Now that the festive season is quite over it’s time to get back into the routine of writing. I spent most of last week making preparations to improve my routine by creating files for new work, research folders, and tags etc so everything’s easy to find. I have to force myself to be organised otherwise I end up with notebooks all over the place filled with goodness knows what. If I remember something I’ve written that I want to go back to and work-up I often have to spend hours searching for it. Hopefully I’ve now got a system that will stop me wasting so much time, even if it doesn’t help me make better work.
A friend told me about Scrivener some years ago, and he was so enthusiastic I tried it out (you get a free 30 day trial that I managed to make last for a year as it’s based on days of usage), liked it enough to buy it, and have been using it on and off ever since, but only when I thought, or hoped, I was writing a book. That is, not for individual poems or short stories. But switching from a desktop to a laptop last summer made me revisit and fully investigate its potential. I began to use it for my daily journal: the laptop being so fast, portable, and beautiful (I am that shallow) suddenly made typing much more desirable than handwriting in the expensive leather bound journals I’d been so hefted to. As that worked so well I decided to try it for short creative pieces too. Now I have fully searchable Scrivener project files for both; and each piece – diary entry, poem, story, idea – gets its own sub-file within its project, complete with as many research files as I need.
One of the things I particularly like about Scrivener is the research function: you can put anything into a research file: images, videos, web-links, audio files, maps, and, of course, ordinary text. Which means all my notes, inspiration, ideas and wild notions can be stored within each individual project, and found at the click of a mouse.
I now have two Scrivener projects – Notes 2018 and Poems 2017/18 – each of which will be gradually populated with multiple subfiles. By the end of the year I’ll have at least two book length documents which, with some judicious editing and rewriting could, in theory, actually constitute a book.
So I’m now ready to get on with it, and I will do that in a minute, but I just want to tell you something else that seems to fit this organisation theme, if loosely.
As you know in order to be able to write one needs to read, widely, which I’ve always thought I do, but it’s come to my attention that although I read a lot of books they are mostly written by men. Why that is will need to be examined elsewhere, either in a separate post, or in my diary, or both, or, even, in creative pieces. When searching through my books of poetry a week or so ago I found I have more than double the number of male to female poets on my shelves, for example; I haven’t even counted the fiction, but the ratio is probably worse still, so this year I plan to redress that: for each book by a male writer I will read at least one by a female. At first I thought I’d read only women this year, but as I’m currently reading Proust – albeit translated by Lydia Davis – Ruskin, and Berger (as well as Varieties of Disturbance, by Lydia Davis – I am faintly obsessed by her at the moment) that proved impossible.
If any of you have any favourite books – novels, short stories, poetry, non-fiction – by women, please tell me about them, and if I haven’t read them I’ll add them to my list. I suspect one of the reasons I read more men is because men are still more reviewed and recommended, it’s certainly not because women write fewer books, or books of lesser quality: time to rectify that for which your help will be greatly appreciated.