An Author’s Little Helpers by Emma Carroll
Each time I start a new writing project, I have a ritual:
- Buy a new notebook.
- Buy 3 V Ball Pilot pens in 3 different colours.
- It has to be Paperchase and it has to be those pens.
This ‘ritual’ is one of few in my life. I do have favourite tea cups, favourite cushions, a lucky pair of jeans. But mostly I’m a messy sort of person who puts off housework for as long as is humanly possible. My house is full of books, mismatched plates, dog hairs. It’s what estate agents would call ‘in need of modernizing.’
By contrast, the room in which I write is clean and tidy. My stationery ritual is an extension of this concession to order. Each novel has it’s own A4 spiral notebook, where I add research, pictures, plan plot and individual chapters. By actually having the notebook, I’m signaling to my brain that the project is ready to come to life too.
Coloured pens help with visualizing plot, ideas, themes and character threads. V Ball Pilots every time, please. But NEVER EVER in the same colour with which I mark school books. Oh no.
And finally, I do love a post-it note. I’m not a complete slave to them- I often start out with good, colour-coded intentions, then get confused by my own systems. What I use them for most is to scribble down things I remember when I’m away from my computer.
Of course at some point, I have to actually WRITE. And that goes straight onto my trusty Macbook, in Arial, size11, double-spaced. Always.
When she isn’t writing, Emma Carroll teaches English part-time at a secondary school in Devon. She has also worked as a news reporter, an avocado picker and the person who punches holes into filofax paper. She recently graduated with distinction from Bath Spa University’s MA in Writing For Young People. ‘Frost Hollow Hall’ is Emma’s debut novel for Faber. Told in the distinctive voice of Tilly Higgins, it was inspired by a winter’s day from Emma’s childhood. Currently, Emma is working on her second novel. It is set in a Victorian circus. In another life she wishes she’d written ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier. Emma lives in the Somerset hills with her husband and two terriers.