroom in the house. The only problem was it didn’t have a desk or table. Luckily I found an ironing board that I could adjust to the right height and set up my laptop on that. I always knew ironing boards were good for something!
What do you write on – Apple or Windows? Laptop or desktop? Word or Scrivener? or anything else… I write on a laptop and I use Windows and Word. I have Scrivener, but I’ve yet to get to grips with it. It’s another regular item on my to-do list.
How much contact do you have with other writers – are you a solitary writer or do you have a writing group? I have a lot of contact with other writers. It started with an internet writing group (where I met your good self), and over the years I’ve got to know lots of other writers – through social media, or through having the same agent or publishers and meeting up at events. I have a wide circle of writer friends now, and we meet up fairly regularly or keep in touch via email, phone or online. It’s great to chat to people who know exactly what you’re talking about. Writing can be such an isolating activity, but I think social media in particular has made it a lot more fun and sociable than it used to be.
Finally – writing in coffee shops – yes or no ?! I’ve never tried it and I keep meaning to. I think I’d find it too distracting, but some of my writer friends swear by it. I’ll definitely give it a go. I don’t think it would help the writer’s bottom, though!
My thanks to Clodagh for being the first author in this regular feature. Clodagh’s latest novel ‘Some Girls Do’ is available now.
You can find this and more at ‘What, Where, When?’