The Daily Grind: A.D. Garrett
Writer: A.D. Garrett
Workspace: My office overlooks a reservoir. Which sounds idyllic, but isn’t. The reservoir is covered and is just a flat-topped, grassy mound. More romantically, the mound is built on what was a ‘Tingvelle’ – a Viking meeting place or parliament. I sometimes wonder if there are any bodies buried out there – mead, politics and testosterone I imagine being a dangerous mix.
Take a closer look: The colourful sketches on the document stand are Mind Maps. I’ve used them to help students to plan and structure their work, and I think they’re great for organising my own thoughts when my brain threatens to turn to mush. (This happens often during outlining, and when trying to make sense of the more complex aspects of forensic science.)
How long do you write for each day? The book just completed was an 8-14 hours a day job!
How many words do you aim to get down? At the start of a novel, I aim for 1000 words, just to get a momentum going. Later, it’s a case of writing until I feel I have to stop, or I feel satisfied with the day’s work (like that ever happens…).
Longhand or straight-to-screen? A bit of both. Handwritten notes are great for allowing ideas to flow, because you’re not constrained by the page, and you can sketch, mindmap and doodle, which may look like scrawl, but can be very creative – see Take a closer look.
Do you have a time when you’re most productive? On a good day, about three hours first thing in the morning can produce two-thirds of the day’s output. But evenings can be good – it’s just having the discipline to go back to the desk after dinner and a glass of wine…
An internet connection – good or bad when you’re writing? Essential. This book has been co-authored by forensic scientist Professor Dave Barclay, and although the task of writing was entirely mine, outlining, planning and establishing characters were done jointly. Email and Skype were indispensible, as Dave lives in the NW of Scotland, and I’m in NW England. In devising the plot for Everyone Lies, we had only one face-to-face meeting.