Guest blog - Pen or word processor
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GUEST BLOG: Pen or word processor?

24th February 2012 - Richard Beard


Richard Beard is the author of five novels, most recently Lazarus is Dead, and three works of non-fiction, on rugby, the secrets of Australian sporting prowess and a friend's gender reassignment. He is now Director of the National Academy of Writing and tells us a little about what to expect at the demonstration event with Jojo Moyes at Foyles on 28th february, ahead on the 2012 course beginning in April.

National Academy of WritingPoint of view, characterization, plot, structure - the usual suspects. In wow-to-write manuals and on creative writing courses across the country these are the familiar headings to modules and chapters. Nearly always, sound advice is offered - be specific, draw on personal experience, make sure the characters change and develop.

It seems unlikely, however, that the courses and books provide an accurate reflection of how authors write their works. Point of view is character is plot is structure. Everything gets horribly complicated, despite the best-laid plans.

It can be disconcerting, when writers speak, to hear that writing rarely unpeels into clearly defined categories. In desperation, it's therefore no wonder that audiences return again and again to the dreaded question: 'Do You Use a Pen or a Word Processor?'

In fact, this is not a stupid question. It's an attempt to find out about the process used by a writer - what happens at the desk, not in theory but every morning (or evening) when the chair is pulled out (or no chair, as the case may be).

Unlike those module and chapter headings, there is nothing proscriptive about this information. Every writer will approach the task of writing differently. There are plans or no plans, tea or water, socks or no socks. Some habits are funny, some disturbing (for one novel Minette Walters had a bucket of water beside her desk, into which she'd plunge her head whenever she wanted to share the feelings of her murder victim).

Me Before You by Jojo MoyesThis is why, at The National Academy of Writing, we ask our supporting Patrons to come in and talk about themselves. When it comes to How To Write, writers are best qualified to talk about their own daily process. Favourite jumpers, special places, fetish pens. Whenever a writer engages fully with the question 'Pen or Word Processor', interesting answers start to emerge.

For our 2012 course starting in April, our NAW Patron visits will take place in the Foyles Gallery, and to give a taste of what NAW does, we're holding a Demonstration Event in the Gallery on the 28th February.

From six until eight we'll showcase the unique NAW Masterclass, followed by a talk and Q&A from NAW Patron and bestselling novelist Jojo Moyes (most recently the author of Me Before You).

This is an opportunity for writers to see the National Academy in action, meet the Director, Course Coordinator and members of the NAW Board, and to chat to NAW writers freshly enthused by last year's course. And to find out from Jojo whether she uses a pen or a word-processor.

Places at the demonstration event are limited. Click here to find out more, including how to reserve places.

Click here to visit the National Academy of Writing website.

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