How I Write: An Ineffective Guide

Sit at desk, sweep paper into cluttered stack and place coffee cup in vacant space. Watch coffee slop over brink of mug onto keyboard. Consider licking keyboard. (Swipe with sleeve to dry instead.) Turn computer on.

Open Word Document. Decide more caffeine needs to be consumed before yesterday’s words can be read. Allow five minute online break in preparation.

Look up from Twitter half an hour later. Curse. Realise if all tweets were combined there would be enough words for a novel. Curse again. Refill coffee cup.

Tab back to Word. Discover previous writing is appalling mashed mass, not tightly honed prose. Sulk.

Remember that scribbled useful notes in middle of night. Scrabble beneath layered-desk-mess for notebook. Find black moleskine. Search for notes—notes appear to have vanished—wonder if dreamt useful comments.

Check in other room. Find stack of identical black moleskines. Resign self to searching through all of them. Find useful notes twenty minutes later. Comments consist of ‘Plot squiffy- improve. NB Disaster’. Curse self.

Go downstairs to fetch motivational hobnobs. Grab three biscuits. Congratulate self on not taking whole packet. Decide on one hobnob reward per 250 words.

Spin in chair, wait for inspiration. Watch couple having argument on street. Duck when angry man notices. Knock stack of library books onto floor. Pick up books. Turn back to computer. Reach for hobnob.

Hobnobs have vanished. Look round for hobnobs. Notice crumbs strewn down front. Realise have consumed all three motivational hobnobs. Swear.

Threaten self with exercise. Subconscious decides writing better option. Type.

I wrote this when the lovely Hayley Webster asked for submissions to her online writing festival All the Words. Do check out all the other pieces.

© 2021 Rowan Whiteside