PD James has some great advice for novel writers in this piece on the BBC. I particularly liked number eight, “Never go anywhere without a notebook”. I’d add to that, never go anywhere without a smartphone (if you have one). Here’s the reason.
If you’re sitting at a tea stall, in a cafe, a bar, on a plane and you whip out your notebook, people look at you suspiciously, maybe they think you’re an arse, freak, gimp or, worse, a journalist. Do it long enough and they may come and ask you what you’re doing. However, tap away in the Notes app on an iPhone and they think you’re texting, tweeting, chatting, you know, doing what the youth do these days. No-one looks twice at you. You’re invisible. I’ve written thousands of words in this way. The illusion is especially useful when you’re trying to describe exactly the shoes, clothes, hair and complexion of the guy sitting next to you. He’s clueless as to what you’re up to. You wouldn’t get away with that with a pen and paper.
Photo taken by me in Kayonza, eastern Rwanda.