Ripley Hayes

Author of the DI Daniel Owen series, set in Wales

Research

On moving house and losing a friend

Posted on 13th November, 2022

In the middle of moving from the cabin-in-the-woods to the-house-in-the-town I had to take one of my dogs on her final journey. I still haven’t completed the move, but we’re getting there. So, probably no surprise that I’m reflecting on the effects of stress on creativity.

One of the things writing has taught me is the importance of accepting something is OK and moving on with it. I am the world’s worst decision-maker. Give me a simple choice between two items and I will call a friend, look it up online, ask the audience, anything rather than decide, because a decision might be the wrong one… I’m working on it.

Writing mysteries requires a lot of decisions. I’m a pantser, aka a discovery writer, which means I have only a vague idea about what the story is. I make a lot of notes and then just begin at the beginning. Inevitably I write myself into a corner every few thousand words. So, who did kill x? Why the h… would he go there? Surely they would just have rung up? I find that the best way to solve these problems is to write them down, do something else and wait. The answer often appears. If it doesn’t I scribble every possible solution until I get the right one and then I carry on until the next problem.

That’s the creative process. I try to transfer the same techniques to real life, but what about the other way round? Turns out the lesson is the same: wait.

So, I didn’t write for a few days. I sat in my new house and watched the rain. Took the other dog for lots of little walks and in the fullness of time, the urge to carry on with my story came back. The house move will get done. Jelly-dog and I will get used to not having Hetty around and the story will get written.

Apologies for the miserable post. Normal service will return soon.

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