How I write

Drawing of Gerry Maguire Thompson and his books

My name is Gerry Maguire Thompson. I am an Irish author and book coach. I write serious and humorous fiction and non-fiction. My books have sold over half a million copies worldwide in thirty languages.

My clients often say to me, “Gerry, when I sit down to write I can’t think of anything.” Now here’s the thing: I gather ideas for writing wherever I go. When an idea occurs to me, I immediately stop what I’m doing and make a note of it. I might be riding my bicycle, eating a meal or lying in bed. If I’m in the middle of sexual intercourse I try to wait till the end before making notes.

I have a fantastic system for capturing and organising ideas. I have a notebook which holds 3 by 5 inch post-it notes, on which I do my writing, then stick these onto paper sheets about the same size. When it’s time to process ideas and turning them into the beginnings of a piece of writing, I chop them up with scissors and re-arrange them into topics and sequences.

I never ever suffer from writer’s block. This is partly because I’ve developed the habit of recording ideas as above; this encourages the mind to keep getting ideas because you’re always valuing and capturing them – rather like encouraging prolific dreams by keeping a dream journal. It also means that when I start writing proper, I’ve got some material already and am not starting with the dreaded Blank Sheet.

The other way I have conquered writer’s block is through cultivating the habit of creative improvisation. This is simply the habit of ‘making stuff up’ – as children do when they play. Cultivating this habit helps you to be habitually creative, through dropping your habits of blocking your own ideas. I am always brimming over with ideas. (Whether they’re any good is another matter, but I reckon it’s better to be choosing from many than from few.)

to be continued…

Thank you for reading. Drop me a line and let me know about how you write.

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