As a writer works out what to put down on paper—which word, which character, which fact, which heading—the thoughts often move along many simultaneous paths. Connected ideas and tangents flow as the writer labours—the chronology of unfolding events, the tension of the story’s main conflict, the relationships between characters, dialogue and scenes, descriptions of setting, the climax, the ending, and all the paths that must be travelled to take readers to a satisfying conclusion. Almost all of this work takes place in silence.
Naturally it’s difficult to get into the flow of writing when surrounded by noise and interruptions, so writers tend to work alone where it’s quiet. But I’ve been trying something different lately, as I edit, and it’s based on an idea I got from A.L. Kennedy’s book On Writing.