How Writers Write is monthly series of guest posts where established writers invite you into their workspaces, reveal their work habits and share their experience.
I’ve always enjoyed Ian Creasey’s stories. Hearing that he’d just published a collection was enough for me to ask him if he wouldn’t mind contributing this extra post. I was delighted when he said yes…
What do you use to write?
I use a very old version of Microsoft Word. Every time I get a new PC, I install my CD of Office 2000. It does the job. I don’t like learning how to use new software: it’s too much of a distraction. I’d rather just use something I’m already familiar with, so that I can concentrate on the actual writing.
When do you write?
I prefer to write late in the evening, say around 10pm onward. By then, it’s usually quiet outside. I hate noise, and I can’t write when there’s an external racket such as people mowing the lawn and so on. (The most heartfelt story in my new collection, Escape Routes from Earth, is a novelette called “Danny and the Quiet Police” — it’s about people who hate noise so much that they set up a community called Quiet Island, full of decibel meters and policemen enforcing the Noise Code. The story’s protagonist is a teenager who rebels against the community; but my own sympathies are firmly on the side of the Quiet Police.)
Where do you write?
I have a dedicated room in the house. My house is a standard 3-bed semi-detached, and I use the third bedroom (what people sometimes call the box room) as my study. It’s small, but I don’t mind — in winter it’s an advantage, because the room heats up quicker and stays cosy. I usually keep the curtains closed, to reduce distractions from outside.
How do you write?
I don’t like to get all hi-falutin about my so-called “process”, since it only really consists of two steps. The first step is a lot of brainstorming, which continues until I have a broad outline and I know what note I want to hit at the end. The second step is to actually write the story based on the outline.
Questions of Style
I don’t worry about style. I figure that everything I write is automatically in my own style, which is probably a mishmash of influences from Douglas Adams to J.G. Ballard.
Very occasionally a story will demand a particular voice, and in that case I’ll usually find an appropriate source to borrow from. For instance, my story “The Unparallel’d Death-Defying Feats of Astoundio, Escape Artist Extraordinaire” is a first-person narrative from a showman’s viewpoint, and I modelled his voice upon illusionist Derren Brown (based on his shows and his books). Not that Derren Brown has ever escaped from a black hole — at least, not as far as I know. (I wouldn’t put it past him.)
When the First Draft is Done…
When I’ve finished a first draft, I get it critiqued. I’m a member of NorthwriteSF, an in-person writing group that meets in Yorkshire every three months. I’m also a member of online writing forums Codex and Critters.
Having said that, it’s a bit of a circular question because I actually define a first draft as the first version of a story that gets seen by anyone else. Up until that point, it’s what I call a zero draft. I generally tinker with a zero draft for a while before declaring it an official first draft and showing it to other people. This is because I want critiquers to point out issues that I didn’t know about; I figure I’m wasting their time and mine if they mention problems that I already knew existed.
What Are You Working On At The Moment?
I’m in a gap between projects because I’ve just finished putting together my collection, and I’m taking a breather before moving onto the next thing. The collection, Escape Routes from Earth, contains 14 SF stories, all originally published in magazines — half of them in Asimov’s Science Fiction, and half of them elsewhere.
I have plenty more story ideas on file, so it’s just a case of going through them and deciding which of them I want to write next.
You can catch up with my projects at my website, http://iancreasey.com/