A few months ago I bought a large, 5-subject spiral notebook specifically for the work I was doing on this book. The section dividers between the subjects have pockets in them to hold other things. I mostly use them for the printed copies of my language notes, crappy sketches I’ve tried to draw for maps of the realm and various locations, and anything else. It’s also my favorite color: T.A.R.D.I.S. blue. I’m really happy with it and I generally take it with me from room to room, outside, or when I leave the house and know that I’ll have some time to sit and think about things.
I use my notebook to write down snippets of dialogue that come to mind, scene ideas, plot progression, backgrounds for characters and histories, and I’ve written chunks of what will eventually end up as chapters, or at least part of them. I’ve even recorded a couple of dreams that I had that upon waking I thought, That would be really cool for such-and-such to do/say. Having the notebook has been wonderful. I truly recommend it for all writers.
I enjoy working on a computer and having a word processor program is extremely helpful with writing. But there’s also something inherently magical about putting a pen to paper and writing stuff out longhand.
Magical… and pain-inducing.
I got writer’s cramp so bad the other day I felt like I could not close my hand. My back has also been killing me from sitting at my desk for hours at a time. I usually get up and walk around, or make tea, or stretch at semi-regular intervals… depending on if I remember and if I’m not too involved in something. But it never seems to do enough. I know it’s not a good idea, but I have to have my boyfriend crack my back for me every couple of days. Because of this need, I’ve realized that the ottoman in front of the television is the perfect height to substitute as a massage table. I also try to sit comfortably out in the T.V. room with my notebook to write, which helps alleviate the back, neck, and shoulder discomfort, but it doesn’t help my hand all that much.
I’ve been liberally using a home-made heating pad and Aleve when necessary.
Also, if you would like to make the ‘home-made heating pad’ that I use, you just need a “pillowcase” of sturdy natural fiber (cotton, muslin, linen, etc.) NO POLYESTER or SILK, some uncooked white rice, and a microwave. I’ll post more detailed instructions at the end of this entry. I love mine.
The whole ‘suffering for my art’ thing, is not my favorite experience, but I’ve done it before and I have to say, though it doesn’t feel good physically, I am very satisfied that I can endure it. I’ll take steps to lessen it and work through it as best I can. And I will continue to tote my notebook around and remind myself that I’m getting closer and closer to finishing this book with each page I fill in. Putting in hours each day to work on this is not simply just ‘dorking around’. I have always appreciated authors working to put out their books and since seriously committing to my own, I will never say to anyone writing a book or working as a writer full time that they have a cushy job. It’s it’s stressful, it’s intense, and it’s taxing physically, emotionally, and mentally. But it’s also a lot of fun and I enjoy it, even when I gripe and fret and complain. I know I’ll get it done and that will feel so worth it.
*How to make a heating pad*
I put pillowcase in quotes before because it’s more that you will need something you can fill three-quarters full with the dry, uncooked rice, and then sew together, like a bag or pillowcase shaped cloth container. Mine is about 8″ x 6″ and made from a large piece of cotton that I folded over and sewed the sides of. I’ve also made them from pieces of old jeans. In any case, you want to have something that’s similar to a large beanbag. Depending on the size and your materials, you put it into the microwave on at least a medium-high setting for 2 or 3 minutes. It will be hot when you take it out, so you will probably want to wrap it up in a towel or something before applying it.
This heating pad is very nice because it retains heat for a long time and because it’s not electric and has no plug or wires, it’s safe to sleep with. You will never have to worry about it catching anything on fire or being left unattended because it will just naturally cool off in about 15-20 minutes. Also, because it’s similar to a beanbag, you can shape it as needed.
If you make one, let me know how it works for you!