Sheila O'Kelly's Blog

Freelance journalist, sub-editor, and e-novelist

Decluttering the mind

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I just spent five days in Olhao, Portugal, an old fishing town in the eastern Algarve. We stayed in our small apartment which is simply furnished and clutter free. Unlike our house in Dublin, which while much loved, is old and always needs something done to it. And with two adult children flitting in and out at all times of the day and night always needs to be tidied up. When I want to write at home, I put on the blinkers so I don’t get agitated by the mess, but I know it’s there in the background.

In Olhao, the blank walls and clean white floors are liberating. This time, I took my laptop and every second day spent some time writing. For the first time I am writing a crime novel and the plot had become a bit unwieldy. In the calm space in Olhao, with no demands on me, I got it sorted in my head and wrote several thousand words. The characters are now more alive, which means that what they do next is much easier to figure out. In fact, some of them just get up from the background and start tagging along when I had imagined that they would stay quietly living their humdrum lives away from centre stage.

There is the added advantage in Olhao that there is no television or internet access in the apartment – and that’s the way I’m going to keep it. So often I go to the internet to do a bit of research and half an hour later remember, oh, yes I’m supposed to be writing. It has taught me that I can write the first draft without exact information – I will sort out the details of what rank policeman would be sent to a murder scene etc later on.

Now back in Dublin – better get out the blinkers.


Written by SOKNH

September 3, 2009 at 09:25

Posted in Writing

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