Tuesday, 31 October 2017


November greetings, and if you've popped in here from NANOWRIMO, please read fast and get back to your word count.

 A week or so ago, here on ABBA, Dan Metcalf offered an excellent TOP TEN TOOLS FOR US WRITERY TYPES post and a very good list it was. However, I had pessimistic feelings – or is it merely self-knowledge? - about that Bullet Journal suggestion.

I wanted to love the BJ system - it involves new stationery, after all! -  but my first online sweep revealed a worrying mismatch between BJ-ers and me. The BJ vloggers displayed multi-coloured notebooks listing items like:
Plan Exotic Travel Project

Meet Zoe for Coffee

Collect Dress from Weekend Party
And, perhaps,
Think about novel in bath.

Whereas my BJ would probably list items like
Put out the Bins
Type up Library Friends Meeting Minutes
De-flea the Cat (if you can catch him.)
For heavens sake, get on with that blasted novel!

I will look into BJ more honestly and patiently but those lives on the page just make me anxious. Furthermore, how do the vloggers manage so very much doodling and colouring-in time? (By not being the one who puts the bins out is my guess!)

But, moving on - Yay! Right! - I’d shout out for that essential Pomodoro technique timer too, whatever the shape of your device. Timers are really useful for getting both words and attention on to the page, even though my kitchen timers break or get tidied away into a kitchen.

You can use a phone as a timer, which leads on to my Writers Tools suggestion: 

Always carry a lightweight camera or phone to use as a Visual Writer's Notebook.

Last week, as I wandered on a lone “Artist’s Date” in York, I collected a set of practical photos. These shots weren’t intended to be “art” images, but visual facts I needed to stow in my head.

I collected pictures about
City scenery - and was suddenly reminded about a forgotten project.

Notices to specify locations and sections of Information panels to remind me of facts or future research: a sad inscription on a Roman child's stone coffin.

Displays and objects, especially those making a statement, like this hoard of silver

Architecture, buildings and room settings, often for atmosphere.

And those occasional things you didn't expect to see: an owl from a Birds of Prey display in the Gardens and my mixed feelings about it.

I’m wary of people pictures without permission, especially of any children, but would have loved to snap one of the children looking through a specially designed Viking Virtual Reality mask.

For now, my York photo folder acts as witness to ideas that might become a piece of writing. Sometimes, just the pausing and taking of that image can be enough to fix the spark in my mind, so it doesn’t matter that the shot is less successful than I’d like.

So – in what I suppose is actually a very long comment on Dan's post - to that Top Ten Tools list, I’d definitely add “CAMERA”.

And there are two more handy reasons why:

One: A camera (or phone) will get you away from your desk and out walking in the open air and sunlight and this will be good for combating lowered spirits during the next few winter months.


Two: A camera (or phone) will let you stay indoors in the cosy warmth, taking cute photos of your pet/s, and therefore maintaining a lively author presence on Facebook, even if you’re so busy colouring that Bullet Journal you’ve not written a word that week.

Your camera.  You choose. Have fun.

Penny Dolan

Ps. More seriously, just enjoy the picture-making and the ideas that come with it. And thank you, SAS, for all the wonderful photos and images that do add joy to a day alone at the deskface. And thanks, Dan, for the half- loan of your post.


Susan Price said...

I agree with you about the bullet journals, Penny. If I'm honest, I just found them comfusing. My humble 'To Do' list, like yours, has stuff like 'Laundry, shop, bins, change beds, sort out chapter 10, mulch trees.'

Lynne Benton said...

Quite agree, Penny - these days my phone is most useful for taking photos, mainly because it's always with me (unlike a camera). However, the other day we had a day out and I forgot to take my phone, and of course saw loads of opportunities now forever lost! Maybe I'll remember your post next time I go out, and that will remind me...

Rowena House said...

With you wholeheartedly on the camera/phone front. Love the freedom of digital to snap away endless at all sorts of stuff you'd never have photographed in the days of Kodak film + developing costs. Drifting through the gallery afterwards, musing & remembering, now an alternative pleasure to bedtime reading if my eyes are too tired after a day at the computer. I've been trying out Instagram as a way of sharing images. Still a bit stuck on technical issues between phone & laptop, but will get there one day.

Dan Metcalf said...

Never fear! My bullet journal currently has 'clean carpet' and 'paint downstairs toilet'. There are to rules to the BJ system - just use it how you want to. And the people using craft knives and glitter on their journals are missing the point.

Enid Richemont said...

I'm currently dealing (brutally and sometimes painfully) with a lifetime of writing, so that's on my bullet journal at present - all those print-outs, and, much longer ago, typewritten stuff, and agents' letters and comments. I have been agented since my very early twenties, starting with Curtis Brown (they were in King Street, Covent Garden, then). Unbelievable.

Lari Don said...

I love practical posts, and this was a brilliant one! I agree about the joys and benefits of the cameras on our phones, but I'm always careful to take a notebook too. I want to find the right words while I'm actually looking at the object or landscape, rather than later at my desk...