:: how i write ::

I've been writing for a very long time. I was in an advanced reading group in primary school when I was ten years old, all the way back in 1994, and we would write short stories sometimes using prompts that the teacher leading the group would stick up on the classroom wall. While I no longer remember what any of the stories I wrote as part of that group were about, I was definitely bitten by the writing bug sometime that year.

It took another three years for me to really start writing. In December 1997, around six months after I'd become a Hanson fan, I bought a copy of Middle Of Nowhere with the money that had been one of my Christmas presents that year. As I was listening to it for the first time, it clicked - I realised that they were kids my own age (I am almost exactly halfway between Taylor and Zac age-wise), they were talented as hell, and they were doing something truly incredible with that talent. And I decided I wanted to do something with my own talent - I was going to write. The first story I wrote was, looking back, horribly cliched, but I didn't care - I was writing. So as not to waste paper, I wrote it in the unused half of my notebook from that year's English classes - a notebook that I was rather upset at forgetting to pack when my family went camping a couple of weeks later. Because I never typed that story up (in fact, I didn't type any of my stories until I got my own computer at 17), it's long gone.

In May 2002, while I was doing research for a school assignment that would be my capstone project for one of my Year 12 electives, I came across FanFiction.Net. Out of nothing more that curiosity I decided to see if there was a Hanson section - and lo and behold, there was. That was when I realised that the stories I'd been writing for the last four years had a name - they were called fan fiction. More than that, I wasn't the only person writing them. I started posting my stories online soon after that.

As evidenced by this whole website, the mid-2002 banning of RPF from FanFiction.Net didn't stop me posting my stories online. I had my stories hosted by friends, I posted on other archives (and even helped my friend Liss run the very first archive of Hanson fic, Stay Dreaming/The Tightrope) and on LiveJournal, and in 2009 I finally decided to strike out on my own and start my own website. A year later, I joined Archive Of Our Own and began posting there too. Ten years later Tabula Rasa is still going strong, and I still post my fic at AO3 and LiveJournal (though the latter is as a crosspost from my Dreamwidth account nowadays).


So, what exactly is my process? What's in my toolbox?

My Toolbox

My writers' toolbox is quite simple and compact:

+ My laptop. I've owned quite a few laptops over the years - my first laptop was a Compaq Presario that I got for my 21st birthday in 2005, and in the last fifteen years I've since owned four more laptops (plus a netbook that was my primary computer during university). My current laptop is a Lenovo IdeaPad S540 ultrabook that runs Windows 10 Professional.
+ My tablet (and Bluetooth keyboard). In contrast to the number of laptops I've owned, I've only owned two tablets - an iPad that I got for Christmas in 2012, and my Lenovo Tab 4 Plus (running Android 7) that I bought in 2017 to replace my iPad. My Bluetooth keyboard is a Logitech K480 that was a Christmas present in 2017. I usually only write on my tablet when I'm travelling and can't really be arsed pulling my laptop out of my bag.
+ My mobile phone. I've become quite adept at typing on a touchscreen, and I will often type up short ideas and snippets of stories on my phone when I'm away from home. I currently own a Samsung Galaxy A50 that runs Android 9, and I use Google Keep for writing my story snippets and ideas. These snippets and ideas get transferred into Scrivener once I'm back at my laptop.
+ A notebook and pen. Sometimes writing by hand is what it takes to get the words out, but it's rare that I write anything beyond a short story snippet that way these days. It's painful, and I can type a whole lot faster than I can write longhand. Anything I write by hand gets typed up later.

My Process

Similiarly, my process is quite simple. Everything is stored in a Scrivener project, which is where the story itself is written.

+ The idea comes first. It usually takes the form of a "what if", or I might have been inspired by one of the many Twitter or Tumblr accounts I follow that post story prompts. As an example, Braving Darker Days (and by extension, The Sound Of Light as a whole) was directly inspired by the Strong Enough To Break documentary, and is a result of me wondering what else could have happened to delay the release of Underneath. The idea gets jotted down, either in my phone's notes app or by hand in my notebook.
+ I come up with a list of potential titles. I never start writing without one, and the title I start with rarely changes after I've started writing.
+ Characters are next. They generally appear in my head more or less fully formed, and tend to name themselves. I have a look around on Behind The Name when my characters are being stubborn and refusing to tell me their names. Faceclaims come from Google Images, or from free/Creative Commons stock photo sites.
+ Next, I research. I might use Wikipedia as a general starting point, or I'll poke around on the NaNoWriMo forums. For anything that requires in-depth research, I take advantage of my State Library or National Library memberships and dig around in databases for journal articles. I also look my settings up on Google Maps so that I know what they look like.
+ Finally, I decide on a minimum word count that I'll be happy with - for my longer fics, this is generally 70,000 words. I'm not bothered if the story ends up needing to be shorter - my philosophy is that a story is as long or as short as it needs to be.

What I don't do, at least until a fair amount of the story is written, is outline. I've found that outlining too early restricts me, and I'd much rather let the story develop as I write. Only once I'm certain I know where a story is going do I write out an outline, but I use it more as a guideline than anything else.