07 February 2012

Garret Tour Tuesday: Allison Renner

Please welcome Allison Renner. Allison is a native of Memphis, Tennessee. She spent a rather large chunk of the recent past travelling (throughout the US and to England) but has recently settled back into Memphis into a studio apartment. So Allison will be telling us today about her changing writing space while travelling as well as her current space!

When on the road, Allison wrote pretty much anywhere and almost exclusively on her laptop.
Not bringing along a notebook meant there was one less thing to carry, and since I was living out of a backpack and camera bag, extra things mattered. I'd come to my hotel room at night, upload the day's photos and write about what had happened and how I reacted to it. I probably averaged five or six typed pages a day. When I got to the airport early or had layovers, I'd pull out my laptop and write even more because I have the bad luck of always finishing my only book minutes after the plane takes off. I learned to conserve my books.
Hi, Allison!
However, when Allison was in England, she found that her freelance work had picked up so much that she was sick of looking at a computer screen.
I'd still come back at the end of the day and upload all my pictures and do my work, but then I'd turn off the computer and pick up a notebook. I wrote pages about things I had seen and thought about and how that changed my outlook on life. I also wrote a lot of shorter notes on ideas I wanted to revisit for stories.
Now that Allison is back in the states, she's kept the notebook habit.
I like the idea of editing something after the first draft is complete, so I write it (or just notes about it) in my notebook, then hand write it again on loose paper and edit somewhat as I transcribe it. Then I'll read over that version, edit it, and maybe, if I think it's worth it, type it up (and keep editing, of course). I like the idea of having drafts of things... of seeing the words I've written even if I promptly cross them out. I like leaving a trail instead of just deleting a sentence from a document and never seeing it again.
Today, Allison writes in her studio apartment, where space is limited.
I try to cordon off certain spaces for writing at certain times of the day. I have a great wall of windows next to my dining table, so I sit there and let my mind wander as I stare outside.
Wall of windows next to the table. Damn, that is a classy-looking table!
 I have my desktop set up against the back wall so I'll have less distractions, but I rarely write there - it's mostly used for "real" work.
Desk area -- the "real work" zone.

While she has written in coffee shops, Allison says that was just "basic writing," i.e. journal-writing or blogging. Given her choice, she prefers to be alone.
I get distracted easily by other people, but can listen to music no problem (and actually prefer it), so I usually just pop in an album and let things flow. That's another reason I like working at the table - my record player is just a couple of steps away.
Allison is definitely not a morning person: she's more of a night owl.
I'm a person whose imagination goes wild at night. I really want to beone of those people who wake up and crank out three pages before starting their day, but I can't do it. I'm bad at waking up in the morning. When I was in grad school, I told a roommate that I was going to start getting up early to become a morning person. She said, "Why? You're grumpy in the mornings!" So instead of waking up and dreading writing, I go about my day and get things done, and then can clear my mind and focus on fiction.
So Allison likes the solitary writing with background music and actually is apparently hardcore into the longhand writing, although she's certainly practical and uses her computer when hauling an additional notebook is impractical. Also, she's more of a night owl than an early bird.

You can find Allison at her blog Allison Writes or at her personal website AFR Creative, where you can check out her portfolio, Flickr albums, writing clips, and design work. Because in addition to being a writer, Allison is also an artist with mad skills and might be some kind of wizard with a camera (see the glamor shots of her writing space, above).

Now You!
I haven't traveled enough to ever attempt serious writing on the road, but Allison certainly seems to have figured it out. Interestingly, her traveling-writing experiences appear to have allowed her to discover what methods work best for her in different situations. Do you have different methods for different situations or can you only write in specific environments?